Reviewed: January 12, 2011
Released: November 16, 2010
It never fails – another holiday season, another shoddy appearance from Sega’s speedy blue hedgehog Sonic. Over the past few years we’ve seen Sonic playing as King Arthur, we’ve seen him going “Unleashed” as an abominable creature, we’ve seen him take a stab at the Olympic Games, and we’ve even seen him taking on the kart racing genre – he has pretty much tried it all, and the verdict has always been the same: enough with the gimmicks, just give gamers the Sonic they love. |
Well, it took nearly a decade for the folks at Team Sonic to listen – but they finally did – and now we have Sonic Colors, which is undoubtedly the best Sonic the Hedgehog title of the current console generation. The Sonic franchise was built around two basic concepts: speed and precision. And while a great majority of the last 10 years’ worth of releases has in one way or another strayed away from these concepts – obviously without much success – Sonic Colors returns to the tried-and-true formula and delivers one heck of a good time.
But that’s not to say that Colors is a simple rehash of the old school game design, either. There are a number of the “new” gameplay concepts that have been developed over the years only in the case of Sonic Colors they seem to meld together much more cohesively. Between the fluid character movement and the spot-on camera positioning, the gameplay flow seems infinitely less awkward than in the previous handful of Sonic titles.
The storyline is actually quite unique, penned by Happy Tree Friends writer Ken Pontac & Warren Graff, Sonic Colors takes a space-based theme, with the entirety of events taking place in he recently constructed Dr. Eggman’s Interstellar Amusement Park, purportedly built by Dr. Eggman as an apology to society for his past deviousness. Sonic and Tails attend the grand opening, only to discover that Dr. Eggman’s has captured and enslaved citizens of an alien race called the Wisps and is using their unique energy to power his nefarious mind control beam that he plans on using on the patrons.
Sonic and Tails venture off through the park’s various interstellar “rides” helping free the enslaved Wisps, each of which presents Sonic with color-coded special abilities (hence the name Sonic Colors) ranging from shape-shifting transformations allowing Sonic to be a rolling ball of destruction, a flying rocket, a rock drill, and even a scenery chomping behemoth. The game is quite linear in design, with each achieved power-up aiding the gamer through the subsequent gameplay level – but this really is a welcome return from the pseudo-sandbox approach that Team Sonic was trying over the past few releases.
Colors shifts seamlessly between 3D and 2D gameplay scenarios depending on the action at hand. While this may seem a bit disorienting at first, the dynamic transition is quite unique and really keeps the gameplay fresh and enjoyable. Sonic Color’s presentation is top-notch, and is surely one of the best looking and best sounding titles on the Wii – impressive shading, vibrant colors and excellent background scenery all come together with excellent gameplay music, sound effects, and voice acting, resulting in a game that looks like it belongs on the technologically superior Xbox 360 or PS3 consoles. Heck, even when delivered with SD composite hookups and stretched to 16:9 widescreen, Sonic Colors retains its sharp edges and solid vibrant colors which is nearly unheard of for a Wii title. I have played a number of Wii titles in my time, and Sonic easily sits near the top of the heap second only to the first-party Nintendo releases.
Team Sonic did not want any gamers to be left wanting for control options, so they developed Colors with the ability to use nearly every combination of input device and control scheme available; Wii Remote, Wii Remote and Nunchuk, Wii Classic Controller, and Nintendo GameCube Controller. As you can guess by the inclusion of the Classic and GameCube controllers, the Wii’s motion-based waggle controls are all but nonexistent with Colors – which in itself is a bonus. While I am a fan of motion control, the tendency for developers to cram it into every single game (for better or worse) is becoming a bit clichéd – and it is nice to have a true old-school gaming experience without having to resort to classic downloads.
Sonic Colors includes a handful of multiplayer cooperative play, player vs. player battles, and time challenge modes to augment the single player campaign. Gamers can even unlock the ability to play with their favorite Mii should they see fit.
In closing, Sonic Colors was a very pleasant surprise from a franchise that seemed to be stumbling as of late. Sonic Colors is hands-down the best Sonic title to be released in nearly a decade, and definitely one of the best titles to hit the Wii in the past year. Fans of the series will find the Sonic they know and love, and newbies are sure to fall in love with the cherished blue devil.