Pros: Fast paced. Recaptures the feel of the old 2D Sonic games.
Cons: Sometimes frustratingly difficult. Some levels are almost over before they begin.
In 1991, Sega released the first game in the Sonic the Hedgehog series, fast-paced side-scrollers in which a speedy animal races through elaborate paths and battles fiendish villains. In 1996, Sega released the first 3D Sonic game. And in 2010, 14 years later, Sega released the first fully successful 3D Sonic game. It is called Sonic Colors, and while it was a long time coming, there is finally a 3D Sonic game every bit as much fun as those 2D games from the 1990s.
The Story: Sonic Fights Eggman, Sonic Team Listens to the Critics
Developer Sonic Team came close to a good 3D Sonic in Sonic Unleashed, a game that had some 3D levels that beautifully recreated all the excitement of the early games alongside agonizingly slow action-adventure levels that pretty much everyone hated. The public and critics spoke with one voice: this game would have been a lot better with just the fast levels.
Sonic Team listened, and the result is Sonic Colors.
In the game, Sonic and his friend Tails visit an amusement park run by their long-time nemesis Dr. Eggman He is, of course, up to no good, and has imprisoned cute little aliens known as “wisps” to drain them of their power for use in his nefarious purposes. True to form, Sonic decides he must foil Eggman and save the wisps.
The cut scenes are really cute and funny. Tails works on a wisp translation device that comically mistranslates the creatures, while Eggman deals with a robot lackey who talks like a Texan cowboy and, after an unfortunate attempt to fix that, a pirate and a mobster.
Gameplay: Fast-Paced, Varied and with One Shiny New Gimmick
Saving wisps involves Sonic running through elaborate levels full of long, twisting, rollercoaster-style paths. The game has the tremendous sense of exhilarating speed you would expect from Sonic, although there are platform jumping sections that require players to slow down. As with Sonic Unleashed, levels shift smoothly from two to three dimensions, allowing the game to use some of the basic gameplay perfected in Sonic’s 2D days.
Levels are colorful and varied. Sometimes Sonic is underwater, or riding a rollercoaster, or is blown upward by industrial fans. These levels are guarded by various monsters, but Sonic can jump and punch them easily, and even use flying monsters to bounce across a chasm. The only really dangerous opponents are the fun, difficult bosses that turn up from time to time.
The big new idea of the game is the wisps themselves, as Sonic can take on the abilities of any he finds along the way. There are 8 varieties of wisps in the game, sprinkled around each level. If Sonic runs into a yellow wisp he is then able to drill into the earth, while orange wisps make him shoot upward like a rocket and pink wisps allow him to stick to and crawl along walls and ceilings.
The Sort-of Bad: Short Levels and Some Frustrations
Game levels are sometimes remarkably short. At times it feels like the load time to start a level is longer than the level itself. But in the tradition of Sonic games, there are various paths, some of which can only be opened up by using wisp power. It is fun to replay the same levels to find alternate paths and secret areas.
As the game progresses, it gets brutally difficult. Not that anything in the game is impossible, but there are times when I died over and over again. When Sonic dies you go back to the last checkpoint you passed unless you run out of lives, in which case the game ends. I prefer games to give players unlimited lives, as Kirby’s Epic Yarn does, but I have a lower frustration threshold than a lot of gamers, and I don’t imagine many people will complain.
Verdict: The Sonic Game You've Been Waiting For
Taking every good thing from Sonic Unleashed and replacing every bad thing with more good things, Sonic Colors is the ultimate Sonic game, fast paced, good looking, varied and imaginative. While the normally lightning fast Sonic took a long time to successfully make the journey from 2D to 3D, he has arrived at last, 14 years late, but still full of frenetic, exhilarating life.