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Sonic Colors (Wii) artwork

Sonic Colors (Wii) review


"Whew, that was close."



Whew, that was close.

That is what Sonic the Hedgehog was thinking after Sonic Colors came out, because up until then, things weren't looking good for everyone's favorite blue rodent this side of Marill. He hadn't been in a truly outstanding game since Sonic CD on the Sega CD of all things. Sonic Adventure was a very good game, but it was plagued by glitches and bad voice acting. Sonic Adventure 2 was a pretty good game, but it had a lot of the same problems Adventure 1 had, and it did the unforgivable by introducing Rouge the Bat into existence. Sonic Heroes, widely regarded as the beginning of Sonic's downward spiral, was decent, but it would've been vastly improved by ditching its unique selling point, since having three playable characters on screen at the same time slowed the game down a lot. And saying that a game would be better off with its U.S.P. isn't a good sign.

Shadow the Hedgehog could've been overlooked if it didn't take a retcon for this game to even exist. (It looked an awful lot like he died in SA2.) Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) is considered by some to be the worst game of all time, thanks to every aforementioned problem (glitches, camera, voice acting, controls, Rouge the Bat) being clumped into one game (and don't even get me started on the downright disturbing romance Sonic has with what looks like a 15-year old human girl). And to put the cherry on top of this sundae whose ingredients won't be mentioned, Sonic Unleashed splits its time between being, ironically, too damn fast in the day, and having some of the worst beat-'em-up stages ever at night. And I won't even mention the mediocre Game Boy Advance Sonic games, or the even more mediocre Chronicles, Black Knight, or Secret Rings. In fact, the best game that Sonic's been in since 1993 might be Sonic and Sega All-Stars Racing. (Sorry about that two-paragraph hate speech, I needed to vent.)

So, it's safe to say that Sonic was out of chances. All the credibility he had built up in the early to late-'90s was gone. For every great Sonic game on the Genesis, Dreamcast, or Game Gear, there was a terrible game on the GameCube, Xbox 360, or Wii. So, if Colors wasn't a great game, Sonic would be done. So, how'd it do? Well, he's still around, isn't he? Running fast and selling auto insurance. (I just had a weird thought involving Gex and the Geico gecko.)

The game begins without going into a long, draw-out cutscene (another problem with the prior games), and instead, jumps straight into the action with a couple of decently paced introduction levels, so that by the time the first cutscene does come, you’ll actually want to know some backstory for what your doing, instead of just hitting start, and promptly having a ton of exposition dumped onto your unwilling face. To the credit of the developer, Sonic Team, none of the cutscenes get too long or too boring.

The story starts with Dr. Eggman opening an interstellar amusement park. Sonic thinks the whole thing sounds rather fishy, so he and Tails decide to check it out. At first, Tails is skeptical. But, it turns out that Sonic was dead on, as Eggman is using the amusement park as a front, in a plan to kidnap a bunch of aliens called Wisps. He hopes to use their strange power to do the same damn thing he's been trying to do since '91. So, Sonic has to go in there and do the same damn thing he's been doing since '91. OK, so the plot's a little formulaic; after 19 years, it would be hard for it not to be.

But, the gameplay is where Colors shines. The Wisps, smart little buggers that they are, realize that Sonic is on their side, and decide to let him use a little of their powers. He simply needs to collect a Wisp and he'll be able to use that particular Wisp's powers. The light blue ones turn Sonic into a laser that can bounce off walls. The yellow ones allow you to drill through certain materials. However, my favorite is one of the later Wisps in the game. I won't spoil what the Wisp does, just look for the purple one.

Another thing that stands out to me is the music. Every song in this game is memorable, fitting, and just plain awesome. My personal favorite is Sweet Mountain, Act 3, which sounds a bit like it should be in the first Kill Bill movie. But, you'll be hard pressed to find a single bad song in the entire game. At first, I might've said the theme song, Reach for the Stars, was kind of crappy, but it's grown on me. It's certainly not the worst Sonic theme ever. (I'm looking at you, Amy's Theme from Sonic Adventure, or anything from Sonic Chronicles.) Oh, yeah, and the voice acting is the best that it’s ever been in a Sonic game. I know that's kind of like taking first place in an Andrew Lloyd Webber look-alike contest, but it's still worth mentioning. It's actually pretty good.

Colors continues to prove itself far superior to its predecessors by not being flooded with side characters. I'll admit that Knuckles is my favorite Sonic character, and that the occasional appearance by Espio the Chameleon is a happy time for me. But, they don't need to be in every single game that bears Sonic's name. I would've been OK if Sonic ran through this game solo, but Tails is still acceptable, because Sonic 2 was excellent. Plus, for the first time ever, he doesn’t sound like he’s nine years old. But, the more annoying or unlikable characters (Amy, Rogue, Shadow, Charmy) are nowhere to be found. Too bad they weren't gone for good. (Why, Sega, why? You were learning before Generations came out.)

But, the biggest plus for me is how much Sonic's toned down his 90's attitude. That was his biggest problem. Sonic is a 90's character through and through, kind of like Duke Nukem. He’s cool, impatient, in-your-face, and always the center of attention. Every joke he told got a laugh, no matter how corny. Every rally cry he gave caused inspiration, no matter how dull. Everything he said was cool, no matter how uncool it actually was. But, in Colors, he seems to be brought back down to Earth (ironic, considering the setting). A lot of the jokes in this game are meant to be satirical, taking jabs at how "cool" Sonic was in prior games, and how unsuccessful Eggman has been over the years (ala Bowser from Thousand Year Door). Also, it's worth mentioning that the jokes are funny ON PURPOSE. Games like Sonic '06 or Unleashed were funny for a whole different set of reasons.

Not much to talk about in the flaws department, other than the fact that some of the later levels begin to fall into that old trap of putting pitfalls in places that you'd have no way of seeing, until you were exploring the bottom of them. Some of these levels brought back horrible memories of the daytime stages of Unleashed. And the co-op mode is pretty much a wash. I tried to play this game with a friend, but the game was too fast for two people to be on screen at once in the early stages, so we weren't able to get too far into the game. Plus, after seeing the precise platforming required for the latter parts of the game, I'm pretty sure that we would've got stuck there, too.

But, even with these small problems, along with the slightly predictable plot, this was a great game that saved Sonic's gaming life. If you've stayed far away from Sonic in recent years (smart move), do yourself a favor, play this game, and enjoy the ride. It's good to have him back.

Rating: 9/10

nickyv917's avatar
Community review by nickyv917 (February 19, 2012)

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honestgamer posted February 19, 2012:

It's easy to agree with this review, and SEGA All-Stars Racing was indeed a pretty great game. I didn't hate some of the past Sonic games as much as you did (I actually had some fun with the Black Knight one), but the series definitely wasn't doing what it needed to and Sonic Colors fixed that. You do need to go through and edit out the scoreboard and scoreboard description text, I would think. They don't really add anything to your review and don't really fit with the site. Otherwise, great stuff. Thanks for your continued contributions!
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pickhut posted February 19, 2012:

While I disagree with a lot of things you said in the review (certain games being bad, to name one), it's still a good read. Always interesting to see what other people's thoughts are on the same game and series compared to one's view of it.

And I thought Venter was exaggerating with the scoreboard at the end... until I saw it. o_O
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nickyv917 posted February 19, 2012:

Just to let you know, I'm not doing the scoreboard anymore, it was just an experiment I wanted to try, didn't work out the way I wanted.

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