Sonic Colors (Wii Review) by Carl B.
Developer: Sonic Team
System: Wii, DS
Release Date: November 16, 2010
November 20, 2010, by Carl B. - 3D Sonic titles have been on a steep decline after Sonic Adventure 2 released on Sega's Dreamcast in 2001. There have been a few 3D Sonic games that almost replicated the greatness of the Sonic Adventure series, but they've always had gimmicks that seemed to destroy the entire experience. Sonic Unleashed had fast paced and vibrant day-time levels, but when the night-time levels rolled around Sonic would turn into a "werehog" and the game turned into a slow-paced beat 'em up. Sonic and the Black Knight had beautiful visuals but ultimately the game was bogged down by bad motion controls and a lack of Sonic's signature loops. Many fans have called for Sega to return the series to its 2D roots, which they successfully did with Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1, but the company still wanted to create the first great 3D Sonic in nearly a decade.
In Sonic Colors Eggman is carrying out his latest diabolical plan in the form of an interstellar amusement park. Players control Sonic through several different Zones and countless Acts as the blue hedgehog saves aliens Eggman has captured.
Sonic Colors sports some of the best visuals the Wii has seen. The engine runs at a perfect 60 frames per second without a single hitch or slow down, even when tons of objects are on screen and levels are speeding by. Environments are absolutely spectacular looking, with each Zone being different from the last. Some of the best looking levels took place in a Zone called "Starlight Carnival," where there are several space ships flying in the background and neon colors glowing from every direction. Sonic Colors' soundtrack is on par with past Sonic games, and Sega has given their mascot a new voice actor.
Sega seems to have learned from the faults in Sonic Unleashed, because Sonic Colors takes everything great from the day-time levels in Unleashed and applies them to the even faster paced action in Sonic Colors. Acts in Sonic Colors take up to five minutes to clear at the longest and the shorter levels will usually take around 40 seconds to three minutes to beat – longer levels tend to be more difficult as the game throws more challenges at the player. Most levels in Sonic Colors change viewpoints from 3D to 2.5D, similar to 2.5D sections in Super Mario Galaxy 2. These moments tend to be more platform-based than the 3D portions, but they never feel tacked on and they never overstay their welcome. Some parts of 3D levels feel like they're on autopilot, however, specifically when players can only make Sonic go left or right one lane to avoid oncoming enemies. These segments are indicated by a zigzag icon on the bottom of the screen.
The main gameplay mechanic exclusive to Sonic Colors is the ability to use the aliens - called Wisps - to power up Sonic. After collecting a certain amount of the different Wisps players will be able to unleash their respective power via a shake of the Wii Remote. Wisps give Sonic various powers that include being able to shoot off of walls at blazing fast speeds, dig underground, and even turn Sonic into a rocket. The power ups seem tacked on in some areas of the game; for example, in one of the early parts of the game I was speeding through a level when all of a sudden Sonic fell into a ditch like area with a pack of enemies and had to use the drill Wisp power to get out. Luckily, these moments don't come up too frequently to bog down the overall experience.
To add some replay value to Sonic Colors there is a "Sonic Simulator" where players can play through simple levels to test their skills. The game can be played entirely with a second player and high scores can be uploaded to an online leader board.
13/15 - A nice soundtrack with fast beats and guitar riffs. Sonic's new voice actor sounds good, but Tails still sounds awkward.
20/20 - A perfect 60 frames per second throughout the entire Sonic Colors experience makes the title one of the best looking games on Wii.
19/25 - Eight Zones in Sonic Colors makes for a six to eight hour experience, and being able to upload high scores online only makes the deal better.
36/40 - Sonic Colors is the first great 3D Sonic title since Sonic Adventure 2. While Wisp powers feel tacked on, they thankfully aren't overused the way Sega overused the werehog gimmick in Sonic Unleashed. 3D to 2.5D feels seamless.
88/100 - While the end product doesn't capture the retro magic the way Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1 did, Sonic Colors is a fantastic 3D outing for the series and one of the best looking games on Wii.