[Review] Sonic Colours
Everybody knows the sad history of the blue hedgehog from the past few years. However, things are going to change, it seems. It started with Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I, which managed to gave the series a little bit of her old glory back. SEGA saved what might be the best for last: Sonic Colours for the DS and Wii.
Sonic Colours takes place in an outer-space amusement park, build by Dr. Eggman who seems to be sorry for what he has done the past few years. Sonic and Tails have decided to take a look in this amusement park, and discover that Eggman attracts alien-like creatures called Wisps to him, using the amusement park as a temptation, to power up his mind-controlling beam by absorbing the Wisps their power. Not quite the most interesting story we've seen in history, but that's not what Sonic is about. Although the cut-scenes are a beauty to the eye, the voice-actor doesn't really suit Sonic. Because of this, it's really tempting to skip the cutscenes rather than watching all of them through. The humour is focused on younger children, so as an adult you might wonder what you're actually listening to.
The story, however, is a great excuse for the developers to create various environments and keep the action a bit fresh. The level design overall is great, and once you're in an actual level, it will feel like a Sonic game. The dissapointment here, are the hub-worlds, which will remind you a whole lot of Super Mario Galaxy 2. The hub-worlds don't feel new at all, and that's a shame.
There are a total of six planets, all split up in six action stages and one boss battle at the end. As mentioned earlier, all six planets are very different in design and a charm to look at. You'll find yourself in a tropical resort, a mountain formed of candy, which we've seen already in both Galaxy 1 and Galaxy 2, an outer-space energy road, the planet of the Wisps, an aquarium which reminds you of China and an asteroid field. There's enough originality in each planet, but some stages feel recycled from previous ones. The first few stages of each planet is usually two to five minutes long, and these are the funniest to play. However, the later stages are a very little part of the first few stages, but then with replaced objects in an attempt to increase the game its length. It works, but is it fun? You'll quickly find yourself in a less interesting platform part. The boss battles are simply too easy and very repetitieve. They're not really worth mentioning.
The music in Sonic Colours is a bit precarious. You'll listen to beautiful tracks like the ones in Starlight Carnival and Planet Wisp. There are enough tracks that really suit Sonic, but the theme song for example is absolutely terrible. It's a punishment for all Sonic fans to listen to the theme song, which simply sounds, if I say so myself, gay. The sound effects are a pleasure to listen to, so no complaints about them.
In the end, it's of course all about the gameplay, and to be honest, I wasn't worried at all when I saw the first few trailers of the game. It really tempted me that Colours would make use of 2D and 3D changing cameraperspectives. However, like in every other 3D Sonic game, there's a set of flaws which can really ruin the overall experience for a little while.
Sonic Colours changes from perspectives very smooth during gameplay. Because of this, you get two types of gameplay. The 2D parts feel like the older Sonic games, and are an absolute joy to play. You blaze through the levels and avoid obstacles, defeat enemies, make a few loopings etc. This is the way we want to see Sonic, and it seems SEGA can only manage to pull this off in 2D perspectives.
Now, Sonic has never really been good in 3D games, and this time it isn't top-notch either. There sure is some good improvement, but Sonic controls like a bag of cement in the 3D parts, and sometimes you'll find yourself grinding on a rail for a quite a moment, where you totally lose any sense of control. Luckily, you're playing the 2D platforming the most, so that's a relief.
Apart from the loops and standard elements in a Sonic game, the big addition are the various Wisp power-ups. As mentioned earlier, Wisps are alien-like creatures, and appear in all sorts of colours. You can free these aliens when you're blazing through a level, and they will help you on your adventure. There are eight different Wisps in total, all with an unique ability. They're even needed to progress in some parts of a level. I was kind of worried about the addition of the Wisps, since new additions were SEGA's main formula to make a Sonic game worse than it already was. In general, the Wisps are an awesome addition, and they really refresh the gameplay. For example, Sonic can change into a yellow Wisp to drill through solid ground, and a purple, angry glutton that destroys everything in its way.
The various Wisps power-ups really give the game so much more to explore, and help you to do more than just running from the left to the right. Every now and then, you even get confrontated with a little puzzle. Also, the Wisps really improve the replay value of the game. Once you progess further in the game, you'll unlock various new Wisp power-ups that you couldn't use before. This makes you explore earlier levels again, so you can unlock new passages and try to improve your score and time. Of course, there are bonus items found in this game, and these are the Red Coins. By collecting these, you can unlock levels in the ''Sonic Simulator''.
Despite the fact that the Wisps really improve the game, there are enough pitfalls that stop Sonic from reaching full speed. Especially in the end of the game, you'll be plagued with typical, cheap ways to die. Think about plain annoying pits, and unfair placed enemies that appear too late for you to react in time. This is quite common in Sonic games, but it's just a shame to encounter a few set of old flaws while there are some real improvements in this game.
Furthermore, the game is missing bonus levels, where you could collect Chaos Emeralds to unlock Super Sonic. There is a way to unlock Super Sonic, but most people are most likely not willing to waste their time on this. Sonic Colours also has a co-operative gamemode, called the ''Sonic Simulator'' or ''Game Land'', but you'll simply not enjoy this. You will discover that one screen isn't enough for two Sonics.
Despite the flaws that you'll encounter while playing Colours, it can be called a good Sonic game: the positive points sure outnumber the negative points here, what I can't say about The Black Knight, Unleashed or SONIC the Hedgehog. There are enough ways to enjoy this one, and the graphics are simply outstanding. The Wisps are a more than welcome addition and don't take away the sense of speed you're used to in Sonic games, but do significantly improve the time you'll be playing this game. The voice-acting is less appreciated, and the music is sufficient. It seems that 2010 means a new start for the blue hedgehog. If SEGA can insist this type of games, and works out the mentioned flaws, Sonic will reach full speed once again, like he did back in 1991 until 1994, and reach the 9 out of 10 or higher.
While the story isn't complicated at all, it's more than sufficient for a Sonic game. It simply works, is easy to follow, and is a great excuse to create different environments as well. The voice-acting and the lack of humour prevent it from getting a 9 out of 10.
The graphics in Sonic Colours are beautiful. Charming backgrounds and level design, nice flashy effects and superb modelling work. Only critisicm is that the game runs at 30 frames per second, while I know for sure it could've worked out with 60 frames per second with a little more work.
While the game knows enough good tracks to make it an acceptable soundtrack, there are just too many setbacks. You'll find it very tempting to skip the opening scene for the sake of your ears.
The 2D parts are just really much fun to play. The Wisps are a welcome addition as well and really improve the gameplay. The 3D parts need some work here and there, but are a good improvement over previous installments. The biggest complaint is that some levels and boss battles feel superfluous.
Replay Value: 7/10
The great thing about good Sonic games, and that sure isn't missing in Colours, is that you're willing to replay the levels for a good amount of times. By unlocking Wisps later on in the game, you can revisit previous levels to discover new paths and ways to beat them as fast as possible.