The first thing I did when arriving at SoS, as mentioned in my last post, was take a quick scout around the area – and as soon as I spotted the Sonic Colours pod and the relatively short line (at the time, anyway), I hopped in and watched while others played though the game.
The version at the show was the E3 Demo, as displayed on the title screen – this is to be expected, considering the recent proximity of the event. The game was running on a devkit, too – though the Wii was covered by a cloth, the front of it was exposed at one point and you could see the raw circuit board, plus a Wii devkit startup. What this means is that the game is obviously still undergoing serious work to not be working on normal hardware, so bear this in mind. The game was playable only with a GameCube controller due to issues with getting a Wii Remote to work but I don’t think anybody minded out of an initial confusion as to regards a couple of on-screen button prompts – being an unfinished game demo that was only designed for an E3 presentation, all the onscreen prompts were for Wii Remote buttons, so you had + rather than Start. =P This will obviously be fixed by final release.
The E3 build had 4 complete levels available – Tropical Resort, Acts 1 & 2, and Sweet Mountain, Acts 1 & 2. There was also a single boss available that I believe was the same for both acts (I certainly didn’t see any other boss come up and I saw this game played a lot of times through). First off, let’s get the obligatory information out of the way – yes, this plays a LOT like the Unleashed day levels – which is what we all wanted, right? Sonic handles well, I never felt like I was hit or died for cheap reasons, and the levels are well constructed and look great, especially for a Wii title. I played Tropical Resort 1, 2 and the boss (which I kicked ass on all 3 – again, if you can play Unleashed, you’ll settle into this nice and quickly), so I’ll go through those first.
Tropical Resort has a very theme park feel – think a 3D Carnival Night and you’re pretty close. There are balloons, neon lights – and not a barrel in sight. =P You pick up Wisps as you go through the level – either powerups which give you the abilities while the gages last, or small numbers of the plain white Wisp. There were 2 Wisp powerups on show. First was the yellow drill one, which is triggered by the Z button when you’re on top of a drillable surface (and you’ll know when you are as the camera will already be in the side-on view and a large section of ground be onscreen). On pressing Z, Sonic jumps into the air and into the ground, and as you’re zooming around picking up rings there are plenty of potential exit points where you can continue the level from, not just one – Colours has plenty of branching pathways, that I could see. The second was the Green laser – on activating, the action freezes while you point the laser in the direction you want to go, and then Sonic will zoom along, following the path you’ve set, destroying/picking up items as he goes. A nice touch is that at the end of most acts (though not all, I saw him hit a goal ring once. Might have been the level had already been cleared once before the demo reloaded), Sonic will destroy a container containing lots of Wisps which will fly off in all directions – very Prison-Egg like. Where it does differ from previous titles is that you can muck about with the level clear screen, grabbing bonus items and spinning the numbers/rank around by jumping at them. Every single playthrough ends up as an S rank no matter how bad your initial rank on the screen is though – I suspect this is hardcoded into this demo just to show off more than 1 of the ranks at once.
Sweet Mountain (which I will say now I didn’t play, I only watched others do so) looks just as pretty as it has done in screenshots, if not more so. Giant doughnuts for loops, more drillable sections, and a variety of different food related items in the level – Egg Pawns here have various cooking utensils (I’m all but certain I saw one in a chef’s hat), for example. This level also shows off something that I don’t know if has been widely known at all – large red rings with a star in the middle are hidden around the level (I saw at least 2), and while I have no idea what they do I’m fairly certain they’ll unlock things. One is hidden in a section that I recall well – you’re running into the screen towards a wall that’s firing large missile capsules at you, and you have to dodge them as they’re flying towards the screen – mess up, and they explode in a shower of sweets as you take damage. On clearing this section you then have a short QTE where you dodge another one that appears right in front of Sonic – the QTEs are still fairly simple at this point in the game, but I dare say they’ll get harder as you progress.
Finally, the boss – the same for both zones I believe, he’s a giant eye that throws spikes at you from the centre of a giant wheel. You can attack him directly by jumping on platforms to reach the middle of the wheel and just hit him right on, or you can use Wisp power if you have it – most of the damage I did to this guy I did by bouncing around as the laser. When he dies he explodes in a shower of rings which you can naturally pick up to help your final score.
Overall: Best 3D Sonic title in YEARS. My only minor criticism I would have at this point is that occasionally the frame-rate can chug a little bit, but there’s still plenty of time for this to be ironed out. This is a sure-fire purchase for me.
With all the hubbub around the Wii version of Colours the DS version was very neglected – Nova for example got on at the start of the day barely even having to queue, no-one wanted to play it as they were all too busy staring at the Wii version. I only played one act of this (as I’d just got off the Wii version and I could feel the eyes boring into the back of my head, and with the kid in front of me on the DS version having spent an AGE on the one available boss I decided to play it quickly). Like the Wii version, this was title screened as the E3 Demo. Once again, let’s get the obligatory information out of the way – yes, this is essentially Sonic Rush 3 – and like the Wii version, this is not an especially bad thing. I liked both Rush titles, so not a problem for me. I played the first act of Tropical Resort and watched the kid play the boss for the level. In terms of the gameplay, there’s not a lot to write home about in terms of differences, you mostly know the score by now. One thing I will say is I used the boost a lot more in this game than I did in the Wii version – hell, I wasn’t even aware the Wii one HAD boost until I saw someone else using it later on that day. The homing attack is now on the same button as jump rather than another button – a welcome change. The Wisps are both present on the DS game and work much the same as its big brother – but the games are different enough that you could buy both and feel that you’d got 2 separate games out of it, which is probably what I’ll end up doing.
Tropical Resort is again very colourful, reminiscent somewhat of the carnival zone in Sonic Advance. I played it in somewhat of a blur so I don’t really have too much else to say about the level – sorry! The boss on show will sound familiar to anyone who’s played Rush – he’s in the middle of a circular platform you run around that has rings on it. I can’t tell you much more than this as the kid sucked rather tremendously at it – sorry, little guy. =P
Overall: A solid title, anyone who liked the last 2 Rush games should like this one too.