Game News, Reviews

Review: Sonic Colors (Wii)

­

Sonic Adventure is a terrible game.  The sole reason I bought a Dreamcast has not aged well over the years, no matter how badly I want to overlook its many problems with memories.  Its shoddy programming, poor control, over-emphasis on speed, alternate modes of gameplay, pointless peripheral characters, voice acting and awkwardly epic storyline was the beginning of Sonic’s decline.  The mistakes made in that game were so huge and panoptic that they managed to show up in every Sonic game for the next decade, sometimes landing a starring role. Along comes Sonic Colors, a game that finally strips away these issues, resulting in the first good game since the series went 3D.  Note that I said “good” and not “great.”  The positive perception of Sonic Colors (and Sonic 4, too) has been built around what the game is not, rather than what the game is, resulting in glowing review scores and early celebrations of the hedgehog’s “return” (seriously, how many times can Sonic be “back?”).  Most of the fodder that has made Sonic an absolute joke is gone.  While it’s good for it, Sonic Colors still decides to bring along fundamental design problems that people shouldn’t be tolerating anymore. Sonic Team finally remembered that Sonic is a platformer.  It’s not all about speed.  This aspect alone renders Sonic Colors as the best 3D Sonic game and a good game overall.  While speed and platforming rarely ever mix (it’s always one or the other), the speed sections of the game serve as a reward for navigating a tricky section of moving platforms and traps.  The boost button remains, but you won’t get away with spamming it like you could in previous games, which is a welcome change (removing it outright would be nice).  Sonic, speed-wise, operates at a much slower click, which allows for better control over previous 3D outings. “Better” control does not mean “great” control, however.  It is an improvement, but in a platformer, especially one at such high speeds, the controls and game engine have to be precise and well-crafted.  “Close enough” doesn’t cut it.  Despite its enhancements, Sonic Colorsstill succumbs to the usual physics issues that have plagued modern Sonic.  The float at the top of Sonic’s jump, strange inertia and his slow turn-around from left to right are the game’s biggest offenders.

Unlockable mini-game.

While 2D control is serviceable, the 3D control is still bush-league.  There are 3 kinds of 3D sequences in Sonic Colors: “free roam,” “drift” and “quick step.”  It’s all split up to compensate for Sonic Team’s inability to tightly control Sonic in the third dimension, a problem since Sonic R.  That extra axis of control just doesn’t seem mix with the insane speed that the developers want it to operate at.  The best of the three, 3D sequences are the free roam areas, due to their lack of speed and emphasis on solid platforming or Wisp usage.  The other two don’t fare well at all.  Drifting is about as good as it was in Sonic R, which is to say that Sonic controls like a tank, and Quick Step would be cool if shifting lanes were mapped to the shoulder buttons, but they aren’t.  Thankfully, the game is only in 3D for about 30% of the time (ironic that a game that is mostly 2D is “the best 3D Sonic game,” no?). I got used to the game’s physics after a while, like I did to Sonic 4’s, but platforming games that you have to “get used to” are flawed and no amount of excuses will apologize for it.  The point of a platformer is to run and jump.  That’s all.  If you can’t get it right, well then… you just fade away like Bubsy.  Falling into a bottomless pit as a result of the jumping mechanics was the only time I died in this game. My rare, yet similar, deaths led me to conclude that Sonic Colors is a pretty easy game.  You won’t get killed by any of the enemies, because they just stand around, waiting for you to homing attack them so that you can cross a gap.  When will enemies actually try to prevent you from progressing in a Sonic game instead of helping you cross over hazards?  When will Sonic Team realize that bottomless pits do not equal difficulty?  When will awry homing attacks stop hurling me into said pits?  These are problems that have been in modern Sonic since Sonic Adventure and they’re still hereWhy? Can I also ask why grinding still exists?  The game already plays itself on foot sometimes.  Do we really need these “on-rails” segments to literally be “on rails?”  Grinding hasn’t been relevant since Sonic Adventure 2 and yet it keeps coming back.  Also, Sonic can run fast on his own.  Does he really need 3 speed boosters to get through a loop?  Oh, right, you’re still using speed boosters to cover up your physics troubles, Sonic Team.  How silly of me to forget. The presence of decade-old issues is head-scratching, but Sonic Colors’ level design is a whole different story.  The terrain is varied, wild and not based in “real” settings, freshening up old Sonic level tropes with new environments (water level’s needed more pagodas, I tell you).  From bouncing on a hamburger, to flying through a lush, alien world, the terrain always feels fresh and is dictated by its surroundings, making level design varied and unique.  Planet Wisp is the highlight, focusing on towering, difficult platforming that is sure to please any fan. These praises start to vanish during Aquarium Park and vanish entirely in Asteroid Coaster, though.  While Aquarium Park’s theme is great, the level design boils down to giant pools of water.  Since Sonic can swim now, it makes it all the lamer.  Asteroid Coaster suffers from “same old shit” by relying too much on spectacle and gimmick levels.  All of that clever level design just… dies.  Asteroid Coaster comes as a letdown, as it’s not difficult or intriguing in the least.  Terminal Velocity, the last level of the game, is a snooze-fest. Keeping things interesting are the Wisps, little aliens that bring power-ups back to the Sonic series.  I don’t really have much to say about these guys.  They do what the announcer says they’ll do and they work as they should.  It makes for more variety and crazy fun, especially if you’re tearing ass up the side of a tower with the spikes. While you’re tearing said ass, please, take in the scenery.  The graphics are some of the best on Wii and really illustrate what third parties can do if they actually put some effort into their games.  I would like to see Sonic Colors run at 60 frames-per-second, instead of 30, but it doesn’t make it any less playable.  The soundtrack is fantastic as well, ranging from orchestral bombasts to hard rock.  Like a Sonic game’s level design, the soundtrack should be unique from stage to stage, creating a set list that’s an eclectic blend of musical genres.  Sonic Colors definitely delivers here.  SEGA needs to stop soliciting these awful bands, though.  Cash Cash joins the likes of Zebrahead and Runblebeein the Butt-Rock Hall of Fame (Presented by Crush 40 & Pizza Hut).

Good thing it didn

As mentioned before, Colors did away with the goofy stories and worthless secondary characters for this game and benefits from it.  The light-hearted, tongue-in-cheek approach to the story has been missing from Sonic for a while.  When you see a game not take itself too seriously and pull it off with an endearing charm, you tend to put up with some of its shortcomings to a degree. The new voice actors are the best yet.  While you could say that they benefit from having better writing and better direction, they are talented in their own rights.  Roger Craig Smith brings back the unabashed arrogance Sonic has been lacking since he started speaking in games and Kate Higgins makes Tails sound not like a girl.  Mike Pollock has always been a treat and you can hear him having a lot of fun with his performance. There’s a multiplayer mode in here to talk about, too, but it sucks.  So… yeah.  Don’t bother with it (unless you want the super secret surprise). When you get done playing the story mode in Colors, you’ll notice that it didn’t take long.  I finished the story mode in about 5 hours.  In terms of replayability, the game has new paths, sights to see and red rings to collect when you play them again with your new Wisp abilities.  While a nice effort, it won’t take experienced gamers long to beat the game outright.  I’ve got all S-Ranks and red rings and I did it from playing a little bit over the course of 2 weeks, clocking in at around 13 hours.  It’s a short game, but it’s better than a long game padded out by guns and telekinetic powers. Sonic Colors is not the best Sonic game ever made, no matter how much Iizuka wants to think that, but it is still a good game with all of its many faults.  They finally listened to critics and got rid of all of the stupid crap around Sonic and made a few improvements here and there, but they forgot to get rid of the stupid crap within Sonic’s gameplay that has consistently been there since Sonic Adventure.  I will say that I was having fun with this game up until the mid-point of Aquarium Park (which is a good chunk of the game), but to see the same mistakes get made once more is frustrating and holds Colors back from elite status. If SEGA and Sonic Team want to create instant classics again, they need to get their priorities in line.  No more swords and werehogs is a great thing, but perfect control and consistent creativity is better.  That goes for any of their Sonic games, not just Colors. “Beer Wisp” for Sonic Colors 2.

Second Opinion by GeneHF

You’re on your way, Sonic. After years of continual slip-ups and horrible ideas with terrible execution, Sonic Team have put out a Sonic game that “gets it,” but not without flaws. The use of Wisps, granting Sonic new temporary abilities, enhance the 2D sections of the game quite nicely, adding a stronger focus of exploration to stages for alternate paths or secret items. One thing I found especially good about this approach is that players were actually punished for running through the stages Sonic Unleashed style in their end-stage rank instead of calmly progressing through the stages. However, the game hits a few snags with familiar problems in platforming, especially with how Sonic’s jump handles. Often, you’ll find yourself unsure if you’ll make a jump or not and either miss or fall into a bottomless pit. Though Sonic now has a slight double jump, the double jump doesn’t necessarily carry the momentum from the first jump, which can cause problems. Sonic’s drifting and sidestepping also feels odd, especially with the decision to keep side stepping locked to the control stick instead of shoulder button on the GameCube and Classic Controller pads. Another snag is the real lack of variety in bosses. Instead of designing unique bosses for each of the zones in the game, Sonic Team opted to create four and recycle three with small tweaks to try and make them a little different. It just came off as lazy. The game’s strongest suit is its presentation. There are amazing visual cues, such as the Starlight Carnival level, that you’d expect only from a Nintendo-made game. The soundtrack is also on point, giving some music that is catchy and fits their respective stages, as well as strong voice acting, even if the script can be a little head-scratchingly cheesy at times. Do make sure to check out Eggman’s announce clips online. There’s fantastic material there. Overall, the game is a definite step in the right direction for the struggling franchise. The adventure is a bit on the short side.  In this case, that’s hardly a bad thing at all with the bonuses and the 21-stage co-op and versus local multiplayer mode included in this package.

Previous Post Next Post

You Might Also Like

45 Comments

  • Reply

    aquarium park is the best zone in the game

  • Reply

    Also, in response to Gene’s post, you DO retain momentum from a double jump, granted that you’re holding forward when you do the jump.

    • Reply

      I did do that, but Sonic still feels like he slows down about 50%. For the record, I played the game entirely on the Gamecube pad.

      • Reply

        As did I, and I get what you’re saying. That happened to me FREQUENTLY and pissed me off a lot. :/

  • Reply

    The aspect of the game which deserves to be praised above all else is the presentation, as mentioned by both reviewers, because it regularly achieves the unthinkable feat of matching Nintendo blow-for-blow, on their home turf no less. However, the aspect which I feel deserves ‘second place’ in the praise ladder is the wisps, which have implementation, function and controls that exceed the Suit powers of Mario Galaxy.

    The wisp powers really do ‘compliment’ Sonic’s abilities, as opposed to ‘pulling a Werehog/Adventure’ by forcing other genres into the mix. The placement of wisp capsules causes the player to pay much more attention to their environment, looking for fun or useful opportunities to utilize them. The only time I died for a reason where I felt the game engine/level design was to blame was when I somehow hit a transition to 3D while using the Drill Wisp; all other deaths I experienced felt attributable to my own lack of skill or perception, which I could then learn from and not repeat the mistake again.

    Let the review outlets praise the game as much as they want. It’ll send the message to Sonic Team and Sega that they’re finally hitting large veins of gold instead of the scarce and scattered blocks they’ve mined previously.

  • Reply

    Great review, guys. You both nailed the game’s shortcomings while praising its best parts. Good work.

    Sonic Adventure may not be a great game, but at least for Sonic’s gameplay it felt fast, smooth, and controlled better than any game after that. Even the Adventure Fields were good, unlike the hub worlds to come after that. The rest of Adventure may have been terrible, but the good parts were really good and in the right place: Sonic’s gameplay.

    As for 3D speed and spectacle, Sonic Colors far outdid Sonic Unleashed for the Wii, but the HD version seemed to deliver more thrilling sequences and mostly better use of 3D platforming, but it’s still essentially flawed by allowing Sonic to go too fast for too much of the time. This is something Colors carries over, unfortunately, and should be discarded or revised by the next mainstream console Sonic game.

  • Reply

    I don’t think I’ll ever understand the complaint made about this game’s physics… the only thing I had to get “used to” was the double jump, which came more as a pleasant, workable surprise rather than a chore.

    And apparently no one else the short jump here…

    • Reply

      Yeah, I know about the short jump, but I shouldn’t have to mention it.

    • Reply

      Pretty much this. I thought the physics was pretty spot on, and drifting is tighter in this game compared to Unleashed. :\

  • Reply

    What I feel about this review is that you did manage to point out its flaws and bad parts, but I wouldn’t over-criticize it. Considering how much crap we got in the past, I don’t count the Sonic Adventure series as “suck”. I thought it was great and the second one was apparently much better.

    I think that in the idea of Sonic Unleashed the running stages were warm-ups for this game. The games began to improve a bit from the daytime stages in Sonic Unleashed, and Sonic and the Black Knight was, well, somewhat good. Sonic 4 managed to give us what we wanted except for the weird physics.

    I’d say that we’re about half-way to greatness in the Sonic series now (that halfway to greatness mark being Sonic Colors), and this is basically a good review. Not what I consider to be great, but you got some of the critical parts down pat (multiplayer, last levels are boring, some flawed areas, etc.). Once again, good review.

    • Reply

      No, Sonic Adventure sucks.

      • Reply

        Please Slingerland, go die in Takashi Iizuka’s bed.

        • Reply

          Who are you again?

        • Reply

          Sub-argument requires sub-sub-thread. This argument could be fun.

          Oh and for the record, I shall disagree with Slingerland on this one. Sonic Adventure is awesome. Flame me all you want, but Sonic’s Dreamcast outings are the only games I consider superior to the Mega Drive games.

        • Reply

          Man, Gmail is slow. I JUST got the message that I was replied to twice. Anyway Slingerland, I’m just some guy who read this and disagreed for the umpteenth time with your view on something. No one important. And Writer’s Blah, Sonic Adventure holds a very special place my heart too.

        • Reply

          You should have said that first instead of saying “go die,” because it’s hard to take an opposing viewpoint seriously. Now, do you like Sonic Adventure because of the nostalgia or because it’s a good game? For it’s time, it was great (I liked it, too), but look at it now as a game and not as a childhood memory. Then, get back to me.

      • Reply

        YOU suck.

    • Reply

      Nah, bro, Adventure does suck quite a bit.

      • Reply

        At least is better than the shit released for Saturn xD

  • Reply

    So~ the game’s actually shit? Damn.

    • Reply

      Actually, we both agreed it was good, but still has problems. If anything, give it a rent if you’re not sure.

    • Reply

      Nice not reading the reviews. As Gene said, both reviews said the game was good, but it still had flaws. But honestly, no game is perfect. Though I do hope Sonic Team can do even better in the future.

    • Reply

      Good job being like any typical hipster and concluding that if a critic says a game isn’t perfect, then the game is istantly shit.

      • Reply

        Said the Sonic Retro member.

        • Reply

          Hey, critics never gave 10/10 to retro Sonic games, so this is a rule we should abide to :V

  • Reply

    One thing about Colors’ replayability comes in the form of it’s leaderboards. Say what you want about how you earn points in the game, but what really kills it is Sega’s horrible implementation. To update the scoreboards, you can only do it for one stage and one act. You have to slowly connect to the Nintendo WFC server, then it updates the board, disconnects you and forces you to wait a minute or two before updating the leaderboard again or let alone update a different level. It’s awful. It’s also in every Sega Wii game.

    • Reply

      Well, is that in any other Wii game with leaderboards? (assuming they exist)

      • Reply

        No, because in Sonic & Sega All Stars Racing for the Wii, that doesn’t happen.

      • Reply

        Mario Kart Wii, Sin and Punishment, Geometry Wars Galaxies, and Trauma Center: New Blood are just a few that support leaderboards. Some of them have the same problems, others handle it quicker and easier.

  • Reply

    “Sonic Adventure is a terrible game”

    BURN

    IN

    HELL

    • Reply

      Sonic Adventure has not held up in the past 10 years. If you compare it to something like Super Mario 64, and how those games progressed, the output of Sonic games are almost inexcusable.

  • Reply

    Atleast Sonic Adventure had pretty okay music instead of what we get nowadays. Wasn’t big on the controls and graphics, though.

  • Reply

    You sure like harping Sonic Adventure. As for your link, it proves one thing: 
    That the ports and their considerable lack of effort have left the game to age pretty badly. When it first came out though, reviews were sparkling. So I’m going to assume you were one of the few who disliked SA from the beginning. It really wasn’t a bad game. “wasn’t” being more appropriate as the game came out more than a decade ago. Do we call Sonic 1 bad because of its port on the GBA?

    • Reply

      I think we should spread your words across the world. That’s the example I was so sure existed somewhere.

    • Reply

      “Do we call Sonic 1 bad because of its port on the GBA?”

      That’s the dumbest argument I’ve ever heard. I guess you didn’t read my review but I said that I once liked it. As time went on, however, its nostalgic value has been overshadowed by its poor design and programming.

  • Reply

    Everyone keeps saying that the game wasn’t difficult. I remember AM8 saying that they were trying to make the game user friendly and easy. Sonic 4 was SUPPOSED to be the difficult one. For the older/original fans ofcourse.

    Sonic Adventure was the best 3D sonic game that come out at the time. Everyone was trying to push 3D games, so you can’t really get mad at them for trying. It got much praise when it came out. So for its time, I don’t think its bad. But you would think they would fix their FOUND problems in later games. Tsk tsk.

    This Sonic Colors review is a good one guys. Lets all hope that the future games will only get better.

  • Reply

    I like cocks in my ass and fail at proving points.

  • Reply

    I feel like Sonic Adventure is more of a platformer than Sonic colors, but hey different strokes for different folks, Its a well written essay, but I disagree completely. Sonic Colors feels like its all speed and little platforming, the mix of the 2 feels ackword, I thought SA had a good mix, it doesn’t live up as well as when I was 10, but I still have fun playing it, witch is more than I can say for colors.
    I want to stress I am not trying to come off as a raging fanboy callinbg everything I disagree with unprofessional. Im Just one fan disagreeing with another.

  • Reply

    Face it guys sonics dead……we’ll miss him

    • Reply

      We will be serving pizza and chips at the eulogy.

  • Reply

    ” got used to the game’s physics after a while, like I did to Sonic 4’s, but platforming games that you have to “get used to” are flawed and no amount of excuses will apologize for it.”

    Can you clarify this? By this logic, damn near every platformer I’ve ever played is flawed, if not every platformer period.

    • Reply

      I shouldn’t have to spend so much time trying to get used to a game’s physics. I didn’t get used to the game until about Aquarium Park. That’s almost the end of the game. With a great platformer, I should understand how the game works within a few minutes. Everything in a great platformer functions how you would expect it to. To use Sonic 4 as an example, when you’re running that fast, you’re expecting your momentum to carry over. When it doesn’t, it’s jarring and aggravating. I understand that it’s a cartoon hedgehog in a fantasy world of animals and robots, but there has to be some real world foundation in how a platformer handles.

  • Reply

    I liked the game, but I was really disappointed by the almost complete lack of behind-the-back sequences.  Don’t get me wrong, the 2D parts of Sonic Colors are some of the best platforming I’ve had in a Sonic game, but I still prefer Unleashed’s day levels.

  • Reply

    To me, a classic is a retro game that holds up well long after it is released. SA1 dosen’t. Back to topic, I enjoyed this game a lot, but the drift and double jump are a bit fiddly.

  • Reply

    I understand where you are coming from; however, with the success of Sonic Colors, and the failure of 06, that gameplay style is probably dead. It was great but if Sega try again they would probably mess it up.

  • Click on a tab to select how you'd like to leave your comment

    Leave a Reply