Sunday, October 2, 2011

Sonic Colors Review

Sonic just might have the most interesting profile of any video game character out there. After starring in five all-time classic platformers in the Genesis era, the quality of his games started to slide: Sonic X-Treme for the Sega Saturn was a cancelled project that was a main cause to its downfall, and the Dreamcast Sonic games, while enjoyable at the time, have not aged well at all. But things really went downhill starting with Sonic Heroes in 2004: the focus was starting to separate from Sonic and towards his underdeveloped sidekicks. In 2006, Sega released an unfinished trainwreck of a game simply called Sonic the Hedgehog, at which point most people lost their faith in the hedgehog completely. Sega realized how awful the game was, and released Sonic Unleashed in 2008, which was a step in the right direction, but was hampered by some awkward design choices. But in 2010, Sega finally got it right. After releasing the good Sonic 4 for download services, Sega unveiled Sonic Colors for the Wii, the best Sonic 3D Platformer ever and the best Sonic game in 16 years.

Sonic Colors is a 50/50 mix between 2D and 3D Platforming sections, and many different modes of control. Set inside a giant interstellar amusement part, some sections are intricate single-panel platforming sections (admitedly the weakest part of this game), long stretches of land, and overglorified quick-time events (more fun than it sounds). This balance is pretty tight: no section really overstays its welcome, but nothing feels underutilized either. The same can be said about the biggest part of this game, power-ups. A first for the Sonic series, Sonic can temporarily turn into multiple forms, including a spike ball that acts like the Spider Ball from Metroid on crack, a blue cube that turns certain markers into blocks, a rocket that blasts you high into the air, and, my personal favorite, a laser that bounces rapidly off walls and kills anything that comes into contact with it. The variety of worlds in this game is also well done, with the ability to play them in almost any order you want to. From a candy-filled wonderland to a starlight estraveganza to an interstellar aquarium, it's not just the usual fire-ice worlds that have done to death in the Mario games, a strength the Sonic series has had for a long time. The game even has a 2-Player sidequest, but while enjoyable, have some scrolling-death issues in multiplayer and pale in depth to the levels.

Challenge-wise, this game has it good. While you will run into some cheap deaths, the challenge is pretty fair and can set most people off. It's also a game for people who have quick reactions, and if you don't have this attribute, this game will teach you about it. If you're really stuck, though, you can set on a navigator, where Tails tells you how to beat the tricky parts. The Acts are huge and have 5 Red Rings hidden in them, acting as the main collectables in the game. You can also try to go for S-Rankings in each levels, which is the real test for hardcore players.

There's no questioning it: this game looks gorgeous. When you go onto some of the automated sections, take some time and oogle around the environments: they are incredibly well-done and detailed, Sega skipped out at nothing. From the cutscenes to the character models, everything looks good. Speaking of cutscenes, this game's ones can be pretty cheesy, with Sonic spouting some little puns and Eggman's robots providing comic relief. They're not the greatest things in the world, but provide a nice change of pace, and the voice acting this time is tolerable (thanks to Sonic's cool new voice actor and only him, Tails, and Eggman appearing). The game's soundtrack is also incredibly good, yet another stable of the franchise. Ranging from smooth rock, trumpet blasts, soothing piano tracks, and more, it's a shame this game doesn't have a sound test feature in it. Frequently appearing in the background are Eggman's PA announcements, and you should take the time to listen to them, they're genuinely funny.

So does this game have problems? Unfortunately, it does. There are some forced platforming sections that come right after high-speed sections, majorly slowing down the action, the boss battles are pretty dissapointing (bar 1 of them), and the Frenzy Wisp is just terrible to control in a 3D plane. Thankfully, these problems can be majorly overlooked, seeing that Sonic has faced MUCH worse issues than this.


GAMEPLAY: While it has some rough edges, Sonic has finally found 3D gameplay he's comfortable with. 9.0
GRAPHICS: Absolutely brilliant, tons of attention to detail put in. 10
AUDIO: Enjoyable as well. 9.5
Overall: Sega did it, they actually did it: they made a 3D Sonic game that can stand toe-to-toe with the Genesis games. Though nowhere near as legendary as those games, Sonic Colors is definitely worth a buy and, along with the upcoming Sonic Generations, proof that Sonic is far from dead.

9 Rings out of 10

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