Sonic and I have a very love hate relationship. I've always thought he was a cool character, and have endeavored to like his games, but they just never did it for me. I had a bit of fun with Sonic Heroes, but since then things have gone from bad to worse. Sega has butchered their icon with mediocre, to bad, to horribly bad games over the past several years, but things were finally starting to turn around. Sonic EP 4 was a return to the series' roots, giving Sonic fans what they wanted. The DS Rush games also helped alleviate some of the backlash over things like the Werehog. But all is not well, and here I sit after finishing Sonic Colors, disappointed in Sega for once again letting me down. I had high hopes for what appeared to basically be Super Sonic Galaxy, but alas, Sonic Colors is not the game I was hoping for, or even a good game at that.
Sonic Colors sees Sonic and Tails taking a trip to an amusement park, built in "secret" by Eggman. Sonic is sure Eggman's up to no good, and wouldn't you know it they soon discover that the park is not meant for fun and games. It turns out that Eggman has built his park, in space, in the middle of a cluster of alien planets. These planets are home to a species know as Wisps, and they hold untold power inside of them. So of course Eggman has to go barging in, intent to use their power to build a mind control machine capable of controlling the entire world. With no one else to help, Sonic has to foil his plans, smashing robots and cracking wise along the way.
Normally, platformers aren't know for their stories. It's usually "so and so is in trouble, go save them" and that's all you need to go jumping on your way. I wouldn't even mention it in most cases, but Sonic Colors is so abysmal, so incomprehensibly awful, that I feel it's a disservice for people not to know going in. It's not so much the story, as the dialog that I take issue with. I understand this game was aimed at kids, but I doubt even the dumbest kid could put up with this. Every line is worst than the last, which notables being stuff like "I'm totally calling him Baldy McNosehair" or "You missed the BRBE Tails! Best Robot Beating Ever!". It's bad, even for a Sonic game, and it only gets worse. One running gag is Tails misinterpreting everything the aliens say, but the writers couldn't leave well enough alone. Not once goes the joke land, and you just want to yell at him to shut up and stop translating, but you can't, and he never does. I can't put it strongly enough how miserable an experience the story of Sonic Colors is, so just take it from me that you should skip each and every cutscene you can. There is absolutely no need to watch them.
Sonic Colors is a cross between the gameplay of Sonic games of yor, and the more recent 3D entries. For the most part you stay in 2.5D, ala Klonoa, moving along much as you would expect in a Sonic game. These are when the game is at it's best, but even that isn't very good. Sonic is floaty and has an annoying momentum to him, that makes moving at anything but top speed a lesson in frustration. You'll repeatedly fall and run into enemies, because Sonic moves like he's walking on ice. When the game goes to 3D, you actually get to run fast for a change, but the majority of these lock you into three lanes, and all you can do is move left or right, and occasionally jump. It's just not fun, and gets old really fast.
The gimmick this time are the Wisp powers, but they never become anything more than that. The little aliens allow you to turn into a number of different forms, from a rocket to a drill, and beyond. But less than half of these actually help the gameplay. The rocket is virtually useless, taking complete control away and only serving to possibly collect out of reach coins. The others either aren't used enough, or control awfully. These aliens must all have ADHD, because they can't sit still for a second, causing you to curse the game as you wrestle with getting them to go the right way. The boss fights are one of the few interesting aspects of the game, but the fact that they are all repeated really takes the wind out of my sails. Fighting a giant robot Ferris wheel was cool the first time, but that's about it.
The greatness of any platformer lies in it's controls, and Sonic Colors manages to screw even this up pretty bad. Heaven forbid you have to play this with a Wii Remote, or even a Wii Remote and Nunchuck. It's extremely imprecise, and shaking the remote to activate your Wisp power doesn't work even half of the time. To even attempt this game you really need a gamecube or classic controller, the others shouldn't even be considered an option. And for those looking for a value in their games, Sonic Colors is rather short. It took me somewhere between six and seven hours, and I found no reason to replay levels outside of trying to get an S rating on them. Personally, this seemed pretty pointless, and will likely disappoint those that don't care for leaderboards and time trials.
As bad as everything else is, the graphics of Sonic Colors are actually really good. True to it's name, the levels are bright and vibrant and are overall look really nice. There's a ton going on in each level, and somehow it all manages to mantain a completely smooth frame rate. The different alien worlds all have a unique theme to them, and it's breath taking to see some of them for the first time. But by the third or forth level, they lose much of their gusto. The majority of the levels feel very much the same as the last, almost seeming like the developers were given building blocks, and just task to rearranged them to pad out the game. You'll see the same things, over and over, and do the same things over and over. It would have really benefited the game to be a smaller, downloadable title, with each world condensed into a single level. Sega wanted to give us more, but opted out of taking the time to make it unique.
I've already told you the dialog is bad, so I'll spare you the rant about the voice acting. You can only do so little with a bad script. The sound effects are standard Sonic fair, possibly recycled from the old games. You can't really fault them for that. It worked in past games, and it works the same here. The music is not the strongest it's ever been. It ranges from ok to bad, swapping between techno chip tune and the more traditional rock Sonic games have had recently. When it's not aggravating you by repeating the same riff over and over, it's fading into the background trying not to be noticed. I wish it did this more often, as it only serves to make you more angry during play time.
Despite SEGA's best efforts, Sonic Colors turned out rather lousy. The gameplay is sloppy, the presentation repetitive, and the dialog atrocious! If I didn't have a personal pledge to finish the games I start, I don't know that I would have given Sonic Colors a second look. It fails to make Sonic relevant again, and does nothing but conform to the things that never really worked in past games. If Sega ever hopes to have Sonic move out of the realm of the bad and mediocre, they need to leave the kids market behind. Sonic Colors serves to show that better than I ever could. It's shallow, not fun, and not worth you time. For a few shining moments the game makes you believe it could actually be something, but just as soon as it comes, the feeling disappears, being replaced by years of bad design and gameplay that fails to satisfy. Sonic fans should find a new hobby, and pray it doesn't destroy their beloved mascot the way Sonic Colors does.
Final Opinion: 4.5/10 Bad
Not this review was of the Wii version of the game. The DS game is completely separate, and this review should not be considered a judgment of that games quality.
Edited by MrNinjaSquirrel, 12 March 2013 - 09:12 PM.