Can Sonic return to his former glory?
Poor old Sonic. You really have to feel sorry for him. No sooner has he cleared up one mess created by Eggman, then he has another to sort out. This time Eggman has created a theme park in space. If that doesn’t seem suspicious, nothing will. But he also seems to be trying to trap cute little alien creatures called Wisps. So Sonic takes it upon himself to rescue the Wisps and find out what Eggman is actually up to.
We also have to feel sorry for the blue hedgehog because someone has not been looking after him and keeps making him feature in games that are simply beneath his talents. Rather like the career of Nicolas Cage, Sonic has been appearing in far too many “clangers” of late and the fans are yearning for something special. Surely now is the time for the downward spiral to take a turn for the better lest Sonic wake up one morning to find himself a normal hedgehog, stripped of the stardom that made him special.
Well, Sonic fans, it appears that your pleas have been answered, as Sonic Colors is a return to form for our hero and a title that is actually worthy of his name. In fact, I would go so far to say that there may be a certain plumber sweating in his overalls as we speak, fearing that this may be the beginning of the end. But I am getting ahead of myself now. One good game does not a successful series make. But a hedgehog can dream, can’t he?
Alternating seamlessly between 2D and 3D, the action takes place within Eggman’s floating theme park in space. Being a theme park offers the game a chance to get really creative with the environments and indeed sees Sonic speeding through a huge variety of colorful settings such as the rings of Saturn and a massive water park. Whatever your thoughts are of the Wii console on which this game is played, it does a damn fine job of the visuals here. This is seriously one of the best looking games to be found on the Nintendo console and would still look pretty good on one of the more powerful consoles.
The levels are also incredibly big. Running from the beginning to the end, as may be the norm in a Sonic game,the player will miss out on a lot of what the game has to offer. With hidden paths, easier routes and goodies to collect, the traditional speed run may be best left until after the game has been completed at least once.
Sonic has his normal array of moves that will feel right at home to any seasoned Sonic gamer, with the usual running at high speed, jumping, double jumping and the hugely useful homing attack, which comes with the warning of “look before you leap” as without planning this move can put you in awkward situations with no way out. But this time around, Sonic has some new tricks.
Don’t panic, they haven’t done anything stupid like give him a sword or whatever. These additional abilities are courtesy of the Wisps that Sonic is saving, with each different type of Wisp giving Sonic a different ability to aid him on his quest to stop the evil Eggman, whatever it is that he is doing.
These Wisp granted abilities are as follows: Speed boost, which gives Sonic the chance to become even faster, Drill, allowing him to take on a mole like ability to burrow into the ground and seek out new areas or paths, Hover, lets him hover for a second or so, Rocket, launches Sonic into the air and then gives a relaxing float back to solid ground, Spikes, lets Sonic assume the ball pose and stick to any surface, Laser, hurling Sonic along the level destroying all in his path, Frenzy, allowing Sonic to eat everything and grow bigger, and finally Cube, which blows things up and rewards Sonic with coins.
With all of these new abilities, one would be forgiven for thinking that things are just going to get too complicated. But the abilities fit in really well with the overall feel of Sonic and don’t feel out of place in the slightest, whilst their use is managed in such a way that they simply don’t over complicate the gameplay. They actually feel like a natural progression for the series and are a lot of fun to use, which is what it is all about at the end of the day.
With all of this gaming goodness, you may be thinking that Sonic has done it and has returned to being on top of his game, able to look the plumber in the eye and be proud. For the most part, this is true. But there is one problem that I have. The game is on the Wii. That in itself is not the problem, but by having this title on a console that is known for it’s family friendly nature, it is going to attract the attention of a lot of younger gamers. These are gamers that have been spoilt by easy and forgiving platforming experiences, and they do not know that feeling of satisfaction that comes from finally completing a level after seeing the game over screen more times than is healthy.
Sonic Colors starts out being deceivingly simple, and then ramps up the difficulty quite substantially. Add to that a few places with frustratingly positioned obstacles, and the end result is not far off the Sonic games of old, where being forewarned is forearmed and the players progression is directly linked to their knowledge of the level. For the casual Wii audience, this may well cause some problems.
For the majority of gamers though, a bit of a challenge is no bad thing. And it can be seen as a slight hiccup in what is a true return to form for the world’s fastest blue hedgehog. Sonic Colors is high speed platforming as it should be, adrenaline fueled, occasionally complex, but above all fun. Watch out Mario, Sonic is back!