Review by GavLuvsGA
"This makes Sonic Adventure 2 look like Sonic Labyrinth; almost - the best Sonic game in ages!"
Unlike many purists for the old school Sonic games of the Genesis era, I enjoyed many of the more recent Sonic titles, despite games like Sonic and the Black Knight proving to be something of a disappointment. I bought Sonic Colours based on the rave reviews that I saw it getting in the newspapers, and I was not disappointed.
This game actually combines play styles of the old and new Sonic games, and actually manages to flow seamlessly between two and three-dimensional gameplay within the levels, which is something I've rarely (if ever) seen in a video game. The controls are similar to those in classic Sonic games (even when the game is in three dimensions), and the various gimmicks that encourage Sonic to do trick moves that came into fashion following the sub-standard Sonic Advance 2 have practically been phased out.
There is one addition to the gameplay, and that involves use of wisps, which help you get through levels and find secret areas, and are not as childish as they sound. White wisps will give Sonic a speed boost if the B button is held down, while other colours allow Sonic to perform various other skills; for example, turn into a laser beam, fly and burrow in the ground while dodging robot moles (which the game manual gives no warning of!) I noticed one of the skills owes something of a debt to the Mario games, as Sonic is given the power to turn certain blocks into rings and vice-versa; sound familiar?
The game has a few variations in the 3D gameplay style, with certain sections where Sonic is prompted to move left and right and behave almost like you are playing a racing game; there are a couple of other gimmicks that are slightly overdone during later racing sections; for example, groups of flying robots will appear and try to zap you with lasers, or a mob of robot ladybirds will appear and force you to try and knock them out by crashing into them; one level genuinely revolves solely around the latter. There is also a somewhat annoying enemy who chases Sonic a couple of times and can be very difficult to avoid without a lot of practise (but this is thankfully quite late on in the game!)
One other issue that occasionally crops up is that sometimes the screen zooms out into what Kryten from Red Dwarf would probably describe as long, long range, so that is shows a huge amount of the level, but as a result, Sonic is tiny and you run the risk of killing him just because you can't figure out where he is; fortunately, this is used very rarely. My only other gripe is the timer; while the Sonic series dispensed of the idea of having Sonic drop dead after ten minutes, it is still used to determine whether a time bonus is awarded; whereas on previous games, each checkpoint saved your time and you restarted with the same amount if you died, the timer keeps going after Sonic loses a life, making it harder to get a time bonus if you keep making mistakes.
The game is divided, as usual, into zones, in the form of individual planets, accessed via the level map once they are unlocked; these each contain six acts and a boss stage. The acts are of varying length, with some proving to be surprisingly short, and the zones all have various themes, most of which bear very little comparison to previous games, providing some originality. Sweet Mountain seems at first like the childish Sweet Dream level from Mario Party 5, but proves to be a lot more fun, Asteroid Coaster includes Sonic attempting to ride roller coasters in space, along with several other death traps (running around planets is very fun in this area), and there is also an obligatory underwater level, Aquarium Park, which also has a Japanese theme and features samurai robots. Curiously, Sonic is actually more agile in water than in many previous Sonic games, since he can practically swim to the surface most of the time just by jumping repeatedly.
Enemies in the game are not particularly exciting, and once again a lot of very generic robots appear, although there are a few buzz bombers and fish reminiscent of the classic Sonic games. Boss fights are very impressive looking, although the six main zones actually only have three bosses between each other each of them returns for a second bout, with the only difference being that they are harder to kill; the first boss looks impressive, since it is enormous, but can be taken out in less than 30 seconds.
In addition to the main game, there is also a game land, where you can play extra levels, eventually unlocking Chaos Emeralds (yes, they didn't forget about these). These bonus levels can be played with two players, and feature Sonic and another hedgehog who looks suspiciously like Shadow; you can also play as your Mii, but I stopped after one go since a human head on Sonic's body just looked daft. Extra levels in this area are unlocked by obtaining special red rings; five can be found in each level of the main game (I know, it's just like the Princess Coins in Super Mario World). The levels in game land are mostly easy to play, and feature most of the gameplay styles from the main game, including the wisps, though there are added gimmicks such as Robotnik faces that chase you around and fruit machines that give you rings, and I loved the fact that some of the levels are actually modelled on parts of the classic original Sonic the Hedgehog that came out on the Genesis twenty years ago.
Overall, gameplay is fun and addictive, with the only drawback being that there are a few spots where the game forces you into mashing buttons (to allow Sonic to gain extra height in a few place, for example), a common video game fad introduced by games like Banjo Tooie and Mario Party on the Nintendo 64.
It's not bad; it's somewhat similar to many of the previous games, in that Dr. Robotnik (I refuse to call him Eggman) wants to capture creatures and have his evil ways; this time, he has set his sights on the wisps, and is using them to create a giant theme park. Sonic and Tails show up to stop Robotnik, and attempt to save the Wisps; the story is enjoyable to watch during the various cutscenes, and is often hilarious mainly because of Robotnik's inept robot henchmen. There's no sign of any of the many characters that were introduced in many of the Sonic games created since Sonic Adventure, include Amy Rose, Big the Cat, Rouge, Blaze and even Knuckles is nowhere to be seen, but the fact that there is not a massive cast of characters is actually a pleasant change.
The music and voiceovers are decent, so I have no complaints about those. I particularly love how you can hear Robotnik making various announcements within the levels, usually about attractions in the theme park and emergency measures, and they actually get quite amusing if you hang around long enough for example, in one level he starts talking gleefully about a hover car shaped like an egg being broken into before suddenly realising whose car it is; the only drawback is that often you can't hear them properly over the background music.
The graphics are almost perfect, with huge amounts of detail given to each level, including the hover cars that fly over the tropical resort, the painstaking detail given to the underwater areas in Aquarium Park and the character animations are slick and among the best I have seen in a Sonic game.
This game has a lot of replay value, partially because of the enjoyability value, and also trying to obtain all of the special rings and chaos emeralds. You can also obtain S ranks on each level if you get enough points, and getting these on every level is likely to require a huge amount of playing.
Overall, this is the best Sonic game I have played in ages; while most of the new-age Sonic games are good fun, this puts them all to shame.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 08/31/11
Game Release: Sonic Colours (EU, 11/12/10)
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