Review by Big Bob
It has problems, but this is the best Sonic game I've played in a long time.
You know the drill. Sonic games have been sucking lately, from the abysmal Sonic 2006, his "bleh" Wii game in Secret Rings, and the "had-potential-but-they-ruined-it" Sonic Unleashed. But finally, Sonic Team got it right. They made a Sonic game that's just fun. There's nothing getting in the way between you and the fun here, which is all Sonic fans really wanted.
The basic outset this time is that Eggman has created an amusement park in space, which Sonic and Tails have shown up to. Naturally he's up to his old tricks, and is abducting aliens to harness their powers. Sonic helps them, and the variety of them assist him in gameplay. While Sonic games aren't about story, I have to applaud it here, because the game knows exactly what it's getting into. There's no angsty drama involving Shadow or Silver. There's no in-depth explanation for Sonic's werewolf abilities. We aren't given a huge backstory involving the aliens and their plight. For once, a Sonic game knows that it's supposed to be fun, and just rolls with the opportunity. The cutscenes can get a bit hokey, with jokes falling flat, but the game is kind enough to let you skip them if you just want to keep playing.
Thankfully, the game is great fun. It understands that cheap deaths are annoying and frustrating, and for the most part keeps them tucked away, though a few spring up in the later levels. I'd still rather platformers do away with limited lives altogether, but Colors is very generous with its 1-ups, keeping you in the action. Even if you do get a game over, the levels are short and sweet, some over within minutes, but there are so many that it's not an issue. As for the gameplay itself, it's what you would expect a platform game to be. You run left to right or back to forward depending on the camera, using various tricks like Sonic's speed or homing attack to progress. Control is often taken from the player in order to provide a spectacle, but overall it keeps you in the action and demands the player's involvement.
Of course, I have to mention the Wisp aliens, who are differently-colored, providing Sonic with a variety of abilities in order to progress. You've got laser, drills, rockets, balloons, spikes, blocks, and my favorite, a shark. The colors are used creatively, not usually required to progress, but encouraging the player to use them to explore and proceed in a unique way. Some levels required a bit of ingenuity with the alien powers, which makes them all the sweeter. None feel overused or repetitive, and considering the pace at which you unlock them, you'll be able to go back to older levels with new abilities, giving the game a great sense of replay value.
As far as the presentation goes, I loved it. This is a beautiful looking game, both on a technical level and artistic. It's probably not going to win any "best graphics" achievements, but as far as Wii games go, I'd rank it up with Super Mario Galaxy as far as the art style is concerned. The game also boasts excellent music, and while it has the cheesy lyrics Sonic games are known for at this point, a lot of the level tunes stuck out to me.
Like I said though, the experience isn't always smooth. Sonic is a bit slippery at times, and it's a bit too easy to overshoot your footwork and fall to your death. Some game mechanics aren't explained very well, leading to some frustrating trial-and-error. Later levels tend to drag on, and don't offer the player crucial checkpoints. And boss fights are a bit repetitive. The dialogue is a bit grating at times, and I'm not too fond of Sonic's voice actor.
But despite all my complaints, I think this is a fantastic game. If you're a Sonic fan, get it for sure. If you enjoy platformers, I'd highly recommend it (though you also have Kirby's Epic Yarn and Donkey Kong Country Returns to fill that fix). With so many games becoming "serious" these days, it's so nice to play a game that's just fun. Pure, unadulterated fun. Sonic Colors gets so many things right that I can't hate it, and you shouldn't either.
Rating: 4.0 - Great
Product Release: Sonic Colors (US, 11/16/10)
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