(Available for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC)
(PlayStation 4 version used on a PlayStation 5 used for review)
(works on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X and S via backwards compatibility)
This year Sonic celebrates its 30th anniversary and as a result, we’ve had some animation, a concert livestreamed on YouTube, the announcement of a new Sonic game for next year (untitled at this point though Sonic Rangers has been uncovered as potential title by data miners), and the release of a remaster of Sonic Colours with the game running at 4K 60fps on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and running at 1080p 30fps on Switch. Out of the 3D Sonic games that were released around that time, Sonic Generations was my favourite and the best reviewed, however Colours was a fan favourite and considering it was a Nintendo Wii exclusive upon its release with no other re-releases, it made sense to get another chance. The game sees Sonic working his way through an Intergalactic amusement park created by Dr Eggman as a front for capturing Aliens known as Wisps. The big gimmick this time being that Sonic collects powers as he collects wisps, and they provide new ways to reach the goal. Rather like many of my other reviews for remasters I’ll more be concentrating on the updates to the game, though my opinion of the Wii game is that I like Sonic Colours and think it’s a good platformer and has a good soundtrack. My only complaints are that the levels are too short, the graphics haven’t aged well, it has issues with its camera and I don’t think it handles the boost formula of 3D Sonic games as well as Unleased or Generations since you can’t use it as much as the rings don’t refill your boost gauge. It’s a few small things like that which stop me loving Sonic Colours, but the remaster was released, and I was keen to give it a go.
- Graphics and performance: Sonic Colours has some of the best stages in the series in terms of how they look and the concept of the design. We now can not only finally see all the levels not named Planet Wisp (which was remade for Sonic Generations) not only in HD but 4K and the game looks great. I really appreciated how well it popped out, especially in regards to the use of colour and the game ran pretty smooth at 60fps in my experience. Asteroid Coaster is a particular highlight for me on both counts which is why it’s probably not a surprise it’s still my favourite level
- Interesting level design: Sonic Colours always had level design that used the at the time new control scheme a little more to its fullest and encourage you to use all sorts of different kinds of platforming to get from one end to the other, rather than just pure speed. Personally, I’m not always a fan, but I have to commend them for trying something and working within the limitations of the hardware they were using at the time. The levels stay mostly the same though some things like red rings have changed locations to take account for the new features like the new Jade Wisp
- Post-game: Sonic Colours Ultimate really comes into its own upon beating the game when you can take part in more of the games features and new content. For a start you can once again play all the levels with all the Wisp Powers unlocked. Therefore, tackling these levels becomes a lot more fun as there are multiple ways to reach the goal. It’s also how you receive the new Jade Wisp, which I enjoyed using (though I found it to be very similar to other powers like the Cube Wisp or the Hover wisp, which slow down the game a bit too much). Similarly, this is when you can unlock Rival Rush which is a genuinely challenging race against Metal Sonic across multiple levels. While these are fun, there sadly is only 6 of these which gives the feeling the game was rushed to meet a deadline of coming out in the 30th anniversary year. There’s also collecting the Red rings which unlocks more levels for Sonic Simulator which is once again required to get the chaos emeralds to unlock Super Sonic. As a result of all this I once again enjoy the post-game more than the main game though there is many Sonic games I could say that about.
- Controls: It controls fine for the most part, though maybe it’s just me, but I swear the developers messed with the physics a little bit. Sonic’s jumps in particular, feel a lot more floaty and I found it was way more difficult to do precise platforming this time around. I also felt like the controls were designed to slightly replicate the Wii Mote rather than to adjust the game slightly to have a control scheme like Unleashed or Generations, which is what I was hoping for.
- Cosmetics: This game adds the ability to change up Sonic’s shoes, gloves and boost effects. They are entirely cosmetic and don’t affect the gameplay which is fine of itself but given that Sonic has a great character design I barely felt a reason to mess with it, as it didn’t affect the gameplay.
- Updated soundtrack: The game has a few new mixes for this game and it’s a mixed bag. I like the new version of Reach for the Stars, though I also say the original is just as good. The rest are fine, but they weren’t so good that I thought it was worth the new mixing and kind of made me wish you could turn on the original soundtrack. The worst offender is Speak with your Heart, the closing credit song, which actually sounded really good when it was played with the symphony orchestra at the 30th anniversary concert and assumed it was the version in the final game, but the version they settled on for the credits sounds terrible and was the worst version of it. Seriously listen to the version for the anniversary concert and ask why it wasn’t used.
- Cutscenes not updated: They look appalling. These were fine for the Wii but they were not in 4K. Sega simply recycled the cutscenes from the Wii and upscaled them rather than giving them new renders and they just look ugly. You put all this effort into making your levels and gameplay look good and you screw this up. Go watch mine and Ren’s stream of the game and you get a genuine first time reaction to how bad they look
- Levels seem even shorter: Due to the higher frame rate, the levels now seem even shorter than they were before and that was a big complaint I had with the original. It’s not as bad as Sonic Force’s in that regard but it did have a similar effect of ending a level just as I was getting into it.
- No lives: I have no idea why Sonic team is obsessed with the idea of giving you unlimited lives in a Sonic game these days. This was first introduced in Forces, and it sucked there too so why put it into Sonic Colours. As a result, there’s less punishments compared to dying and less reward to getting 100 rings which takes much of the jeopardy out of the game. The game introduces Tails Saves which allow Tails to rescue you from a bottomless pit and keep you going, but it doesn’t really feel much different to what happens if you die not holding any. Please end this stupid experiment for the new game because it’s getting annoying.
- Terrible glitches, particularly on the Switch version: The worst thing about this game is that it has got tons of technical issues. It’s less of an issue on Xbox One and PS4 and I didn’t really run into any other than a couple of audio screw ups, but with the amount that have been recorded and shown, it’s impossible to ignore. The Switch version is so broken I am amazed it was released. The visual glitches are absolutely game breaking and unacceptable, and a word of warning; they could cause seizures. The switch version absolutely needs a patch since it’s downright unplayable in its current state. I would say look online to see just how bad they are, but I would really not recommend it given the risk.
Sonic Colours Ultimate on PlayStation and Xbox consoles is fine for the most part but the Switch version is downright awful, which is a really bad use of your priorities given that this was going to appeal largely to a Nintendo audience. The game doesn’t feel like a major update which would make it the Ultimate version. I wish the physics had been fixed a bit more and I think getting rid of unlimited lives. When it runs well, the game looks great and is enjoyable to play but it’s not the 3D Sonic game I’ll return to often, and I don’t think the new features are entirely worth it (though it does add more time to the game length). It’s fine enough and I’d even recommend it over Sonic Force’s in many regards but for Sonic’s anniversary I was kind of hoping for more.
If you really like Sonic Colours and you own a pc, Xbox console or PlayStation console by all means pick it up but you can easily wait for a sale which is what I’d recommend. The Switch version is so bad you had to wait for a patch before picking it up.
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