Sonic ColoursdislikePEGI3 Developer SEGA Publisher SEGA Genre Action Platform Nintendo Wii Release 12th November 2010 I've been quite a vocal critic of Sonic and well, SEGA in general over the last few years. The ever declining quality of SEGA games in general has been something children of the 90's have grown increasingly frustrated with. SEGA's recent attempts to appease these gamers have been pretty weak, with Sonic Unleashed and Sonic 4 falling far short of 'good' on anyone's metre-stick. So does Sonic Colours finally break the mould Sonic games have been cast in recently, or is this just another moment of despair for fans and gamers at large?

Oh and this game has multiplayer. Did I mention the multiplayer? Perhaps there was a reason for that. (Spoilers: this sucks too.)
Sonic Colours opens rather abruptly to Sonic rushing through an amusement park in space, created by Sonic's arch nemesis; Dr.Eggman as he tries to make up for past transgressions. Sonic, knowing he's up to no good starts wrecking the place and happens upon weird alien creatures called Wisps. Seems Eggman has captured the aliens and are using them to power whatever evil scheme the good doctor is cooking up. The story has the writing styles of the guys behind the funny and witty Madworld, unfortunately there seems very little of what made Madworld so amazing in Colours. The dialogue wears as thin as possible about the third time a mistranslation joke shows its already wary head. Much like all Sonic games, story isn't anything worth your time, if you removed it from the game, you wouldn't be missing anything. If this is a good thing or a bad thing relies entirely upon if you preferred it when Sonic was mute or if you enjoyed the cheese Sonic Adventure brought to the party. Just be aware that this game's cheese is fully matured.

When Sonic Colours first started, I was quite impressed with the game, fun, interesting level design was on display and very little trappings of older Sonic games, such as bottomless pits which just waited for you to mess up a single jump, infact the game compensated for my twitchy playstyle with invisible walls, saving me a frustrating and embarrassing deaths. Sadly, this polish didn't last long, the game soon brings back bottomless pits with vengeance and scorn, bringing tedium with them. Oh and that invisible wall that saved me once oh-so-graciously? Don't expect that at any other point in the game, it is merciless.

And you thought the controls out of water were bad? Oh ho, ho. You haven't seen nothing yet.
The game is separated into various theme worlds, each with 6 acts and a boss. While this is a lot more acts per-world than Sonic games in the past, these extra acts more often than not are used as simply filler. Some reusing parts of previous acts but in a slightly different arrangement, the acts are also much shorter than previous games but open up a lot of exploration, which can only be done when certain Wisp powers have been unlocked by finding them in specific stages through-out the game. Exploration is mostly for one purpose; collecting hidden red rings in stages, of which each Act has five of.

The main gimmick of the game, as you may know already if you've seen any of the trailers for the game are the aforementioned Wisps. Finding them in stages enables you to perform certain abilities such as to turn into a laser and bounce off prisms, smash through enemies and take specific shortcuts through stages. The drill allows you to dig into drill-able surfaces and again, take specific shortcuts (and be murdered by mole robots who ruin all the fun). You also have other abilities such as one which allows you to hover, one that rockets you skyward, one which enables you to stick to walls and ceilings and several other Wisp powers which have varying usefulness. Some a quite cumbersome to control, while others are just arbitrary additions to the game.

Where Sonic should be. Buried.
Speaking of arbitrary, let's talk about Sonic's controls for a moment. Colours its built on the Sonic Unleashed engine for the Wii. Don't be mistaken in thinking that this engine is as good as the Sonic Unleashed engine for the 360 or PS3. It's not, and that says something. The game's controls have undertone a massive overhaul, however. Sonic no longer controls like a tank and a lot of buttons on the gamecube and classic controllers have been utilized this time around. Unfortunately, someone was wearing their dunce hat when it came to jumping, you see you're given a jump height which can't make about half of all required jumps. Instead the game gives you a small double jump. I question why there is a double jump when the standard jump is obviously lacking, and question how this got past playtesters. Unlike games such as Super Mario Galaxy or New Super Mario Bros. Wii, when you fall into pitfalls or spikes, you definitely feel cheated, the controls aren't tight enough and platforming is extremely basic as a result. Don't get me wrong, it is a step in the right direction, but it's a ponderous baby step, completely overshadowed by clunky and annoying level design which has only one high point in that it looks pretty and very little else.

Levels are also filled with useless and often tedious mechanics which do nothing but frustrate the player. One particular instance of this can be found in Sweet Mountain where you have a swinging pendulum like see-saw, where pressing the button at a correct timing to send you in the right, predefined route. Sadly, the timing on each swing is different and there are no visual or audible hints as to when to launch from it. These gimmicks will be irritating since you have some over spikes and once you fail the timing, you drop like a stone in water right onto them. Some are placed vertically above one another, failing one sends you back to the start most likely onto the spikes again. And yes, the game has the archaic notion of lives still, getting a game over, however, just dumps you back on the level select screen. (Why do we have lives again?)

Needs more motion blur, anyone agree?
There's also all sorts of problems with the game's camera, which if you're a Sonic fan, you know all about. However, unlike the camera issues in Sonic Adventure or Sonic Heroes, Sonic Colours seems hell-bent on controlling the camera for you and doing a terrible job at it. It will fly off and zoom about, often leaving you orientationally confused, only to realise you're now staring death in the face. Most the time this happens is when coming up to a gap, the instinctive Sonic/Mario/Gamer in general believes that gaps must be jumped over and the elevation of the camera made the gap look fairly short. Sadly, due to the fact the ramps you must hit to propel you over the distance blended in so perfectly with the ground, I failed to notice them, jumped and end up dying. And that wasn't the first, second or even eighth time that has happened, either (on different stages, of course). I'd like to think it's not me, and just the fact that hazards are either not well established or that aides to the player are not highlighted well enough. The camera will also screw you when it comes to low ceilings which you must slide under, however most do give you a gracious button hint, like they knew that you couldn't see the low-lying ceiling or something... (Why are there low-lying ceilings again?)

Boss battles in this game are probably the largest improvement in this game over Sonic Unleashed. They've been simplified greatly but offer very little resistance. I can't really fault the game here, bosses do their job well. Like Sonic games of old and older 3D Sonic games like Sonic Adventure 2, bosses are there to be a nice diversion from the main game. They go down easily because you don't want long, drawn-out, tedious battles which you can end up losing and having to retry them all over again pushing the tedium-o-metre through the roof (see: Sonic Unleashed, Sonic Heroes).

Lasers usually make everything better. There's exceptions to every rule, I guess.
Visually, the game is a mixed bag. And you know what, this surprises me. As far as overall effects go, the game looks wonderful. The Wii really seems to be being pushed to it's limits in recent times. Sadly, the whole thing falls apart when you start noticing the aforementioned design flaws of not being able to see important stuff. The game does give you more hints and audible cues than Sonic Unleashed to aid you, but you can't ignore such faults with the game. It's not acceptable to ask the player to compensate for this short-sightedness either. But to end the visual onslaught on a high-note, the game does have good choreography in cinematics and it actually looks like they invested a good deal of time and effort making those look really great as well.

Audibly, the game is a real treat. Sonic games have always been known for their great soundtracks through the Megadrive era, the Gameboy era and still into it's 3D era and well, all I have to do is listen to the Planet Wisp melody and suddenly Colours doesn't seem so bad... Well, until you die a dozen frustrating deaths. But the game's soundtrack is nicely varied and fits each theme in the game very well. The game's only real downer when it comes to the soundtrack? The opening and ending themes. Nails on chalkboard. I thought Sonic games had hit a new low when Zebrahead started dribbling their flavour of rap-rock (which sounds like a Super Mario enemy of some sorts) all over the otherwise pretty nice Sonic 2006 soundtrack, but the guys behind those two songs in Colours just didn't want to be out-done. It's a shame as well, because both Zebrahead and these guy's songs are pretty cool until they start opening their mouths and start singing. At least Crush 40 nailed the cheese-to-serious balance perfectly when they did their songs... Sonic Heroes didn't happen. Didn't happen, got it?

And it's about this point the game starts getting very sour.
I liken Sonic Colours thusly: it is a TESCO Value Super Mario Galaxy. It looks a bit like Super Mario Galaxy, with its crazy world designs and mechanics, but where as Nintendo has the genius of Shigeru Miyamoto, SEGA has... Anything but the creative direction or polish to make even a half decent game these days, it seems. It becomes ever more increasingly apparent that Sonic is becoming a shovel-ware brand and this saddens my inner-child to the core. I suppose it is to be expected, after-all I came into this game with SEGA's own admission that this game would not appeal to me, however I was expecting to have at least a half-decent 'new-age' Sonic, all I got was a bundle of frustration and gut-wrenching tedium. As I say, this is a step in the right direction for SEGA, but a tiny-weeny baby step. There's still an awfully long way to go.

Overall then, if I have to summarise; Sonic Colours is bad. It's not awful, it's not unplayable, but the game spends a lot of time removing control from you, bad stage design punctuates the game only to infuriate you to the point of despair. The game has charm which will pull you in and make you feel at home, but the game soon turns around and sucker-punches you right in the abdomen after not too long. Wisps add very little to the game and could very well be removed and nothing of much value would be lost. The game's controls and camera double-team you at many points through-out the game which will bring you to put your controller through the TV. When you spend most the time playing the game cursing like a sailor (without the game being developed purposefully to induce this, like Super Meat Boy) then you know you've got problems. It's just a bad game and you'll be better off skipping it.
Writing is obnoxious and uninspired, there are a few laughs to be had in it, though.
Lack of control is the game's major sin. The game remedies this by removing control from you where-ever it can. Sometimes prevention is not better than the cure.
Amazing visuals help this game charm you, but with so much vying for your attention, it causes confusion and important objects blending into the scenery.
The soundtrack is the best part of this game, hands-down. Rather than buying the game, just buy the soundtrack for a third of the cost.
6 Hours
I had a hard time finishing this game, I wanted to quit about 1, 3 and 4 hours into it but after taking out insurance on my TV and controllers, I was able to do it. I want that time back.