Sonic Colors: Ultimate Review

Richard Walker

Released more than a decade ago, until now Sonic Colours was stranded on the Nintendo Wii and DS. As such, you'd be forgiven for missing out on it the first time around, (assuming you were of the Xbox or PlayStation persuasion instead). A remaster of the Wii version, Sonic Colours: Ultimate applies a spit-shine to what is considered by many to be one of the SEGA mascot's better 3D outings, which does seem somewhat damning with faint praise. The blue blur's move into 3D – first toyed with in 1996's Sonic 3D: Flickies' Island for the Mega Drive/Genesis, before going all-in with Sonic Adventure on the Dreamcast in 1998 – has seldom served the spiky one's speed and flow: something that worked so well on a 2D plane. Sonic Mania served as recent evidence of how good a Sonic the Hedgehog game can be.


It all begins here at Eggman's Tropical Resort.

But Sonic Colours is indeed one of the good 3D Sonic games, mainly due to its primary gimmick – the presence of aliens known as 'Wisps' – lending something a little different to proceedings. Each act has more than adequate replay value, as you access new Wisps that unlock areas Sonic was previously unable to get to, like the yellow drill Wisp, which, as the name suggests, enables you to drill through the ground, digging a tunnel to hidden nooks. Or there's the laser Wisp, which, once activated, can transport you through sparking pipes sticking out of the floor and certain walls, or enable Sonic to zig-zag between crystals. The orange rocket Wisp blasts you skyward, the ghost Wisp seemingly turns you into one of Pac-Man's pursuers, and, conversely, the purple Wisp temporarily makes Sonic a monstrous, bloated Pac-Man (gobbling up any enemies or impediments in his path). The blue Wisp transforms giant blue rings into blue blocks and blue blocks into giant blue rings, and the white Wisp feeds Sonic's boost meter.

All of this frames the usual sprinting into the screen, as the camera whips around to keep track of all of the loop-de-looping, rail grinding, and homing attacks that ensure Sonic accurately hits springs or bounces off enemies without losing his rings. Anyone with even a passing fancy for 3D Sonic games will feel right at home with Sonic Colours: Ultimate, this new version brought up to date with nicely polished visuals at 60 frames-per-second – it's remarkably smooth, and reliably good fun, for the most part. Unfortunately, developer Blind Squirrel Entertainment's remaster job doesn't extend to the game's cut-scenes, which look relatively rough when compared to the in-game action. It's a shame, as the rest of the game really benefits from a high-res lick of paint.


Cut-scenes are where you’ll find Sonic being a cocky little twat, as he sets about foiling Dr. Robotnik’s (or Dr. Eggman, rather) latest elaborate plot, which in this instance involves extracting energy from the Wisps, to build an invincible killing machine. It falls to Sonic to untether the Wisps’ homeworld and four other planets from the Tropical Resort theme park - a place built with a seemingly benevolent purpose that has predictably been created with evil in mind. The story, such as it is, provides perfect impetus to smash Eggman’s various mechanical creations, and conquer the maze of machinery and booby traps he’s concocted for you. Bosses aren’t particularly exciting, though, falling into the category of 3D pursuits/chases, 2D encounters where you have to avoid projectiles until a weak spot is exposed, or battles against vessels and their robotic pilots.

During its 45 stages, you'll speed through levels, sometimes as a passenger watching Sonic tear along coiling paths, before things slow down momentarily for some actual platforming. Sonic Colours features enough variation and a decent level of challenge to keep you hooked, and traversing platforms, using different coloured Wisps to uncover secrets, and attempting to track down all 180 red star rings will likely have you returning for more once you've sped through the game. Locating every red ring also unlocks bonus 'Eggman's Sonic Simulator' stages within the Game Land area, leading to new 'Rival Rush' races against Metal Sonic, which in turn will earn you a chaos emerald, of which there are seven. Acquire all seven chaos emeralds, and you can transform into Sonic's invulnerable, canary-yellow Super Sonic guise – a staple since 1992's Sonic the Hedgehog 2's debug cheat mode.


Rail grinding is always good fun.

When you do slow down for traversal, the camera shifts to a side-on 2D view, and there are numerous obstacles and moving parts to contend with, like sliding platforms, switches, spikes, and other hazards, in classic Sonic the Hedgehog fashion. It all works well enough, with Sonic given a nice little double jump, as well as a safety net in Tails, who will rescue you should you fall into oblivion (and have enough Tails pick-ups in reserve). As 3D Sonic experiences go, Sonic Colours: Ultimate certainly ticks most of the boxes, with its six worlds all providing neat little wrinkles to the gameplay, like the Tropical Resort's spectacular rail grinds, the Asteroid Coaster's skeletal dragon theme park ride, or the Aquarium Park's obligatory underwater section, complete with air bubbles to inhale to keep Sonic alive.

As a 30th anniversary celebration for Sonic the Hedgehog, remastering Sonic Colours for this Ultimate edition, with a few modest additions and only the most rudimentary of visual overhauls, doesn't seem like the biggest fanfare to commemorate three decades of SEGA's iconic spiky figurehead. But as a remastered experience in its own right, Sonic Colours: Ultimate represents a golden opportunity for fans to enjoy a game previously exclusive to Nintendo platforms, replete with a smattering of bells and whistles, and, of course, trophies for the first time. Sonic Colours: Ultimate is by no stretch of the imagination the best Sonic the Hedgehog game, or the best remaster, but it's a pretty darn decent one, and bound to satiate your need for speed.

Version tested: Xbox One

Sonic Colors: Ultimate

A fine remaster of a good 3D Sonic game, Sonic Colours: Ultimate delivers speedy thrills aplenty, with its rainbow of Wisps injecting a smart twist to platforming. With more than enough replay value to keep you coming back, Sonic Colours: Ultimate will last far beyond its initial 4-5 hour runtime and slake your thirst for speed.

Form widget
70%
Audio
60%

Jaunty, largely inoffensive tunes that have undergone a remix for this overhauled version of SEGA's 2010 crack at 3D Sonic will wash over you, while the voice of the blue blur will be instantly recognisable to anyone who's played a Sonic the Hedgehog game during the last decade or so.

Visuals
65%

Despite its age, Sonic Colours looks really slick at a higher resolution, graphical improvements, and revamped lighting making for a rather pretty game. It's just a shame that the same attention hasn't been extended to the game's cut-scenes, which look comparatively quite shoddy.

Playability
70%

Though it seldom veers from the established formula for 3D Sonic games, Sonic Colours still stands up as one of the more fun examples of the spiky one in three dimensions. Wisps help keep things interesting, while each of the game's six worlds, and its various added extras, will keep you entertained.

Delivery
70%

A generous selection of stages, all imbued with ample replay value, assuming you fancy collecting all 180 red star rings and attaining 'S' ranks on every level. The 'Egg Shuttle' also offers the chance to tackle the game in a single 4-5 hour run, and you can customise Sonic with various gloves, shoes, auras, and boost effects, using collectible Park Tokens.

Trophies
60%

A slightly uninspired list that mainly covers collectibles, progression, and reaching 100% in almost every facet. Gaining 'S' ranks on every stage, beating the 'Egg Shuttle' run, and collecting everything will take a fairly long time, assuming you bother to dig in for the long haul.

Game navigation