Okay, hands up all those people who remember when Sonic the Hedgehog games were good. Now, out of those three people, who has any hope left for the blue rodent? That’s right, none of you and you have very good reason. It’s not even a case of “once burnt, twice shy”, Sega have been pumping out horrid Sonic games for near on a decade and been getting away with it. That’s part of the reason why I stayed away from Sonic Colours. I just didn’t want to be disappointed yet again and the only people who were saying anything about the game were those die-hard glue-sniffing Sonic freaks who believe Sonic Heroes has some merit (it doesn’t) and that there were some tactics to be found in Sonic The Fighters (there wasn’t).
To all the Sonic fans who still believe he could star in a good game within this lifetime, I have this to say … WE MADE IT! Oh dear god we made it. Sonic Colours is what it needs to be by Sega finally adhering to a time immemorial rule : less is more.
Sonic Colours is the definition of a linear game. Much like the Mario games of note, one way in, one way out and a road or two in-between. Colours does not throw monsterous sized open fields to get confused in and doesn’t bring a crowd of wankie loser “friends” to destroy the fun of a fast paced title by trying pathetically to mix up the action with shooting levels. It would be easier to judge Sonic Colours by what mistakes have not been made from past entries in the book of “what not to do in video games”.
Sonic Colours is set in Dr. Eggman’s newly built intergalactic theme park where he is draining a bunch of cute aliens of their energy to power a huge mind control device. Normally, story in Sonic games are like Bjork’s lyrics, regardless of how good the substance is, the delivery will destroy any credibility. Sega is notorious for hiring the worst voice actors this side of William Shatner’s vocal coaching however this time, they have made a decent effort to have competent portrayals of their characters. What little cheesiness there is, is actually intentional and works brilliantly with the humour having some surprisingly laugh out loud moments. So the writing is far superior to past Sonic games.
If there was ever a game that could inflict epilepsy, here it is. The speed of this game is blisteringly fast with much of the challenge and reward revolving around your decision and reaction time. The graphics keep crisp so there’s no mistake about where your feet can safely fall and very rarely, but not absent, do you feel that the game has cheated you into death. The controls are easy to grasp and have been given surgical accuracy with basically any controller that can be used on the Wii being an option. So the game’s engine is far superior to past Sonic games. Do you see a pattern emerging?
The sweetest bite of this gaming pudding lies in the level design. With a game that effortlessly moves at the speed of light, a superhuman focus on the playing field is required to keep the game flowing whilst entertaining, rather than frustrating the gamer. The levels can be broken down into three different styles. The excellent side scrolling glory of the original Sonic games of old makes a much needed return with loop de loops, spring jumps and corkscrews bringing reminiscent tears to the eye. The second is similar to the few fleeting moments of fun from more recent Sonic titles where one steers from a third person perspective while the blue hedgehog does what he does best : run at warp speed. The last seems a bit strange to describe but when integrated well, it does serve the overall package. These sections are when Sonic’s controls are on rails and you pick a “lane” for him to run along, switching to avoid obstacles and ram enemies.
Ultimately, it is the marriage of simplicity and consistency that makes Colours feel like a proper successor to the cherished Mega Drive Sonic games but Sega just couldn’t help but add a little something, could they?! Luckily, the addition is a welcome one, in the form of the different aliens being enslaved for the evil plot called wisps. As Sonic finds these trapped wisps, they grant a one-off power, differing in nature from a ground traversing drill, an air travelling lazer to an obstacle eating monster and many others.
Sonic Colours is an amazing return to form and is good enough to forgive many of the years of horrific games that the creators, Sonic Team, have offered. With eye bleeding speed, luscious graphics, a great voice cast and witty dialogue, the quality of the experience should not be missed, especially by fans of the older games. Those new to the franchise may find confusion about why the series has become so hated over the years for here stands one of the greatest offerings the Wii has. For the first time ever, my only gripe is that it is only on the Wii because a game this good should be enjoyed by everyone.