Sonic the Hedgehog has had a bit of a rough ride in gaming during the 3D years, but Sonic Colours was a title that proved popular with fans when it launched on the Nintendo Wii. Most critics seemed to like it too, whilst it was certainly a step up from the previous efforts on the console, Sonic and the Black Knight and Sonic and the Secret Rings.
Naturally, when it was announced the game was going to be remastered with Sonic Colours: Ultimate, there was plenty of hype from gamers. Getting to play the same adventure all over again but with revamped visuals would be a treat, whilst it would also give those who missed it the first time around the chance to give it a try.
With the game releasing in 2010, the question did linger as to whether or not the gameplay would hold up eleven years on. Thankfully, Sonic Colours: Ultimate is still a lot of fun to play, even if it can fall short of the mark here and there.
Check out a gallery of screenshots down below:
Sonic games aren’t really known for having deep narratives and that’s certainly the case with Sonic Colours: Ultimate. Basically, Eggman has made a ‘theme park’ in space… sounds harmless enough, right? Well, it would be, if he wasn’t capturing alien creatures known as Wisps to power it up for his nefarious schemes. Long story short, Sonic and Tails head to the park to take down Eggman, rescue the Wisps, and save the day.
Gameplay-wise, Sonic Colours: Ultimate blends together both 3D and 2D-style mechanics in its stages, with Sonic heading through levels and hitting homing attacks on enemies across both viewpoints. As expected, there’s a big emphasis on going fast, with Sonic able to collect white Wisps in order to power up his boost meter. Boosting feels great, especially on the 3D levels where it helps smash enemies to smithereens on the linear pathways, whilst it also fits the whole ‘gotta go fast’ vibe of the franchise perfectly.
The 2D sections of levels require a bit more precision from players, though they never feel especially challenging. There are multiple pathways to follow, hazards to evade, and enemies to beat up, but I only died a handful of times during my whole time playing. In fact, the biggest hindrance came with the controls more than anything, where some floaty jumping could make it a little difficult to land on some platforms accurately. It’s never a big problem, but there were a few times where the pace of the game would break because I’d have to perform some slightly awkward jumps or an obstacle got in my way.
“Sonic Colours: Ultimate blends together both 3D and 2D-style mechanics in its stages, with Sonic heading through levels and hitting homing attacks on enemies across both viewpoints.”
That’s not to say the level design isn’t slick though, with some entertaining stages on offer that bring with them plenty of replayability thanks to the Wisps. Sonic is able to use the power of Wisps in each level, with different coloured Wisps bringing with them a different ability. The green Wisp allows Sonic to hover, the pink Wisp gives him a spikey form that will stick to objects around him, the cyan Wisp allows him to blast around levels as a laser, the yellow Wisp turns him into a drill that can tunnel through levels… that’s just naming a few, with others available that each bring different uses. They’re generally pretty fun and add some neat ideas to the game, though I did find that I only really used them if I specifically needed to in order to progress or grab a collectible. At least the newly introduced jade Wisp is especially handy though, with its phasing ability allowing players to easily get to some of the more hard to reach areas of the game.
Some of these Wisps have to be found in specific stages before they can be unlocked across the whole game, meaning you won’t be able to find all collectibles in your first run. There are five red rings to be collected in each stage, but some require specific Wisp powers to get to. It’s a neat idea that adds to the replayability of the experience, especially since Sonic Colours: Ultimate’s stages are fairly short. In fact, I initially beat the game in around three hours, so that replayability is essential to get the most out of the experience.
“Sonic is able to use the power of Wisps in each level, with different coloured Wisps bringing with them a different ability.”
There are six worlds to get through in total that bring a decent amount of colourful variety to the game, with Starlight Carnival standing out as a personal favourite of mine thanks to its neon-lit landscapes. The Sonic franchise has always had some wonderful worlds to explore and Sonic Colours: Ultimate certainly delivers some vibrant and chaotic locales. It’s a shame that the same variety isn’t found in the boss fights though, with a lot of them sharing mechanics outside of a few attacks. It made each encounter with them feel a little dull, whilst the fact they weren’t particularly difficult to beat meant that there was little excitement to be found battling them.
At least variety was found elsewhere, with some stages bringing with them cool sections that spice up the gameplay a little. Some of the rail-like set pieces felt especially enjoyable and complemented the frantic pace of the game, whilst launching across stages with an array of homing attacks will ALWAYS be satisfying to me. There’s also a Game World to visit that unlocks new levels when you’ve collected set amount of red rings, optional showdowns with Metal Sonic, and plenty of customisation options in place to give your Sonic his own unique look.
Sonic Colours: Ultimate started off as a Wii game, so naturally it isn’t going to look as good as a lot of modern releases. It’s something that’s especially apparent with some of the character models and cutscenes, where you can see that you’re playing a souped up last-last-gen game. With the 4K resolution and 60fps frame rate though, it looks pretty enough – especially since the environments are bursting with vibrancy.
Sonic Colours: Ultimate Summary
Sonic Colours: Ultimate has some shortcomings, but the slick level design and enjoyable gameplay ensures it remains entertaining eleven years on. It’s fun to tinker around with the Wisp’s abilities, the world design is wonderful, and there’s plenty of replayability found with the collectibles, so it definitely holds up well.
There could be some imprecision with the controls in the 2D sections and the bosses were a bit naff, but Sonic Colours: Ultimate is still plenty of fun to play in 2021.
– Slick level design
– Wonderful and colourful worlds
– Plenty of replayability across levels
– Jumping controls can be a little clumsy in 2D sections
– Dull repetitive bosses that lack challenge
– The Wisp’s powers can feel underutilised
Developer: SEGA, Blind Squirrel Entertainment
Platform(s): PlayStation 4 (Reviewed), Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC