After so many had lost faith in him, Sonic made a comeback with a welcome surprise: a fresh-faced 3D Sonic with great looks and breezy action known as Sonic Colors! A handful of flashy new abilities are tossed into the mix, but they don’t undermine the essential Sonic formula of high-speed platforming. Even though it’s not the perfect game, Sonic Colors exhilarates much more often than it frustrates, making it a commendable new entry in a sometimes shaky franchise.
The game takes place in a giant orbital theme park supposedly built by Dr. Robotnik (Dr. Eggman, if you insist) as an apology for all of his evil deeds. Of course, it turns out that the park is really an instrument for further evil deeds, with the good doctor imprisoning aliens known as wisps. And, of course, Sonic and Tails are there to thwart him. The premise of Sonic blasting through the park, liberating wisps as he goes, is all that’s needed, but some self-aware winks to the audience nudge the story from perfunctory to likeable.
The action goes from platforming in both 3D and side-scrolling pseudo 2D. There’s plenty of variety within and between levels, even without the novelty of wisps. These wisps are the colors for which the game is named; when you set them free, wisps confer on Sonic special powers according to their colors. These powers are amusing enough but still not as much fun as Sonic’s essential repertoire of speed boost, double jump, and ground stomp. The levels are engineered to encourage their use, and bonus points are awarded for doing so, but the temptation is to rely on the basic platforming where they aren’t required.
Surprisingly, the controls for a remote and nunchuk are actually okay, with the nunchuk’s analog stick used for movement and the remote used for jumping and making speed boosts. Motion control is limited to shaking the remote to activate wisp powers though. At its best, Sonic Colors has you sprinting, spinning, and dodging death as blissfully fast as a Sonic game should, with boost strips, bounce pads, and the retractable grapplelike homing attack flinging you around the level at high speed.
You might finish all the levels (there are seven for each of the six main zones) in about 10 hours, but you’re encouraged to improve your score and rank in each by collecting more rings, stars, and wisps, as well as improving your time and seeking out the alternative routes through the mostly linear levels.
Sonic Colors is a dizzying combination of the distantly familiar memories of the first few Sonic games combined with thoughtful new abilities and mostly well executed level design. There are a few issues that mar an otherwise awesome experience, but those shouldn’t stop Sonic fans and Wii owners from grabbing the best Sonic game in a long time!