Sonic Colours

Sonic Colours (or Sonic Colors if you’re American, or just unable to spell words the proper way) is a bit of a strange beast. It’s a combination of Sonic Rush on the DS, Sonic Heroes on the PS2, and a hefty helping of Super Mario World, Yoshi’s Island and even Mario Galaxy. That being said, it could be the best 3D Sonic game yet – including the recently released Sonic 4 on XBox Live Arcade.

At its core, there is a nice solid Sonic platform game – and while Sonic 4 was an extension of the Megadrive games, this game seems to be more of an extension of the Sonic Rush games on the DS – and that’s no bad thing. Sonic has a rush meter, and a double jump – as well as a slide attack, and Wisp powers… but no spin dash. He has also been possessed by aliens that open up a whole host of new powers – although some of them may seem a little familiar.

There are lots of elements that seems to come directly from New Super Mario Bros. Sonic now has a ‘super stomp’ that means he can break through blocks directly underneath him – but the biggest link to the Mario games now seems to the new Wisp dynamic. A green wisp gives you an ability to float up the screen, a lot like Mario did when he got inflated. A yellow Wisp gives you the ability to drill through soft soil, or scoot around underwater – a lot like the submarine and mole drill in Yoshi’s Island. The blue Wisp swaps some solid blocks around, very similar to the P Switch mechanic in a lot of Mario games. The spinning lifts and bouncing platforms following a predetermined track also feel very Mario – as does trying to find the 3 hidden red coins… err sorry got confused with New Super Mario Brothers there, I mean five red rings, with stars in the middle hidden around each area. Also just like Super Mario 64, and Super Mario World, you have to unlock certain Wisp abilities then go back to places you have already visited. Still, if you are going to copy from any video game – the Mario stable of games are good ones to borrow them.

The music, it has to be said, is great; one of the best Sonic soundtracks for some time. I love it – although others may find it annoying music can sometimes just be personal taste – and it is downright the funniest Sonic game ever. From the bot with the faulty cowboy sound chip, to the alien Wisp translating Dr Robotnik as Baldy McNosehair, the cut scenes are actually entertaining, while being broad enough to appeal to the intended kid audience. And there’s no dodgy cross species romance between a hedgehog and a girl getting themselves in a prickly situation.

There are some innovations as well, the Chu Chu Rocket style Wisp with the sky diving sections, the pink needle Wisp (although some might cry that it’s similar to Samus’s sticky ball in Metroid) and the Wii exclusive purple Wisp that turns Sonic into a glowing shark thing, destroying blocks and enemies in his path… and we’re just going to ignore that Mario did a very similar thing in New Super Mario Brothers with the Mega Mushroom. The 3D sections are similar to the Sonic and the Secret Carpet and Sonic and the Black Knight sections, very playable, fast, pretty – if a little monotonous.

There’s a stripped down co-op race which is fun, if nothing that hasn’t been seen before from the race option all the way back in Sonic 2, and a nice presentation method, which looks like it’s been ripped straight off of Mario Galaxy, without the charm… or the home base to run around.

After the disappointment of Sonic Heroes, Sonic the Hedgehog and particularly Sonic unleashed, it’s good to finally see a Sonic game which I can actually say ‘go out and buy it’. The Wisps and other devices do make the game feel fresh again, and the backgrounds, from the donut loops and Smartie dispensers (I love Smarties), to the aquatic ancient Japanese levels show a lot of imagination. The intention also seems to have been good, to take the best bits of Sonic and Mario and merge them into one game.

With Sonic’s emphasis on speed, the precision jumps that it calls for can often lead you to fall off ledges, or overshoot targets. The fact that 100 rings no longer gets you an extra life seems to punish players having difficulty with the play mechanics, by forcing you back to the beginning of the level after the game over screen. And the red rings with stars, that actually unlock other worlds, are sometimes very hard to find or see – at least in New Super Mario Brothers, you could always see what you had to do, it was just a matter of being skilled enough to do it. Playing with the Wii-mote and Nun-chuck does make the play control feel even looser, and even playing with the classic controller feels better but still a bit wrong, as you have to use the analogue stick, and the jump button is A – which is not where the jump button would be if you get used to playing Sonic on XBox 360.







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