If you’re a Sonic the Hedgehog fan like I am then you know the franchise has a history of ups and downs. I loved the 2D games as a child but once the franchise made the jump to 3D the quality started to decline. Even still, I played a lot of them even if they weren’t the best whether it be Sonic Adventure, Sonic Heroes, Sonic Forces, and yes even Sonic 2006. One that I always felt bad for missing out on was Sonic Colors that released on the Nintendo Wii over a decade ago. I always heard good things about it but missed out on it at the time. Thankfully I’ve now gotten to experience it as Sega and Sonic Team have brought it back as Sonic Colors: Ultimate. How does this 2010 game fare in 2021?
In terms of story I enjoyed Sonic Colors: Ultimate quite a bit and I think that’s because it focuses mainly on Sonic, Tails, and Doctor Eggman. I love Knuckles but outside of him I never really cared about any of the other characters that were introduced in the 3D sonic games. This game focuses on Sonic as he sets out to stop another diabolical plan by Doctor Eggman who is trying to enslave an alien race known as the Wisps to keep his Interstellar Amusement park running. The story and dialog is cheesy at times but it’s good fun and I enjoyed the ride it took me on.
The amusement park is the hub world in the game and here you can select to jump into several different worlds. Each world has around six levels to play through and at the end it culminates with a boss fight. Your purpose in each level is to race through guiding Sonic to the goal while dodging obstacles. Sonic gets some new abilities in this game thanks to the help of the Wisps. There are different colored Wisps that you unlock along the way and each of them has a different ability. The cyan colored ones let Sonic turn into a laser to bounce through certain objects, yellow lets him drill through surfaces, pink lets him wall climb, and so on. The team even added a new Wisp to this Ultimate version called a jade Wisp that turns Sonic into a ghost that can fly around the level and pass through things. When you unlock new Wisps, they will become available in levels you haven’t played yet as well as previously beaten ones which makes it worth going back and replaying them to see what new things they make possible. Some of them are more fun and better controlling than others but I appreciated the spin they brought to the gameplay.
While I enjoyed playing through the game It does still have a lot of the same issues that other 3D Sonic games have had. The game features both 2.5D sections and 3D sections and both have their issues. The camera can make things difficult to judge at times which makes performing jumps and homing attacks more difficult than they should be. I would frequently misjudge things and end up messing up or dying because the game just didn’t work as it should. The game is still more enjoyable than some other 3D Sonic titles I’ve played but this is far from perfect. Every level that you finish grades you with a letter grade depending on how you performed. If you don’t get the best grade the first time around coming back when new Wisps are unlocked may allow you to finish it faster and get a better grade. Another thing to add some replay value includes red rings to collect in the levels that open up special stages. Completing these levels will reward you with the chaos emeralds and of course once you collect all of them you get to play as Super Sonic which is always fun.
So what else is new in this Ultimate version outside of the new Wisp? Well the team has added tokens that you can collect that can be exchanged for new shoes and gloves for Sonic, Rival Rush mode lets you race against Metal Sonic in select levels, and Tails checkpoints have Tails save you when you would otherwise fall. The game’s visuals have also obviously been touched up to run at 4K and performance at 60FPS. The cutscenes didn’t get that 4K treatment though and instead look exactly like they did over a decade ago. The soundtrack is a jam like it usually is in Sonic games with some nice pop-style music. Trophy hunters will find 47 trophies to collect including a Platinum. You’ll have to get all the red rings, earn S ranks and more to collect them all.
Sonic Colors: Ultimate brings a decade old game to a modern audience and despite some prevailing franchise issues it’s still an overall good time. Racing through these levels, using the Wisp powers, and picking up all the collectibles is fun so long as the controls aren’t getting in the way. The game’s new lick of paint makes it look really good and performance is super smooth as it should be. I missed this game when it originally released and am glad I got the chance to experience it now. Hopefully the next new actual Sonic game can figure out the control issues though.
*Sonic Colors: Ultimate is available now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC. PlayStation 4 version reviewed. Review copy provided by Sega for this review.