The Sonic the Hedgehog franchise hasn’t exactly had a great track record since the jump to 3D. While the Sonic Adventure series was decent, every other follow-up has been a complete wreck, culminating with the Werehog fiasco of Sonic Unleashed. So it comes as a surprise when it’s not Sonic 4, the hyped-up title that was supposed to bring the franchise back to its roots, but Sonic Colors that sets the franchise running in the right direction.
Sonic Colors pretty much does away with most of the complaints that have plagued the series for the past 8 years. You only play as Sonic, there is actual platforming as opposed to watching Sonic run forward automatically, stages don’t drag on for more than 15 minutes and there are no Werehog-like gimmicks to be found. But, most importantly, the game is actually fun.
Sonic controls similarly to how he’s done in the past. While he’s lost the traditional ability to spin dash, he can now perform a double jump, as well as a multitude of power-ups gained by combining with the game’s Wisps. These range from a drill that lets you burrow under the stage to a crazed alien that destroys everything in its path. Each of the game’s stages has multiple ways of reaching the end goal; all varying on whether you just run through a stage or use the Wisp powers to your advantage. It’s a design that reminds me of the stage layout for the original Sonic games, as opposed to the completely linear paths in most of the 3D titles. While there are still some issues with field of vision, these are minor when compared to the horrific stage-design problems of titles like Sonic Heroes or Sonic ’06.
The game itself looks great. While the animation during the cutscenes can be a bit silly at times, the in-game visuals are vibrant, fluid, and colorful. Each of the game’s areas are based on themes, such as one made out of cake and candy. The audio is typical Sonic fare, though I did appreciate that, outside of the traditional ring-collecting and Sonic-jumping sound effects, the themes aren’t recycled.
The game’s writing, while it’s nothing special, feels like an episode taken from the original “Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog” cartoon. I’d much rather have Sonic and Tails cracking jokes over “Baldy Nose-hair” than exploring the complexities of life, love and death. In addition, the change in voice actors works this time. Any voice actor that can actually make me like Tails is perfectly fine.
To say that Sonic Colors is a step in the right direction for the franchise is an understatement. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come from Sonic Team.