Sonic Colors: Ultimate Review
“Sonic, he can really move. Sonic, he’s got an attitude. Sonic, he’s the fastest thing alive…”
If those first few sentences seem familiar, then you definitely knew Sonic the Hedgehog from his cartoon days back in the 90’s. In my case, my childhood memories of Sonic were from the animated series and the Sega Genesis games, which resurfaced when I got to play Sonic Colors: Ultimate for the first time.
Sonic Colors was initially released for the DS and Wii back in 2010, something I never got to play but knew about since it was touted as one of the better games in the long-running franchise. As the opportunity presented itself, I looked forward to checking out its latest release as Sonic Colors: Ultimate, which sports improvements apart from being released on more platforms this time around.
Step into a colorful world of fun and danger
First and foremost, something to remember is that this is still a Sonic game through and through. Whatever you think that means, it certainly entails (heh) a story that is simple and straightforward, and that’s not a bad thing at all.
It’s the tried and tested formula of Dr. Robotnik (they actually refer to him by his Japanese name, Eggman) cooking up a nefarious scheme and it’s up to Sonic and Tails to stop him. In the case of Sonic Colors: Ultimate, the evil doctor’s plan is to construct a massive amusement park in space, all the while capturing an entire race of aliens called Wisps to use as energy to keep the park running.
The main campaign alone will clock in anywhere from 5-10 hours depending on how you play, and if you are familiar with the animated series from before, there are indeed a few things that might catch your fancy here.
The tone definitely screams “Saturday Morning Cartoon”, amusing and very light-hearted. Robotnik’s two robot henchmen, Orbot and Cubot, may very well swap places with Scratch and Grounder from the said show and their interactions are quite funny.
Sonic is the muscle of the group, spitting out cocky remarks before laying the beatdown on his enemies. Tails also manages to be fun in his own way, being the brains of the pair and providing Sonic with lots of support, even returning some of Sonic’s witty remarks with his own. It’s especially a big hit of nostalgia considering they got Tails’ original voice actor to reprise the character.
Let’s go on a wild ride
If your only exposure to Sonic are the classic titles from the Sega Genesis, then the gameplay here in Sonic Colors: Ultimate will feel very familiar. You run a lengthy course, collects rings, and reach a goal where a giant ring is waiting – a pretty classic Sonic format if I may say so.
Sonic Colors: Ultimate takes place in an Amusement Park and the game constantly reminds you of that. The game’s different levels are so vividly colorful – from the pastry-themed Sweet Mountain to the bright and dazzling Starlight Carnival. The different Acts in each “attraction” provide an ever-changing platform experience with constant camera changes that makes it feel like you’re on a wild rollercoaster ride.
As with a typical Sonic game, don’t expect to play through these levels just once. There are different paths to take to the end goal, as well as numerous collectibles like Red Star Rings and Special Rings that are scattered throughout. You’ll definitely want to be on the lookout for the latter as they can let you customize Sonic’s look with purchasable accessories like gloves and trails.
Speedrunners (literally Sonic) will have a blast trying to get the best time and score for each level, something that is characteristic of most, if not all, Sonic titles. Of course, to help with that are Sonic Color’s new additions, the Wisps.
These multi-colored aliens are a fun addition to gameplay on account of very useful abilities that Sonic can utilize. These can range from giving Sonic the ability to phase through walls like a ghost or even turning him into a frenzied growing, chomping monstrosity. Certain parts of the different Acts can only be accessed using these powers, making them quite essential for your adventure and encourage a bit of backtracking, adding a bit of replay value.
Sonic Colors: Ultimate is not only a visual treat, but the soundtrack certainly fits the fast-paced nature of the game. There aren’t any standout classics like Green Hill Zone or Starlight Zone, but there’s sure to be some tracks that will stick and make you tap your feet. The musical themes in the Aquarium Park, in particular, were a joy to listen to, with their mix of oriental and sometimes mellow tunes fitting of a water-themed zone.
Apart from the rather short campaign, the controls aren’t exactly something to write home about. Oftentimes, Sonic felt a little floaty when jumping that I’d fall due to losing control. His double jump also didn’t exactly feel like one on account of how short it looked. They both take a bit of getting used to and unfortunately there’s nothing you can change in the options to fix it.
Despite this, performance is quite good, with Sonic running at 60fps for the most part and 4K resolution depending on what console you are using. Sonic Colors: Ultimate looks good, but definitely could be better especially given the technological leap from the Wii. It definitely leaves something to be desired, and especially when you consider that this is actually one of the better games in the franchise, Sonic Colors: Ultimate could have used a bit more TLC.
What We Liked:
- Exciting and Colorful Level designs
- Catchy Soundtrack
- Fun and light-hearted moments with the cast
What we didn’t like:
- Short campaign length
- Boss mechanics can get repetitive
- Uneven difficulty spike
- Shoddy controls
Verdict: Wait for it.
Sonic Colors: Ultimate is a solid platformer and a great return for Sonic the Hedgehog. While considered one of the better titles in the franchise, this release could have used a bit more love in some places.
The game suffers from a rather short campaign and aside from the unlockable Super Sonic mode, some of the end-game content feels rather average and the most you’ll likely be doing is setting new time and score records, not quite heavy on replay value if that’s what you’re looking for.
Fans of Sonic and the game will definitely appreciate the nostalgia kick and if anything, this is the definitive version of the classic title. Sonic Colors: Ultimate may not offer anything groundbreaking and may feel average for current gaming standards, but to longtime fans, it’s definitely a return to form for a beloved fast running, ring snatching, wise-cracking, and robot smashing video game icon.
Sonic Colors: Ultimate is now available for the PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series, Switch, and PC.
*Sonic Colors: Ultimate was reviewed on a PS4 and PS5 through a review code provided by the publishers.