Over the last few years, Sega has had their mascot play a host of different roles, from a knight to brawler, and just about everything in between. Unfortunately his versatility hasn't really panned out so well. The third game in two months to bear the name of the blue hedgehog, "Colors" attempts to mix the successful elements of Sonic's recent games with a few new tricks.
"Sonic Colors" begins with Sonic investigating the apparently reformed Dr. Eggman's latest creation; an interplanetary amusement park built as a mea culpa to the universe for his past transgressions. Once a plot is uncovered, Sonic takes off to different themed areas of the amusement park to begin taking down Eggman once again. Overall, the plot is your standard "Sonic" fare of recent years, with Sonic hogging most of the spotlight while Tails takes a back seat, playing interpreter to a new character, Yacker.
"Sonic Colors" isn't perfect by any means, but it at least seems to have learned from some of the mistakes from recent 3D Sonic titles. There's no Werehogs, or big cats, or even hover-boards to be found in this game. While the plot is still as far-fetched as they come, Sega appears to be moving past their mistakes, trying to make a Sonic game that finds the sweet spot of the Genesis and Dreamcast classics, while updating the game for a new generation.
Let's Go Again
As you progress through "Colors" you'll come across a variety of different Wisps that you can briefly transform into, giving you new abilities that allow you to explore different parts of the levels. However, all of these transformations aren't available from the start, meaning key parts of acts will be inaccessible, leaving valuable collectibles dangling just out of your reach until you come through for a second or third pass. The Wisp transformations themselves are a highlight, as they change up the gameplay throughout the levels, but the fact that they encourage replays ups the overall value of the game.
You Get To Keep Playing
It may be a small touch, but "Sonic Colors" gives you something to do while your level-ending score is being tallied. Reminiscent of classic "Sonic" games, once the level is completed, you can jump around the screen, hitting the numbers and letter grade for bonuses, like extra rings, or even free lives.
A Game In Need Of Psychiatric Help
By the end of the first level in the game it will become relatively apparent that "Sonic Colors" is suffering from a bout of multiple personality disorder. For the majority of levels in the game the perspective and controls switch almost instantly on-the-fly. Sonic will go from running down a 3D corridor with the player only controlling his left or right movements, to a 2D section with the player controlling Sonic's forward and backwards movement, then to a fully 3D area with control of a full range of movement. Add to that sections of the game where Sonic is on rails, with the player controlling very little once the sequence begins, (maybe a jump here and there) and it becomes very hard for even experienced Sonic fans to know exactly what's coming up.
It's ironic that "Sonic Colors" is set at an amusement park, because a lot of the levels are over as quickly as most rollercoaster rides. Sonic has always been known for his speed, but the time that it takes to blow through some of the acts in this game are ridiculous, harkening back to the time it should take most people to beat your average "Super Mario Bros." level. You can take your time to explore most of these areas, especially if you're looking for hidden Special Rings, but if you aren't then they'll be over before your blink.
Hey Sega, we get it, Sonic's a family-friendly badass, but maybe for the next game he should try being the strong, silent type. Sure, "Sonic Colors" may have been made with younger gamers in mind, but most of the dialog in the game would be considered annoying, even to a 10-year-old.
In the end, it's apparent that Sega is learning some lessons, but "Sonic Colors" proves that they have a few more classes to attend. Most of the key elements of a good "Sonic" game are there; a really fast, blue hedgehog, a dual-tailed companion, rings, and Dr. Eggman, but they just don't come together to create an amazing experience. With constantly switching perspectives hampering the gameplay, and Sonic's attitude getting in the way of enjoying the story, it seems that Sega is still in search of their "Super Mario Galaxy."