Everyone’s favorite high-speed blue hedgehog is back in the remastered version of Sonic Colors: Ultimate! From its original release in the Nintendo DS and Wii back in 2010, the game offers enhanced visuals and a faster framerate; as well as a new soundtrack, character customization, and an unlockable mode called Rival Rush.
For someone who has rarely played platform games, my experience with playing Sonic Colors: Ultimate can be described as thrilling and lively. I have watched my sibling play a lot of Crash Bandicoot and Spyro to know how platform games usually are, but I have to say, Sonic Colors: Ultimate made me appreciate Sonic’s brand of platforming. I have not hollered in front of my PS4 in the longest while, because truly, this game had me button mashing with anticipation in every obstacle of the course.
A Stellar Improvement
While I don’t really have much experience with the other installments, I have to say this is a great way to be introduced into the franchise. Based on the original games from a decade ago, this remastered version has enhanced the overall gameplay and graphics. From low-poly figures to a fully-rendered 3D textured environment with a smoother framerate, this is truly a remarkable boost for such a classic game.
The game’s ambience is amazing. Its new environment encapsulates the whole interstellar galaxy theme which the whole game is set in. The gorgeous neon lights and lasers add on to the whole otherworldly psychedelic look which are emphasized with the changes in camera angles in different levels of the game. Oh, so you’re dashing through a shiny galactic bridge? Let’s flip you up and spin you to the next asteroid!
I have to say the random change of angles and gravity in this game piqued my interest. There is no indication on any course that the game will instantly do that to you. You will have to find yourself hurtling into increasing speeds of a rollercoaster ride or free-falling into the depths of empty space. It’s fantastic!
(Note: For players who have certain sensitivities to light and sudden camera movement, I have to put forth a warning, for this game can be overwhelming.)
Non-Stop Action Gameplay
Accelerating with super-Sonic speeds while dodging obstacles, braving hazards, fighting Eggman’s machine cronies (and also Eggman himself!) on top of maintaining a good record time is what the game is all about. I have been instantly thrust into the first course without any sort of idea on what to expect, but thankfully, the game is pretty straightforward and provides helpful tips (indicated with a “?”).
Tails accompanies you in the game and is the player’s guide and navigator. He explains how things work once you pass through those (“?”) guides. These tips appear in different levels, especially when there’s a new power-up or enemy to be introduced. There are also red hazard signs that appear in the middle of a course that warn of incoming dangers: like places to possibly fall from and elevated floorings that can cause Sonic to trip. Tails will help you get back to your last checkpoint if you did fall, though, which is a relief. Armed with these tips and the game’s Autosave feature, I acclimated into the gameplay fairly quickly.
Jump, Double Jump, Slide, Boost, Homing and Stomp Attacks–these are some of the many in-game actions you can do with Sonic. Sonic Colors introduced power-ups with aliens called Wisps, and this feature has since become a staple in the franchise. These Wisps vary in color and have different abilities that can enhance Sonic’s progress in the game by combining with them and thereby changing his form. It’s fun to see Sonic combine with these Wisps for he has a catchphrase for every type of Wisp ability he gets/ He can turn into a high-speed laser blur, a drill, a floating ghost, a rocket, a ball with spikes, a shark-like entity that eats everything–and even a shockwave-inducing box. Now, you might be thinking these are mighty ridiculous, but these Wisp power-ups offer abilities which help in overcoming certain obstacles built in the courses you have to finish.
And speaking of finishing courses, how do you do it? Just simply reach the finish line! The end of the course is marked with either a ginormous golden ring with a star in the middle or a set of caged Wisps you have to set free. There are seven locations with various courses that you have to go through, and each location has a corresponding ‘Boss’ to defeat.
Collecting different kinds of rings and yellow park tokens jock up points if you want to reach certain ranks. The game grades you from D (the lowest) to S (the highest) which can be changed in every replay. Of course, staying alive is crucial in this game because you lose all your acquired rings in each failure that happens and will bring down your current score. You will find that restarting a level to be your common go-to if you want to rack up to the good ranks. You don’t need to get a high rank to move on to the next level, though. Finishing the course is key to progressing in the game.
On another note, gathering Red Star Rings unlocks the Rival Rush mode which is a new feature in this remastered version. Park tokens can be used to unlock custom cosmetic equipment for Sonic which can be accessed in the Settings option at the title opening. Deck out Sonic in the trendiest designs for his gloves, shoes, and even the types of his speeding aura! A golden Super Sonic is also unlockable after being successful in Rival Rush mode. It’s good to grind for this content because this version of Sonic is incredibly powerful to use and it may be easier for you to snag the highest ranks in your playthroughs!
Saving the Wisps and the World, One Park at a Time
Like its straightforward gameplay, the story for Sonic Colors: Ultimate is simple and easy to grasp. Doctor Eggman, Sonic’s primary nemesis, has created an amusement esplanade in space to apparently atone for his past crimes. But the park is just another setting for his nefarious schemes! He has captured the alien Wisps to convert into energy–powering his mind-controlling laser to take over the world! It is up to Sonic, with the help of Tails, to liberate the Wisps and to stop the Doctor.
The seven locations in the game, which are six parks and one terminal, are what Sonic needed to investigate and to plow through to progress with the story. Each park has a unique theme and environment as indicated with their names. Experience a festive vacation night in Tropical Resort, treats and pastry indulgence in Sweet Mountain, crazy lazer races at Starlight Carnival, lush foliage and construction in Planet Wisp, sleazy underwater adventure in Aquarium Park and a bumpy rocky ride with Asteroid Coaster. Terminal Velocity, which also serves as the space elevator to get to the amusement parks, is the final leg of the game and marks the end of the story. You cannot unlock it until you have finished the other parks.
On another note, Game Land, which is a Sonic-looking planet separated from the amusement parks, can be accessed freely anytime in the game. It is a simpler, optional course which you can play with friends! It has a 2D retro-vibe that definitely gives off nostalgia.
Final Verdict: 8/10
I have experienced quite some frustrations in clearing this game, but for the most part, I had a blast in this game. Like I have said in the introductions, I have little to no experience in playing platform games and patience is something I have to build in playing these types of games.
Nonetheless, I have to share that the park courses build my excitement and curiosity as much as Sonic builds up momentum in his speeds. There were points in the game that made me realize, “Oh, wait, that’s the end of the course? I seriously thought there would be more!” Which only made me want to play longer, restart the courses, and improve my high scores.
The obstacles are challenging in each new track I unlock, thus I have done a number of trials and errors to determine the best possible route without compromising most of my rings and time record. Of course it’s daunting and time-consuming to stay in one course to gear it up to perfection. It gets repetitive at some point, but it’s how a platform game is like, right? You have to get familiar with the courses and their alternate routes to gather bonus rings and tokens for higher ranks and 100% completion.