It was a tense moment on the E3 exhibition floor when Sonic fans made their way towards Sega’s booth to get their hands on the speed demon’s latest adventure on the Wii in Sonic Colors. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who expected another disappointment, since the past handful of titles have taken the blue hedgehog places he doesn’t belong. Whether Sonic has had an obsession with swords, fire, or was just in need of a good diet, his 3D adventures took him away from his high-speed roots. I can now breathe a sigh of relief after playing Sonic Colors and experiencing the exciting, vibrant mechanics behind the latest installment first hand. Skatter Tech was one of the first to bring you the announcement behind Sonic Colors’ release for later this year, and after our time at E3 2010, I’m able to eagerly report on the promising gameplay behind the sequel.
As our preview revealed, the story behind Sonic Colors takes our hero into space to follow Dr. Eggman’s diabolical plan of interstellar domination. Eggman for some reason has decided that a carnival-like theme was the most intimidating and evil theme for his plans, as every “planet” Sonic visits is filled with candy, junk food, theme parks, and color. The overworld consists of about ten levels, most of which consist of two stages and a boss. Each level looks unique and thankfully avoids seeming too childish while still maintaining a level of innocence and excitement one has learned to expect from Sonic games. I played one of these worlds in its entirety along with the narrative of one of the minds behind Sonic Colors.
Sonic Colors looks posed to surprise a lot of Wii owners with its exciting high-speed gameplay and rewarding level of depth, features that have been lacking in more recent Sonic games. I immediately discovered in the levels I played that this Sonic title wasn’t going to be bogged down with an unnecessary amount of action-adventure style platforming and at the same time won’t be simply playing itself. The levels were diverse and not as linear as I expected. The addition of wisps, each with their own unique attributes given to Sonic, is a big reason for this diversity in gameplay. For example, one set of wisps gave Sonic the rechargeable ability to speed up, another turned Sonic into an invincible laser able to destroy all enemies on screen, and one even gave him the ability to venture through underground terrain at mach speed. The programmer hinted that the style to Sonic Colors was influenced by the original Sonic Adventure games on the Dreamcast and Gamecube.
All of these gameplay elements come together to create a Sonic game that is an engaging rush with plenty to do and beautifully diverse environments to explore as you see fit. The wisps are an intelligent game changer to the series that give Sonic an arsenal of abilities that don’t always need to be used right away but can instead be saved up and used, for example, to reach different areas in the level. The boss I played was on a small 2D plane that required me to apply the wisps in a unique way that I had previously not done, creating a really exciting boss battle altogether. I think Sonic Colors could finally and truly be the Sonic game fans have been waiting for all this time. Now I know this sounds all too familiar and gamers keep getting disappointed, but Sega seems to be focusing all its attention on what the players want and what makes Sonic the famous blue hedgehog that he is.