Tuesday 11 January 2011

Game REVIEW: Sonic Colours (Wii)

Another year, another 3D Sonic the Hedgehog games. After so many years of disappointment (although I'll admit despite its flaws I enjoyed Sonic Heroes a lot more than I probably should have) it's a wonder I still keep coming back to Sega. But in the end, Sonic isn't just one of the great gaming icons, he's my great gaming icon - so I'll always be watching to see if he one day reclaim his former glory on home consoles (handheld is a different matter entirely - the Sonic Rush series has been nothing short of fantastic).

And if any game since Sonic & Knuckles is going to do it, it's this one.

The premise is simple - Dr Eggman/Robotnik/whatever you call him these days seemingly turned over a new leaf has opened a huge intergalactic theme park made up of several different worlds, and Sonic and Tails being, well, Sonic and Tails don't trust him and discover a plot to take over the world using a mind control beam powered by a race of aliens known as Wisps. Cue the robot smashing, ring collecting and general speediness.

So that's your plot - no additional characters, no mythical all powerful creatures and (much to my surprise and joy) no final battle involving Super Sonic. Being written by the odd combination of the writers for TV series LazyTown and Happy Tree Friends, the story gives off a feeling reminiscent to the slapstick style humour of the 90s cartoon The Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, and this is the style perfect for a Sonic game (about time they cracked it). This is reinforced by the addition of new voicing for the entire cast (except Dr Eggman, but then Mike Pollock has more than proven himself to be the perfect man for the job) who fit into their roles already far more comfortably than the 4kids cast ever did.

But what about the gimmick? Every 3D Sonic game has a gimmick! Well, this is true, but in this case its far less scary than its predecessors. Sonic can utilise various different wisps in order to give him different powers e.g. a yellow wisp will turn Sonic into a drill capable of burrowing underground, green wisps give him the ability to hover, cyan wisps turn him into a laser beam etc. While initially this is a bit eyebrow raising, the wisps have far less impact on the game then you'd think. While admittedly there are several occasions where they're required (especially if you want to 100% the game) and some feel like a bit out of place (hover) or more like they belong in a Mario game (cube), it is still very possible to enjoy the game solely on the merit of being Sonic. And to those of you thinking "Sonic, as a drill? Really?" is it that much of a stretch to imagine him spinning so far he can make himself into a drill on his own? He did it in the cartoon, I don't see why he can do it here. The game play is very similar to that of the daytime levels of Sonic Unleashed, improving upon them and creating a smooth blend of both 2D and 3D level sections. The controls are slightly more than 'run and jump' but still as simple as a Sonic game should be. And not a fan of motion controls? Well this game supports wiimote, nunchuck, classic controller and gamecube controller options, so there's something there to suit everyone's tastes.

At times some levels might feel short, but with 180 red rings to find this game offers quite a bit of replay value - and some of those rings are really well hidden. Upon collecting those and getting the chaos emeralds from the subsequent unlocked Sonic Simulator mini games, you are treated with the ability to play through levels as Super Sonic - a first for a 3D Sonic game. If that isn't a damn good bonus, I don't know what is.

Sega have given us so many duds in the past they were due for a winner sooner or later, and Sonic Colours is that winner. If Sonic Team continue to improve upon what they've done with this game, we could be seeing a true hedgehog revival coming our way sooner than later, and I couldn't be happier about it.

1 comment:

Morgan Izzard said...

I'm a closet Sonic Heroes fan too! Think I'll be giving this and Sonic 4 a go soon.