As far as gaming mascots go, Sonic is one of the most iconic ones out there, and since Sega stopped making consoles he’s branched out to nearly every platform out there. Now, to help mark the hedgehog’s 30th anniversary, a new and enhanced version of Sonic Colours is out – a game that originally launched in 2010 for the Wii. We tested Sonic Colour: Ultimate on a PlayStation 4 Pro.
We actually didn’t start playtesting until the game’s wide release, and at that point we had seen people’s negative feedback on the Switch version, which suffered from serious technical issues at launch. Obviously this hurt our expectations as well, but luckily our skepticism quickly made way for enjoyment, as this is one of the best Sonic games in years.
To a degree that’s not surprising either, as the original Nintendo version was also well-received at the time, and it has aged well thanks to a few audiovisual and gameplay updates. The core premise is the same though, and features Eggman’s latest plot – a plan to lure a colorful alien race into a trap with an intergalactic theme park in space. Of course this isn’t a big narrative-driven experience, but the setup does allow for the introduction of the Wisps – whose colors give Sonic temporary special abilities.
Thanks to the Wisps, Sonic can drill, or blast through the air, and what’s nice is that all these abilities feel like extensions of Sonic’s natural knack for traversal rather than elements that mess with the core formula of a good Sonic game. Instead, expect to alternate between classic 2D levels and 3D sections – as the two seamlessly mesh together in the game’s levels. It’s visually very impressive and appealing as well, thanks to an HD boost for the graphics and levels that are designed in such a way that they’re fun to visually explore for little secrets and tricks.
Compared to the Wii version, Sonic Colours didn’t just get an audiovisual upgrade but also received a few gameplay tweaks, mainly to make the game more accessible and forgiving. You’re now given unlimited lives and Tails sometimes acts like a “shield” who saves you from certain doom when you fall. Veterans and purists will no doubt miss the option to play a more “hardcore” variant closer to the original experience, but these changes will certainly give the game a wider appeal for today’s audience.
Going back to the audiovisual presentation for a minute, it’s worth pointing out that the game has a great soundtrack and quality voiceovers, both of which let me appreciate the game much more than I did when I played it last on a Nintendo DS. The various cutscenes are still fun as well, but look like the old video files from 2010 rather than upscaled versions for a new generation – no doubt because cinematics were rarely rendered in-engine back then.
But aside from small oversights like that, this is a great Sonic game that finally got what it deserved – to be shared with a much bigger audience as one of the best 2D/3D hybrid games within the franchise.