Sunday, July 15, 2012

Review: Sonic Colors (DS)

Full Review:
Sonic Colors

Developed by Sonic Team & Dimps
Published by Sega
for the Nintendo DS
Released November 16th, 2010

Sonic's Truest Colors:

Like his life long mustachioed rival before him, Sonic takes it to the stars and gives Sonic fans something new and unique with Sonic Colors. Everyone's favorite (or most tolerated) hedgehog has had some trouble reliving the glory days of the past by either attempting to rekindle the elements of his 16-bit era (Sonic 4, Sonic Advance) or by taking him out of his element all together and putting him in a type of game that's simply weird or unnecessary (Sonic Riders, Sonic and the Black Knight). Fortunately for gamers everywhere, Sonic Colors breaks the streak of awful Sonic games by combining high speed platforming with innovative game design to create Sonics greatest adventure since the good ol' Genesis days.

Let's get the story out of the way first since I know that absolutely no one plays a Sonic game for its ever so intuitive story telling. Dr. Robotnik, being the generous psycho-genius he is, decides to create an intergalactic amusement park to make up for all of his past sins. Sonic and Tails, suspicious of their arch nemesis, check into the matter only to find out that, sure enough, old Ivo is stealing energy from a group of aliens called Whisps in order to create a mind control device. Sonic, along with the help of the Whisps, must now stop Dr. Robotnik and put an end to his treacherous amusement park for good.

The Whisps give Sonic plenty of new power maneuvers to utilize on his journey, which sounds a bit off putting to old school Sonic fans but actually offer an absolutely fun experience. Of course, it wouldn't be a Sonic game without the mindless speeding and dashing through miles of exotic levels and spin homing badniks to pieces and trust me, there's plenty of it. The main game plays like a charm with only minor physics errors such as air dashing when you mean to jump and vice versa.

After every world or so you gain the powers of new Whisps such as boosting, rocket blasting, fire booming, drilling, etc. By gathering energy from enemies or trapped Whisps, Sonic can boost with Y or transform into any of the other colored powers with X. The game greatly utilizes these powers by making the player perform certain energy maneuvers in order to complete a level (although some levels give the player the option of using the moves or just speeding to the finish.) Whether you're fire booming your enemies to oblivion, boosting at top speed through the level, or drilling the boss badnik to death, it's a fun experience that adds a lot to Sonic's worn out gameplay.

Of course, we can't forget about the classic special Chaos Emerald stages. In these special stages, Sonic runs through a half-pipe (very reminiscent of Sonic 2) as you try collecting as many colored orbs as possible before Sonic makes it to the finish. Colors utilizes the stylus in these stages which is a blast aside from the occasional stylus-to-screen lag. The biggest problem I have with the Chaos Emerald stages is that they are way too easy. In most other Sonic games, it would be unlikely to complete your first run of the game with all seven chaos emeralds, but Colors is an unfortunate exception as it is rather unlikely that you won't be snatching the emeralds before the end.

The main game itself is incredibly easy and can actually be completed in literally, one sitting. I would mark it down for this grueling flaw except that Colors offers so much replay value you'll be spending hours and hours trying to get S ranks on every level, finding secrets in each level with the new powers you obtain, collecting all of the star emblems, and finding all of the hidden unlockables. Not to mention just trying to complete a few of the games many side missions will have you shaking your DS violently for hours. I suppose it's a better idea to have these time attacks, enemy & Whisp hunts, and ring collecting missions not mandatory. They're challenging; which is nice but I just wonder to myself why the actually game is humiliatingly easy while the missions create sudden difficulty spikes.

The one thing I hate about every Sonic game is the hedgehog's voice. It's just too damn annoying. I thought I had all I could take with his whiny, high pitched voice in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. When I booted the game up and prepared myself for the opening dialogue, I prepared for the worst. I was shocked to find out that I wasn't annoyed at all with his voice. Sega actually found a guy (Roger Craig Smith) who could provide a voice to Sonic I can actually listen to. In fact, all of the voice actors do a pretty good job and that's a definite plus in my book.

The music itself is corny. I'm not too fond of the opening track or much of the music but there were a few tunes that seemed melodiously out of place which had me tapping my foot. The sound effects are the best part, though. The booming blasts, the crackling fires, and the awesome "Burn!" or "Rocket!" screams Sonic makes before transforming are, dare I say, cool.

The graphics are gorgeous, vibrant, and colorful. The backgrounds are beautiful as are their animations. Everything seems to jump off the screen. The replacement of sprites with 3D character models are a pleasant surprise. It works very well. The biggest problem with the visuals is the use of the duel screen gameplay. Both screens are used to play; with Sonic switching between both during certain areas of each level. Sometimes, my eyes follow Sonic like magic and swiftly switch between screens (which feels awesome) but other times my eyes stay on one screen while Sonic speeds far into the other. It's a small annoyance that can cost you all of your collected rings.

Sonic Colors offers gamers a Sonic experience like no other. The new gameplay offers so much that it will make you wish the actual game was more than five hours long. Colors not only gives Sonic fans the okay to wear their Sonic shirts and backpacks with pride again, but it also reminds gamers everywhere how great Sonic was and potentially can be.

Graphics: 2/2

Sound: 1/2

Controls: 5/5

Lasting Appeal: 2/3

Fun: 5/5


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