Sonic the Hedgehog is without question one of the most iconic video game characters of all time, but that hasn’t stopped him from struggling in the 3D game world over the years at times. That doesn’t mean that there haven’t been some great games along the way like Sonic Adventure and Sonic Generations, but one of the least talked about outside of the Sonic fanbase has been the exclusive Sonic Colors that did quite well near the end of the Wii’s life back in 2010. Now more than a decade after the game released, Sega has brought it back as Sonic Colors: Ultimate and we got a chance to try the game out in a recent hands-on preview.
Sonic Colors: Ultimate is an HD remaster of the original game and that could definitely be seen right from the start. The game was already colorful in the first place, but the vibrancy really pops this time around across levels within the worlds of Tropical Resort, Sweet Mountain, and Starlight Carnival. Most of our time was spent with Tropical Resort before unlocking the latter two, but this was seen even more in the Starlight Carnival level that looks absolutely gorgeous in action. Running through the beautifully designed levels is even more of a treat in this game, as they really did a fantastic job with making the visuals feel much more modern in the game’s first HD outing. The only real blemish here were in some of the cutscenes that did look a bit dated in parts, but they still looked decent enough and it’s the levels themselves that really matter.
Finding just the right physics in a 3D Sonic game is very important to development and thankfully Sonic Colors still controls very well like when it first released. Trying to precisely get Sonic to grab every single ring when moving in a 3D plane at fast speeds is always going to be difficult, but Sonic games are pretty much designed for you to not get all the rings anyways. The movement with Sonic still felt very natural here, with the only questionable moments coming when climbing up platforms that required more precise platforming. However, that may have been more of a streaming lag issue with the preview than in the game itself.
Sonic Colors: Ultimate is very much the same game as it was before when it comes to gameplay overall, but some changes were made that are welcome. One of those is a new element when it comes to Sonic’s Homing Attack, which you are introduced to very early in Tropical Resort. Rather than just spamming the button to attack each enemy once in the air, there is a special spot you can time just right and hit to give Sonic extra boost energy. This is something you can just avoid and attack as before if you want, while those that want that extra boost can really work for it against different enemies.
Beyond the typical Sonic gameplay, the signature abilities in Sonic Colors are tied to what are known as Wisps. There are different types of Wisps that you will come across in the game, which each give Sonic a new ability he can use to traverse the stages, often reaching areas that would not have been accessible otherwise. One new Wisp in the game is the Jade Wisp, which allows Sonic to turn into a ghost and phase through walls. We did come across this Wisp, but didn’t really get a chance to use it before replacing it with another Wisp unfortunately. The Wisps are still a lot of fun to use, though we didn’t really get to use them to their full extent in our limited playthrough.
One major change from the original game is the removal of lives, instead putting you back at the beginning of a stage or save point if you die. In addition, we experienced what are known as Tails Saves. These are little tokens you’ll find within levels that you can collect, which will have Tails save you when you fall off a stage for every token you have. In our playtime with the game, we came across one of these Tails Saves tokens and ended up falling at one point and was brought right back where we fell off, which was very helpful. Some may argue that this will just make the game too easy or something, but you can just avoid picking up the tokens if you do not want to utilize them.
Another new feature in Sonic Colors: Ultimate is the ability to customize Sonic to your liking. This includes his outfit and everything, where we were shown costumes honoring other classic Sega series like Jet Set Radio and more in footage. While this may just be a superficial thing to add to the game, it’s a cool addition that adds some replayability to the game.
While we only got a glimpse of what to expect from Sonic Colors: Ultimate in our preview, it’s looking like its shaping up to be a very quality HD remaster of what was already a very enjoyable game. No longer being exclusive to one platform, even more people will get an opportunity to check this one out when it launches next month.
Sonic Colors: Ultimate will release on September 7 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC.