Sonic Colors: Ultimate review for PS4, Xbox One, Switch

Platform: PS4
Also On: Xbox One/Series X, Switch
Publisher: Sega
Developer: Blind Squirrel Games
Medium: Digital/Disc/Cart
Players: 1-2
Online: No

Sonic the Hedgehog games have had quite a hard time jumping to 3D. With the Sonic Adventure series on the Dreamcast and GameCube setting a standard on how Sonic should be handled, many other games for multiple platforms tried and failed to capture the feeling from those titles. That was until a little game called Sonic Colors surfaced. Colors was a perfect blend of 2D and 3D action, while adding new gameplay elements that didn’t get in the way of the overall experience. Sonic Colors’ main problem is that it was released exclusively on the Nintendo Wii, and many fans turned their back on Sonic games being released on that platform. Those who gave it a try were pleasantly surprised, while others finally discovered this gem years after the console was discontinued.

Now, Sonic Colors is back, and this time it’s been upgraded with all new visuals, a completely new soundtrack and upgraded control options. Plus it’s being released on more platforms so more gamers can play the one of the best 3D Sonic Games to come out since Sonic Adventure!

For those who haven’t played Sonic Colors before, the story revolves around a planet sized amusement park built by Dr. Eggman seemingly as an apology for his past transgressions. Sonic and Tails race there to check it out, convinced that Eggman is up to no good. Once they arrive they discover that Eggman is capturing small aliens from the planet called “Wisps” to power his machines. The Wisps ask for Sonic to help them and offer their powers to aid him in the battle.

The game consists of mostly 3D stages where you are speeding towards the goal of each area, collection rings and power-ups along the way. In some areas, the game switches to 2D style for some classic platforming. These areas are a bit slower than the 3D sections, but still provide some intense action and are the main areas where you can use Sonic’s new Wisp Powers. As you rescue Wisps, their powers can be used in various ways to progress through the level, take out enemies or find hidden paths and secrets. The Wisp Powers you will encounter the most include the Cyan Laser that turns Sonic into a beam of light that can bounce off of solid objects and travel through power lines. The Yellow Drill lets Sonic drill through soft ground, Orange Rocket lets him Blast off super high, and The Pink Spike allows him to stick to walls and destroy stronger objects. Other Wisps you will encounter are The Blue Cube, that lets Sonic turn certain blue bricks into Rings (and vice verse), and the Purple Frenzy that destroys anything in his path. One Completely new Wisp Power that has been added for Ultimate is the Jade Ghost. This Wisp allows Sonic to float in the air and pass through solid objects, allowing him to access previously unreachable areas.

Sonic Colors: Ultimate not only adds new powers, but new modes and new customization options you can unlock as you play. We now have a VS Metal Sonic Mode, where Sonic and Metal Sonic compete in races across various levels. It’s reminiscent of the PSP Game “Sonic Rivals” but now it’s in 3D and much more challenging. The customization options are completely cosmetic and can be unlocked as you collect “Park Tokens” found throughout the game. They range from different color gloves and Shoes for Sonic and Player Badge Icons for the VS Mode leaderboards. All of these additions really make this version feel more like a brand new game instead of a remake.

The original Sonic Colors had pretty decent visuals, but was locked at 30 frames per second. In Ultimate, everything has been overhauled, with all of the graphics redrawn and upscaled to 4K (on systems that support it), with way more animation and lighting effects than before. The frame rate has also been bumped up to 60 FPS for an even faster sense of speed. Sadly, the frame rate has not increased on the Nintendo Switch version, but it still retains the new visuals. The Music from the original has also been remastered with some new tracks added for even more audio goodness. Paul Makhlouf and the band “Cash Cash” did an amazing job with the soundtrack as it totally fits with everything in the game. Controls are another big change with Sonic Colors: Ultimate. With the original only being on the Wii, you were limited with control options, but now you have a wide variety of ways you can customize your controls to fit your play style. It’s a welcome addition that just wasn’t possible in the original.

Sonic Colors: Ultimate is exactly what it claims to be, an Ultimate version of an already decent Sonic title. Many gamers dismissed it the first time, but if you are a Sonic fan, you owe it to yourself to check this one out. Blind Squirrel Games did an excellent job, changing what needed to be changed and leaving what worked originally intact. Super fun, challenging, and reasonably priced (even for the deluxe edition), this is a perfect title to celebrate Sonic The Hedgehog’s 30th anniversary.

Note: SEGA provided us with a Sonic Colors: Ultimate PS4 code for review purposes.

Grade: A