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‘Sonic Colors: Ultimate’ is a Colorful Bunch of Mixed Emotions

Image from Fandom Games
Image from Fandom Games

Disclaimer: The review was conducted on an Xbox Series X

Let's be honest with ourselves, Sonic has had a rough history when it comes to his games. It seems like each falls under one of three categories: the player breezes through the title with glee, trips and stumbles halfway to the finish line, or face-plants right as the race starts. Now the original Sonic Colors was one of the successful ones. It’s one of the best Sonic games in the history of the franchise, standing tall with games like Sonic Generations and Sonic Mania, and it just so happens that Sonic Colors is my personal favorite Sonic game. So, when Sega announced a new and improved version of my all-time favorite Sonic game, you know I had to get my hands on a copy. What I found was a mix of nostalgia, genuinely good design and improvements, and a pile of painstaking garbage, all bundled together in a somewhat neat $40 package.

An artistic beauty

Image from Fandom Games

Let us talk about the art and music, which I know is a weird place to start, but it will be important later. After booting up this game for the first time, I was in awe. The remixed music and updated visuals of the title sequence are absolutely stunning. Nothing has brought me more joy than hearing that nostalgic opening remixed to be better than before, but if you are not a fan of remixes, rest assured most of the soundtrack are enhanced versions of the original songs, now with much better sound quality for a new generation of video game consoles. There are actually only a few songs that were fully remixed, and they were all the best possible choices. "Reach for the Stars" and "Speak with Your Heart" are done so beautifully in this game that I could cry, and it does not help that they are the opening and closing songs respectively. Honestly, I could go on and on gushing about this, but I have other things to talk about, like the mixed visuals.

So like I said, the visuals, they are a mixed bunch. On one hand, the normal gameplay and some cutscenes look outstanding, nothing less than what I expect from the new consoles. But on the other hand, most cutscenes look exactly like how they did on the Wii. Is that good? Is that bad? Is it charming? Is it unacceptable? I am not entirely sure. To me at least, the worst it feels is off-putting. It is weird to see updated graphics and then one minute later old Wii graphics. But you get used to it after a while, and sometimes it goes unnoticed. Thanks to the amazing witty writing of this game, I was more invested with the story than the graphics, but it is worth noting. Finally, while it might be just a minor nitpick, there were times where the music and visuals got a little buggy. For example, when grabbing the Spike Whisp power-up, absolutely no music plays, which is very different from every other Whisp because each one has its own distinct jingle. 

Mediocre Gameplay

Alright, let's finally start talking about the gameplay. And I have to say, it is not that bad. There were not nearly as many glitches as I thought there were going to be. Granted, I was playing on the Xbox version, while the Nintendo Switch edition is supposedly much worse, what I experienced was the same tight controls I loved from the original. Sonic feels very responsive, and any glitches I experienced were very minor and sometimes even enhanced the gameplay experience. Seeing Sonic vibrate uncontrollably while clipped inside a wall for a few seconds brought me to tears. Be that as it may, there are countless times where Sonic decided to completely miss a ledge or platform because he wanted to hit his trademarked "gotta go fast" speed and because of the game's janky midair physics, sent Sonic plummeting to his doom just like the original.

Image from Fandom Games

In terms of a remake, these flaws remain true to the source material, and I would overlook them 100% if it were not for one simple mistake that makes the game more infuriating than easy or enjoyable. It is the removal of the life system, and this mistake changes not only how I look at this game but also its characters. The addition of the Tails save system is so maddening it makes my blood boil. On paper, Tails saves you before you fall to your death off a cliff, then you continue the level. What ends up happening in practice is that you fall to your death, and Tails does not show up in time to offer a helping hand. This starts a continuous cycle of falling, restarting at your last checkpoint, then failing the jump again.

Even in the moments where Tails does his job it is frustrating. Have you ever made a mistake and then some guy comes up to you and says, “Hey you’re doing this wrong”? That’s Tails. Every time you miss a jump, he has to say some stupid quip about how you should be more careful every single time. It makes me want to bash my own skull in. You no longer think about how you can improve or fix the issue or how you can learn from your mistakes, you just think to yourself, “Thanks Captain Obvious,” and move on. Falling to my death, rocketing helplessly into space, being told how to ground pound for the millionth time or even not being told at all how to avoid a miniboss’s attack is infuriating, but all of those things combined pales in comparison to Tails gambling with my life and then making a smart comment about it.

Sources: Screen Rant

Images: Fandom Games

Featured Image: Fandom Games