The last time an all-new Sonic platforming title released on the Nintendo DS was in 2007, and the game was Sonic Rush Adventure. Both Sonic Rush (released in 2005) and Sonic Rush Adventure were solid Sonic titles that, I believe, don’t get enough love from gamers. It’s been over three years now, but we have the next original Sonic platformer for Nintendo DS and it shares the same name as its Wii counterpart. However, same name doesn’t equal same game. Developed by same team who worked on the Rush titles, Dimps take the concept presented in Sonic Colors and make it their own.
The story of Sonic Colors takes place on “Dr. Eggman’s Interstellar Amusement Park.” This is where Dr. Eggman tries to disguise his evil plot by building a gorgeous theme park in outer space. Sonic and Tails don’t buy it at all, and decide that it is way too suspicious for Dr. Eggman to do such a thing. It turns out they were right. At his park, Dr. Eggman has been capturing alien creatures known as Wisps, and plans to harness their powers for his own gain. The story is presented by cutscenes, but the majority of it is told through motionless faces accompanied by text. It really doesn’t need to be read to enjoy the game any more or less, but it is nice to see so much invested into the story for a portable platformer. Although, some of it may be worthwhile, because there are a lot of familiar faces that make an appearance in this game. Some of your favorites that you haven’t seen in years just may pop up.
Sonic Colors plays very similarly to the Rush titles in terms of gameplay. There are a few tweaks, but not enough to make much of a difference between the two. You control Sonic, run really fast and don’t stop very often. The pace of the game is fairly constant, and you will find yourself with good challenge. Enemies and pitfalls are sprinkled throughout stages, but with the right timing and know-how, you can breeze through them all. There will be times where you will mess up, but frustration is kept low because failure isn’t due to confusing controls or questionable physics. Boss battles are a bit more tedious than the stages, but I guess that is why they are saved for last, right? In Sonic Colors, success only comes when you execute the right moves, at the right time, and the sense of accomplishment afterward is satisfying.
It is established that the gameplay in Sonic Colors is great; but added on top of that are the power-ups the Wisps offer. This is where Dimps has to take the Wisp concept and make it work for their game. The Wisp power-ups assist you along the way to complete stages. Different color Wisps offer different power-ups, and they are a blast to use. One example of a power up are the Yellow Wisps that offer the ability to dig through floors or cut through water. Some portions require that you to use the power-up to progress, but other times it’s just to dominate through the stage. It’s really fun and feels great. The key factor that makes the power-up thing work is how well they are implemented. They don’t feel forced on to the overall design of the game, but rather, they feel very well-thought out. The game also include touch-screen bonus stages that are reached when completing stages with at least 50 rings collected throughout. The type of bonus stages presented in Sonic Colors are very similar to the ones included in Sonic Rush, and that’s actually a very good thing. The bonus stages challenge you to collect a certain amount of spheres for three rounds. They are pretty easy to complete, but are still totally worth getting to because you’re going to look forward to playing them all.
The music in Sonic Colors does tend to lean more toward the good side, but is nothing to ride home about. Graphically, the game looks fine, but recycles entirely too much from stuff used since Sonic Rush. Characters, enemies and power-ups look exactly the same, and you would think that for five years now they would have upgraded something. Two-player support is included in the game, and it can be down either locally or over Nintendo WiFi Connection. Players can enjoy both objective based games, or just face-off to see who can complete a stage faster. This is not exactly something that would make or break the game, but it’s nice to see the option for multiplayer is at least there.
Overall, Sonic Colors is a great package with tons of replay value. Completing the game isn’t too difficult, but perfecting it will be. There are tons of side stages, collectibles and things to discover outside of beating the game. I would love to see these guys do a console game, because they have shown the ability to make great use of the little they have to work with. This is definitely the place to find Sonic at his finest.