Sonic Colours Review (DS)

Something to light up the dreary winter.

Sonic Colours Review DS
22nd December, 2010 By Ian Morris
Game Info // Sonic Colours
Sonic Colours Boxart
Publisher: SEGA
Developer: Sonic Team
Players: 1
Online Multiplayer: 1 - 2
Subtitles: Full
Available On: DS
Genre: Platform (2D)

OK, so we lied a little bit in the strap - at the time of writing, the winter's actually looking anything but dreary, with the sun having finally come out, making the fourteen feet of snow we're under (only a slight exaggeration) look a lot more welcoming than it has done for the past few days. But with Christmas fast approaching, and there being very little better to do, we've had an excuse to snuggle down with the latest Sonic game, safe and warm, while we watch cars pirouette on the road outside. Sometimes, we love our job.

Sonic Colours Screenshot

Rings are a hedgehog's best friend - they'll give you a second chance when you get hit, and help to boost your score.

Sonic Colours on the DS shares more than just a name with its Wii brethren. Having the same music, storyline, and even some gameplay ideas as its bigger brother, you could be forgiven for thinking that one is a carbon copy of the other - but that actually couldn't be further from the truth. Although they're certainly similar in concept, Sonic Colours on the DS is a completely different game, with entirely unique levels, boss fights, and bonus stages - meaning, if you just can't get enough of the speedy blue blur, it's perfectly fine to buy both versions, without worrying about getting the same thing twice.

As opposed to many other platforming games, Sonic Colours is all about speed. Zipping through the levels, as you glide around loop-the-loops, skid along grinding rails, and bounce from enemy to enemy, each level is a maze of different routes, with the higher paths beingĀ  simultaneously the ones you want to aim for (as they often contain the most rings and other goodies), and also the hardest to reach, simply because it's hard to stay high without missing a jump, and plummeting down into the underbelly of the level. With six different worlds on offer, the levels are all themed to suit, so while one second you'll be drilling through the rock on a jungle planet, the next you'll be bouncing off a giant jelly in a cake themed world, as you try to reach a higher platform, before inevitably missing, and falling a few feet, before settling for the lower levels, where the gaming plebians, and ourselves, spend most of our time.

And it's this layered approach that gives Sonic Colours one of its greatest strengths - replay value. Finding the best route through each level, zig-zagging between platforms, and the top and bottom screens is a challenge in itself - yet alone managing to reach the end of the level without coming a cropper against one of Sonic's eternal nemesis, Dr. Robotnik's creations. And, with five hidden, er, red circular things to find in each level, there's plenty of reason to come back and explore - not just to improve your grade on the level.

But if anything, Sonic Colour's greatest problem is also that which is it focuses on the most - the speed. If you've played any of the other Sonic games on the DS, you'll quickly notice that this feels a lot faster - and it is. Disappointingly, it's also more populated by enemies than the other games, and the two factors combined often lead to you coming a cropper simply because you couldn't see the next enemy coming, and weren't quick enough to react - which often isn't due to any fault of your own.

Sonic Colours Screenshot

Our nemesis, the flaming Sonic Wisp.

Thankfully, the game does try its best to break you in gently, with plenty of tutorials explaining what everything does, although, in the heat of the action, the controls can get a bit confusing, with boosting, and a Wisp power joining jump on the DS's four main buttons.

The Wisp powers are something new for Sonic Colours, but unfortunately, while they grant you all sorts of new powers, they never really feel like anything more than a quick addition. Letting you either dig through soft ground, fly into the air like a rocket, or even turn into a ball of flame, amongst others, the Wisps add a whole host of new moves to Sonic's arsenal, and also make exploring the levels to find all the secrets a lot more complex. Part of the problem is that you can't call on a Wisp's power whenever you want - instead, they work a bit like powerups, where you have to find them in order to use them. Even this would be OK if they were a bit more forgiving, and you could stockpile them as you go through the level, but it's only possible to store one Wisp at a time - and when you use it, it's gone, as most Wisps don't respawn. All this means is your exploring can be brought to its knees by a poorly used Wisp - and some of them are awkward enough to use in themselves. The red Wisp, for example, which turns Sonic into a ball of fire, also manages to make Sonic almost impossible to control. Each level has certain things that can only be used with a Wisp of the right type - for example, the red Wisps are often used to power hot air balloons - but actually getting into the balloon turns out to be a lot harder than it sounds. Press A next to the balloon, and Sonic will explode - hold it for a fraction of a second too long, and he'll turn the balloon to a pile of ash too. It's all very awkward.

Sonic Colours Screenshot

Sonic - faster than Jesus.

In a way, though, the Wisps being a side-attraction is actually a good thing, as had the game focused on them too much in their current state, they'd have brought the game to its knees. As it stands, they're merely a minor annoyance, in what's otherwise an enjoyable platformer.

With five worlds to explore, there's a fair amount to see and do, although it does feel a little bit on the short side. With six worlds to conquer, and two levels in each, plus a boss fight, you can finish the game in a few sittings - although you certainly won't have seen all it has to offer. To try and lengthen things a little bit, each world also has two or three "missions" you can attempt, which set you tasks such as collecting a number of Wisps, or completing a level in a certain length of time, but they're mostly variations on themes of levels you've already played. That, and they're incredibly hard, requiring absolutely pixel perfect runs through each section in order to complete them.

At the end of the day, Sonic Colours is good, but it's not quite great. With such a short main game to play through, Sonic Colours could really have used a more robust collection of "missions" to keep you going, or, even better, an extra level per world. Don't get us wrong, it's certainly a fun game, albeit with a few niggles here and there - but you're left with the feeling there's just not enough of it. As it starts to come down in price, however, the brevity will be less of an issue, and then this will be well worth a look - but if it had reeled in its speed that little bit more, it'd come much more highly recommended.

Format Reviewed: Nintendo DS

StarStarStarHalf starEmpty star
Not as good as those which came before it, but fun nonetheless.
  • +
    Hugely varied levels, with loads of routes through them.
  • +
    Plenty of collectibles to find.
  • +
    Chaos! (even if they do only appear in the odd conversation)
  • -
    Too speed obsessed, which makes the game hard to play.
  • -
    Wisps seem too tacked on.
  • -
    Too short.
Disclaimer/disclosure: Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product. Links to Amazon are affiliate links, and we will receive a small fee should you choose to complete the purchase using these links. This doesn't affect the price you pay for your product.
Outcyders Logo

© 2010 - 2024 Outcyders

Follow Us: