Sonic Colors Ultimate is flashy but fun | Hands-on preview

by on August 2, 2021

Let’s be honest, you’re either reading Sonic Colors Ultimate preview to be proved right, or because you’re a fan. Over the years, people seem to have started to take gleeful delight in hating on the blue blur. But let me tell you, when I was growing up: Sonic was good. There was a purple patch at the start up to about Sonic 3 and then, okay, things got rough.

But long before Sonic Generations came along, there was a glimmer of hope. Before Sonic Mania, before the movie, there was Sonic Colors. It was 2010, and now, a decade later, it’s back. And let me tell you: 30 minutes of play was enough to make me forget Sonic Forces existed.

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Sonic Colors Ultimate was always a decent game

A commercial success, Sonic Colors was the calm before the storm. Playing it in 2021, with upscaled visuals, better performance, and all the things you’d expect was… well it was refreshing. A remaster of the Wii version, it looks great and runs well. I played through the first world via a digital preview event, and it was a nice time.

Sonic Colors Ultimate was always a decent game

“You’re hardly selling me on this, mate”, I’m sure you’re thinking. But what do you want from a Sonic game in 2021? Sonic Mania proved there was life in the older style. But Sonic Colors Ultimate feels like one of those games you can switch off and just enjoy. It’s fast paced, sure, but it’s also never hugely punishing.

Tropical Resort and the Wisps

There’s a mix of side scrolling and behind-the-back action. Truthfully, it’s unlikely Sonic Colors Ultimate will change your mind if you hate 3D games. It’s ridiculously fast until you make a mistake. But then it seems just too slow. Mechanically there’s plenty to do, and you will feel pretty cool springing through the air, chaining attack together. But sometimes you will do things without even knowing.

Tropical Resort and the Wisps

Early on in Tropical Resort, you meet the aliens, or Wisps. There’s plenty of dialogue with Tails, Sonic and co, and yes, it’s still cringey and “cool”. The wisps are being used by Robotnik to gain power, but they can give you power as you collect them in the levels. For example, you can turn into a laser beam and blitz through levels if you collect the right wisp.

Gotta go fast. No, seriously!

At first, everything is so fast you might even miss this like I did. There are lots of things you can do once you get the right Wisp. But I noticed the blue diamonds in levels, but not what they do. Once you hold the right bumper down you can aim Sonic at them, and he will “pinball” or ricochet off and through them to the end of your destination.

Gotta go fast. No, seriously!

Once you understand what’s going on, and can cope with the speed, it’s seriously fun. I’ve never been a huge lover of the 3D Sonic games. Maybe that’s why Generations and Mania resonated with me so much. But Sonic Colors feels like it’s going to scratch an itch I didn’t even know existed.

Sonic Colors Ultimate preview

So again I ask you: what do you want from a Sonic game in 2021? I don’t want just “more Mania”, nor do I want a new 3D Sonic game. But Colors is something I missed back when it came out. Playing a slice of this has made me understand why it was so well received. It certainly doesn’t look or feel ten years old, either. Being in a space-based amusement park means it’s a colourful affair. Everything pops off the screen, even when playing a remote demo of the title.

It’s different, but the same. Yes it has all the trappings of the things you hate. The “cool” voice acting and jokes that don’t land are completely present. But the gameplay is fast paced and exciting. And honestly, I can’t think of anything Sonic Colors feels like in the modern era. Sometimes, as they say, you need to just play something to get it. And now, well, I get it, and I’ll be getting it when it comes out on September 7 for PC, Switch, Xbox, and PlayStation.

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