Nintendo DS cover art
|Developer(s)||Sonic Team (Wii)
Dimps (Nintendo DS)
|Director(s)||Morio Kishimoto (Wii)
Takao Hirabayashi (DS)
|Designer(s)||Morio Kishimoto (Wii)
Yuka Kobayashi (DS)
|Programmer(s)||Yoshitaka Kawabata (Wii)
Takashi Yamatani (DS)
|Series||Sonic the Hedgehog|
|Platform(s)||Wii, Nintendo DS|
Sonic Colors[a] is a 2010 platform video game published by Sega. An installment in the Sonic the Hedgehog series, the story follows Sonic's quest to stop his nemesis Doctor Eggman from enslaving an alien race and taking over the world. The gameplay is similar to prior entries in the series, with players collecting rings and defeating enemies. During gameplay, the camera perspective switches from third-person to side-scrolling perspectives. The game also introduces power-ups called Wisps, which the player can use to increase attack power and reach places they cannot otherwise.
Development of Sonic Colors began in 2008, following the completion of Sonic Unleashed. Examining criticisms of past games, the developers made Sonic the only playable character and worked to create an equal balance between speed and platforming; the Wisps were introduced to diversify the gameplay without slowing it down. Two versions of the game were developed: one for the Wii by Sonic Team, and one for the Nintendo DS by Dimps. The game was designed for a wider demographic than previous games, specifically children and fans of the Super Mario series. In anticipation of the title's release, Sega delisted several Sonic titles with sub-average Metacritic scores to increase the value of the brand.
Upon release, Sonic Colors received positive reviews. Critics recommended the title for its graphics, audio, gameplay, replay value, and considered it to be an improvement over previous installments. However, some voiced criticism of its high difficulty level and a weak multiplayer mode. The title would go on to be a commercial success, selling over two million copies. The Wisp power-ups introduced in Sonic Colors would go on to become a staple of the Sonic series, and have featured in various games across the franchise.
Premise and setting
Sonic Colors is a platform game set in outer space. Players control Sonic the Hedgehog, whose goal is to save the Wisps, an alien race that has been enslaved by Doctor Eggman. The game's main hub is Doctor Eggman's Incredible Interstellar Amusement Park, an interplanetary amusement park that consists of six small planets chained to each other. Sonic must be guided through these planets to destroy the power source at their center.
Each planet is split into seven parts: six main levels called acts and a boss level. In each act, players must guide Sonic to the goal, whilst defeating enemies and dodging obstacles. In boss levels, players face one of Eggman's large robots, and must defeat it. Gameplay seamlessly shifts between side-scrolling and third-person perspectives. Upon completion of a level, players are given a grade dependent on their performance, with an "S" being the best and a "D" being the worst. As the player progresses through the game, more planets become available to select. Once each planet has been completed, a bonus seventh, which concludes the story, is unlocked.
Players control Sonic using the Wii Remote (with or without the Nunchuck), the Classic Controller, or the Nintendo GameCube Controller. Sonic retains most of his abilities from Sonic Unleashed (2008): he can perform a "Sonic Boost" which greatly increases his speed and allows him to smash through various objects; a homing attack that allows him to destroy enemies from long distances; and a stomp that enables him to quickly destroy objects below him. In certain levels, players are sent at high speeds and must perform a quick step maneuver to dodge walls and other hazards; others see Sonic using a drift mechanic in order to make sharp turns. Sonic is also given a double-jump ability, which allows him to perform an additional jump in mid-air.
Power-ups and lives
A major aspect of Sonic Colors is the ability to activate Wisp power-ups. There are eight different types of Wisps, each with their own unique advantage dependent on their color. Normal white-colored Wisps allow the player to get a speed boost at any time. The "Cyan Laser" turns Sonic into a laser that can bounce off solid surfaces to change the laser's path and to travel through power lines, while the "Yellow Drill" allows Sonic to drill through soft ground and water. The "Orange Rocket" allows Sonic to blast upward to tremendous heights; the "Pink Spikes" allows Sonic to bond to walls and ceilings and to perform a spin dash to gain velocity and to destroy objects; the "Green Hover" enables Sonic to hover and to perform dashes across lines of rings; the "Blue Cube" gives Sonic the ability to turn blue blocks into blue rings and vice versa; and the "Purple Frenzy", which turns Sonic into a berserker that chomps through anything in its path, increasing in size as it continues to eat.
Like previous games, Sonic collects golden rings, which protect him from a single hit by an enemy or obstacle, though they will scatter and blink before disappearing. Sonic starts the game with a limited number of lives; if he is hit with no rings in his possession, he will lose a life. If a player exhausts their lives, they will receive a game over.
Sonic Colors features a co-operative two-player mode titled Eggman's Sonic Simulator. In this mode, players control Sonic-modeled robots or their Mii characters through a series of levels. These levels can be unlocked by collecting special Red Star Rings hidden throughout each act. Completing Sonic Simulator levels rewards the player Chaos Emeralds, and once all seven are collected, Sonic can transform into Super Sonic after collecting 50 rings in normal levels. As Super Sonic, players are invincible and can boost infinitely, though they cannot use Wisps and lose one ring per second, de-transforming when the ring counter hits zero. The game also features online leaderboards, allowing players to upload their scores via Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection.
An alternate version of Sonic Colors was developed by Dimps and published by Sega for the Nintendo DS. Unlike the Wii version, the DS version uses the same engine used in Sonic Rush (2005) and its sequel, and is a side-scroller that takes advantage of the system's dual-screen. Exclusive to the DS version are touchscreen-controlled special stages similar to the ones seen in Rush, missions featuring various characters from throughout the franchise, a competitive multiplayer mode, and an extra final boss. The game features two additional Wisp types: "Red Burst", which which allows Sonic to burst in midair and can activate certain objects such as a hot air balloon, Ferris wheel, and popcorn cannons; and "Violet Void", which gives Sonic the ability to float and to suck up nearby objects, growing bigger in the process. Unlockable concept art is also included.
Doctor Eggman opens an amusement park in space called Dr. Eggman's Incredible Interstellar Amusement Park, allegedly turning over a new leaf and making up for past transgressions. The park is made up of several planet-sized attractions. Suspicious, Sonic the Hedgehog and his best friend Tails investigate. They meet Yacker, who comes from a species of aliens known as Wisps. After Tails invents a translator to communicate with him, they learn that other Wisps have been enslaved by Eggman, who plans to harness their energy for a mind-control laser that will allow him to take over Earth.
Sonic proceeds to visit the planets, liberating the Wisps and shutting down the generators linked to the amusement park. He meets many of his friends along the way, including Cream, Knuckles, Shadow, Amy, and the Chaotix.[b] After Sonic frees the Wisps, Eggman tries to fire the cannon at the world, but a piece of wreckage causes it to malfunction. As the amusement park begins to explode, Sonic confronts Eggman. Eggman uses the Nega-Wisps to power his final contraption, a robot that uses the powers of all the Wisps that Sonic has met against him. As the machine gets weaker, the Wisps escape and help Sonic defeat Eggman, sending him hurtling helplessly off into space. The Wisps carry Sonic out of the exploding amusement park. Returning safely to Earth, Yacker thanks Sonic and Tails.
However, Sonic and Tails soon learn that the leading Mother Wisp had been infected by the negative energy and transformed into the Nega-Mother Wisp. Using the power of the Chaos Emeralds, Sonic transforms into Super Sonic and fights her. Following her defeat, the Mother Wisp returns to normal and the Wisps part ways with the two heroes.[b]
The development of Sonic Colors began in 2008, following the completion of Sonic Unleashed. While they kept most of Unleashed's core gameplay elements, Sonic Team decided to create an equal balance between speed and platforming similar to that of the games released for the Sega Genesis, in comparison to the straightforward gameplay of Unleashed. Following requests by fans, the team also made the decision to make Sonic the only playable character, and to omit "gimmick" themes such as the swordplay mechanic used in Sonic and the Black Knight (2009).
The team chose to develop Sonic Colors on Nintendo's Wii and DS consoles, hoping to expand upon the audience attracted by the successful Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games crossover games. One of the first ideas was the decision that the setting should be an amusement park; Sonic Team then realized that "any sort of terrestrial amusement park would be too small to contain Sonic's adventures." From this came the idea of an interplanetary park, which would allow for more creativity and variance in the game. Sonic Team also desired something that would diversify the gameplay, but did not slow it down. Thus, the Wisps were added to the game to expand and strengthen the gameplay without forcing the player to switch to other playable characters. Another goal was to encourage players to revisit already-played levels; Sonic Team accomplished this by adding segments requiring certain types of Wisps to levels preceding their first appearances.
The game also makes use of the PhysX physics engine, previously used with Sonic and the Secret Rings (2007). According to producer Takashi Iizuka, Sonic Colors was designed to appeal to a casual audience, particularly children and fans of the Super Mario series. Iizuka's statement that it was impossible to please all Sonic fans initially alienated those who had enjoyed prior entries such as Unleashed and Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I (2010), though Sega brand manager Judy Gilbertson later clarified that "we’re also looking to create a game that is accessible to younger gamers as well as our ‘core’ fans." The script was written by MadWorld and Happy Tree Friends contributors Ken Pontac and Warren Graff. Sonic Colors is also one of the first games in the series not to use the English voice cast from the Sonic X anime series following a major re-casting of the franchise in 2010, with Roger Craig Smith assuming the role of Sonic.
Sega first announced Sonic Colors in a blog post on May 26, 2010. Demo versions of the game were playable at the Electronic Entertainment Expo 2010, Gamescom, the Penny Arcade Expo, and the Tokyo Game Show. On November 4, 2010, Sega held a Sonic Colors-themed ice-skating event at Bryant Park in New York City. BradyGames also published an official strategy guide, which launched alongside the game. In anticipation of the game's release, Sega delisted multiple Sonic titles with sub-average Metacritic scores to increase the value of the brand. Sonic Colors was first released in PAL regions on November 11, 2010, followed by a North American release on November 16, 2010 and in Japan on November 18, 2010. People who pre-ordered the Japanese version of the game received a special card compatible with the arcade game Rekishi Taisen Gettenka, allowing Sonic to appear in the game. Those who who pre-ordered the game through GameStop in North America received a Sonic shaped hat. A special edition was also sold in Europe, featuring figurines of Sonic and the Wisps.
The music of Sonic Colors was composed by Kenichi Tokoi, Tomoya Ohtani, Fumie Kumatani, Hideaki Kobayashi, Mariko Nanba, and Naofumi Hataya, and was written to be more energetic than previous entries' scores. Jean Paul Makhlouf from the American band Cash Cash performed the game's opening song, "Reach For The Stars", and his brother Alex joined him in singing the ending song, "Speak With Your Heart". A three-CD soundtrack, titled Sonic Colors Original Soundtrack: Vivid Sounds × Hybrid Colors, featuring music from the game was released on CD in Japan on December 22, 2010, with a digital version released via iTunes in January 2011.
Both versions of Sonic Colors received "generally favorable" reception, according to review aggregator Metacritic. The game was also successful commercially; as of March 2011, it has sold 2.18 million copies.
The game's presentation was well received. Pedro Hernandez of Nintendo World Report described the graphics and animations as "beautiful" and "gorgeous". Arthur Gies of IGN considered them to be among the best available on the Wii, praising the lighting, detail, and variety they offered. Both Hernandez and Jane Douglas of GameSpot both praised the audio for incorporating familiar aspects of past Sonic titles, and Douglas admired the "jazzy, high-energy" soundtrack as fitting for all levels. The new voice casting was also appreciated; Gies elaborated that the cast was "much less annoying" than the previous voice actors, and Hernandez considered their voices to be fitting for the characters.
The gameplay was praised, particularly for the Wisps and its replay value. Al Bickham of Eurogamer considered the game's intertwining of platforming and speed to be successful, and also praised its use of the Wii Remote. Gies, Douglas, and John Meyer of Wired praised the shift from third-person to side-scrolling, which Meyer described as "elegant and cohesive". Matthew Keast of GamesRadar called the Wisps the game's best feature, describing the element of backtracking to previously completed levels after unlocking more types as clever. Tim Turi of Game Informer praised the Wisps for adding "an interesting new gameplay mechanic without succumbing to Werehog-itis", and Gies compared the Wisps to power-ups from the Super Mario franchise, though he felt that Colors still felt distinctive and fresh. Douglas, however, preferred basic platforming over using the Wisps.
Some aspects of the game were criticized, however. Writing for Destructoid, Jim Sterling described Sonic Colors as "terribly designed". He criticized the controls and physics, and felt the developers had not addressed problems present in previous games and concluded that the game was poor. Gies, Hernandez, Meyer, Turi, and Keast criticized the game's high difficulty level, with Keast going as far to describe it as "hardcore". Both Gies and Douglas spoke negatively of the co-op Eggman's Sonic Simulator; Gies described it as not fun, and Douglas called it "ugly" and ultimately concluded that the multiplayer was weak. Douglas also made note of the boss fights as being repetitive.
Regarding the game as a whole, critics felt that Sonic Colors was one of the best entries in the Sonic series. IGN declared it one of the best games available for the Wii, and awarded it their "Quick Fix" award of 2010. Douglas concluded that "Wii owners shouldn't miss an opportunity to play with Sonic at his best". Empire considered Colors a return to form for the series, whose popularity had declined in recent years following a number of poorly received titles such as Sonic the Hedgehog (2006).
Sonic Colors introduced the Wisp power-ups, which would go on to become a staple of the Sonic franchise. Games featuring the Wisps include Sonic Generations (2011), Sonic Lost World (2013), and Sonic Forces (2017). The story of Sonic Colors was adapted in Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog comic book series.
Sonic Generations was released in commemoration of the series' twentieth anniversary, and remade various aspects from past entries. The version of the game released for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Microsoft Windows features a reimagined version of Sonic Colors's Planet Wisp level. The version of the game released for the Nintendo 3DS contains a remake of the Tropical Resort level.
- Sonic Colors (ソニックカラーズ Sonikku Karāzu) in Japan and Sonic Colours in PAL regions
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