North American cover art
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|
Sonic Colors (ソニックカラーズ Sonikku Karāzu?), titled Sonic Colours in European and Australian markets, is a platforming game in the Sonic the Hedgehog series, developed by Sonic Team and published by Sega in 2010. The game was released worldwide for the Wii and Nintendo DS in November 2010.
The game is centered on the protagonist Sonic the Hedgehog and his fight against the main antagonist of the Sonic series, Dr. Eggman, who has taken an alien race hostage and is using them for his evil purposes. During the game, the camera perspective switches occasionally from third person to side-scrolling. During development, Sega explained that they were delisting sub-standard games in the Sonic series and developing new titles in order to increase the value of the brand. Development included the interchanging perspective, the idea for the game to be set at an amusement park, and a unique music score. Sega revealed that they were developing the game for a wide demographic, which included both older and younger consumers. The game introduces power-ups called Wisps, which the player can use to increase attack power and reach places they cannot otherwise.
Sonic Colors received positive reviews. Critics praised the presentation, citing excellent graphics and music, interchanging perspective in gameplay and advantages granted by the Wisps.
Sonic Colors is a platform game in which the player controls Sonic the Hedgehog, whose main objective is to save an alien race from being used by the main antagonist. The Wii version of Sonic Colors uses both side-scrolling and third-person perspectives, as with some of the stages in Sonic Unleashed. On the other hand, the Nintendo DS version is largely a side-scroller that takes advantage of the dual screens of the handheld, similar to the Sonic Rush DS games. The Wii version can be played with the Wii Remote (either with or without the Nunchuk), the Classic Controller, or a GameCube controller; the DS version uses the button controls, with touchscreen control during Special Stages. During the game, the player can use the colored energy obtained from different types of Wisps as power-ups that enhance Sonic's ability to traverse the environments and explore new areas. There are a total of eight different kinds of Wisps in the Wii version and six kinds in the DS version; some Wisps are exclusive to each version.
The Wii version features a 'Sonic Simulator' mode in which players control Sonic-modeled robots through a series of challenges, or with competitive or co-operative multiplayer, with two robots (or, once unlocked, Miis)  that are able to combine Wisp powers. These levels are accessed by collecting Red Star Rings hidden throughout each act. Collecting items called "Chaos Emeralds" allows Sonic to transform into Super Sonic after collecting 50 rings during any level (excluding bosses, Challenge Stages in the Egg Shuttle, and the Sonic Simulator). It also features a Challenge mode in which players can play all levels continuously and upload their total score to online leaderboards. The DS version features Special Stages, similar to Sonic Rush, that require the players to collect spheres of a specific color. Collecting all the emeralds in this version unlocks an extra stage exclusive to the DS version. The DS version also features missions, time limit challenges and competitive multiplayer modes, as well as various concept art unlocked by collecting Red Star Rings. Collecting all the Red Star Rings unlocks Infinite Boost in the Options Menu for the story mode only. Both versions of the game feature online leaderboards.
A major aspect of the game is the ability to activate Wisp power-ups, each with different advantages. These include the 'White Boost', which allows the player to get a speed boost at any time and to automatically attract nearby rings. 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; its effect is greatest in the Wii version's multiplayer stages. The 'Yellow Drill' allows Sonic to drill through soft ground and water, with the risk of losing a life if he is still underground when he reverts. The Yellow Drill also attracts Rings in the Wii version's multiplayer stages. The 'Orange Rocket' allows Sonic to blast upward to tremendous heights.
There are also version exclusive Wisps; those exclusive to the Wii version include the 'Pink Spikes', which allows Sonic to bond to walls and ceilings and to perform a "Spin Dash" to gain velocity and to destroy objects; the 'Green Hover' allows Sonic to hover and to perform dashes across lines of rings. Both Pink Spikes and Green Hover have the same extra effect in the Wii version's multiplayer stages: they create an imaginary line between both players which destroys any breakable items in its path. The Blue Cube allows Sonic to turn blue blocks into blue rings, and vice versa, opening new routes; when using it and landing on ground, nearby enemies and breakable blocks are destroyed. The 'Purple Frenzy' turns Sonic into a berserker that chomps through anything in its path, increasing in size as it continues to eat.
The DS version exclusive Wisps include the 'Red Burst', which allows Sonic to burst in midair and can activate certain objects such as a hot air balloon, Ferris wheel, and popcorn cannons, and the 'Violet Void', which gives Sonic the ability to float and to suck up nearby objects, growing bigger in the process.
Dr. Eggman opens an amusement park in space called "Dr. Eggman's Incredible Interstellar Amusement Park" made up of several planet-sized attractions, hoping to turn over a new leaf and make up for past transgressions. Suspicious, Sonic the Hedgehog and his best friend, Miles "Tails" Prower, 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 kidnapped by Eggman, who plans to harness their energy.
Allying with the Wisps and using their special powers, Sonic visits the planets, liberating the Wisps and shutting down the generators linked to the amusement park. Sonic learns that Eggman is transforming the Wisps into "Nega-Wisps" and using them as fuel for a mind-control cannon, planning to make Earth the star attraction of his theme park. When Eggman tries to fire the cannon at the world, a piece of wreckage, created when Sonic fought one of his robots, causes it to malfunction.
As the amusement park begins to explode, Sonic and Tails confront Eggman. Sonic pushes Tails into the space elevator to safety while he faces off against Eggman, who 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 Sonic hits the machine, it gets weaker, and the Wisps are able to 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 and bids them goodbye. In an epilogue, Eggman is shown in the far corners of space with only his two robot henchmen, Orbot and Cubot, for company.
In the DS version, following Eggman's defeat, Sonic and Tails learn that the Mother Wisp had been infected by the negative energy and is transformed into the Nega-Mother Wisp, which Sonic defeats as Super Sonic. The Mother Wisp returns to normal and the Wisps part ways with the two heroes.
Sonic Team examined criticism of previous Sonic titles from critics and fans and tailored the game to match. Changes made included an amalgamation of 2.5D and 3D level designs and graphics, powerup-driven gameplay, and omission of "gimmick" themes such as the sword in Sonic and the Black Knight. One of the first developments made 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. The music was then written to "expand beyond the usual 'cool' Sonic sound and focus on making fun, up-tempo music that will really get players' blood pumping." The producer, Takashi Iizuka said that Sonic Colors was aimed at children, stating that the game is intended to be "...played by children of probably between six and twelve years old to make sure that everyone can play it and have fun with it,", while Iizuka had previously admitted that it is "nearly impossible to please all Sonic gamers". This statement alienated some critics and core gamers who enjoyed previous entries such as Sonic Unleashed and Sonic the Hedgehog 4. Sega of America later assured that the game is intended for a wider demographic, aiming to make it accessible for both younger consumers and core fans. Sega also admitted that the game was also designed to appeal to Mario fans, and added that "So from that perspective we hope that fans of Mario will really be able to enjoy playing as Sonic in Sonic Colours." Iizuka later explained his comment, stating the game is a proper mainstream platforming title for the Wii and DS, intending to expand on the audience gained from the Mario & Sonic series.
The English script for Sonic Colors was written by MadWorld and Happy Tree Friends writers, Ken Pontac and Warren Graff. The game, along with Sonic Free Riders, is also one of the first in the series to feature a new voice cast, though Mike Pollock still voices Dr. Eggman. The music of Sonic Colors was composed by Kenichi Tokoi, Tomoya Ohtani, Fumie Kumatani, Hideaki Kobayashi, Mariko Nanba, and Naofumi Hataya. 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 (ソニックカラーズ オリジナルサウンドトラック ヴィヴィッド・サウンド × ハイブリッド・カラーズ?), featuring music from the game was released on CD in Japan on December 22, 2010, with a digital version released via iTunes in Japan on January 25, 2011, and in North America and Europe on January 26, 2011.
Release and promotion
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. North American gamers who pre-ordered the game through Gamestop received a Sonic shaped hat. Figures of Sonic and the Wisps were included in a special edition sold in Europe, as well as pre-orders of the game via Argos in the UK and Ireland, although there were reports of customers not receiving the figurine with their orders from EB Games in Australia. A manga adaptation of Sonic Colors has also been released in Japan while a five-page comic adaptation will feature in issue #219 of Archie's Sonic the Hedgehog comic series. Another action figure was released by Jazwares that includes a 5-inch Sonic with two Wisps.
Pre-release reception for Sonic Colors was largely positive. Sonic Colors was nominated for Best Platformer Game at GameTrailers' E3 2010 awards, who also commented that it was "looking even better than the retro-inspired Sonic 4". For IGN's "Best of E3 2010 awards", Sonic Colors was nominated for "Best Wii game", but lost to Epic Mickey, "Best DS game", and "Best Platformer". Arther Gies from IGN said that after playing both Sonic 4: Episode I and Sonic Colors, he was "surprised" to find he was "more interested" in the latter.
Sonic Colors received positive reviews from critics. Aggregating review websites GameRankings and Metacritic gave the Wii version 78.02% and 78/100 and the Nintendo DS version 77.75% and 79/100. IGN referred to it as "the best Sonic game in 18 years," praising its gameplay, controls, and level design, while criticizing some difficulty spikes later in the game, as well as the multiplayer cooperation; in their review, they complained that "One screen isn't enough for two Sonics." IGN also awarded the Wii version their "Quick Fix Award" in their Best of 2010 awards and ranked it as the 16th greatest Wii game in 2011. Critics also made note of easy bosses within the game. Gaming magazine Nintendo Power praised the Wii version as "an unequivocal success", and criticized the short length of the DS version; the former won Nintendo Power's "Best Graphics of 2010" award. WiiMagazin, a German gaming magazine, stated in their review that "There is a God, and he's a Sonic fan." Joystiq said of the game, "Sonic Colors succeeds where so, so many other Sonic games have failed." Eurogamer Italy wrote that "Platforming has rarely been so fun and engaging." British film magazine Empire gave Colors 4/5 stars, calling it "one of the most accomplished, rewarding and compelling Sonic adventures in years" due to its "fabulous level design" and "some of the best graphics ever seen on the Wii."
GameTrailers was more critical of the Wii version, citing unresponsive controls and underused power-ups. Other complaints included a lack of enemy diversity and the juvenile nature of the cutscenes. Conversely, Game Informer praised the writing, but made note of the difficulty on the Wii version, as well as criticizing floaty physics. However, it reviewed the DS version more positively, stating that "Dimps continues its run of entertaining titles with Sonic Colors."
The game marked the introduction of the Wisps as a gameplay mechanic to the series. In celebration of Sonic's 20th anniversary, Sega released Sonic Generations, which included elements drawn from previous Sonic games, including Sonic Colors. Planet Wisp appears as a stage in the console and PC versions, with the Pink Spike and Orange Rocket Wisps being available to both Classic and Modern Sonic, respectively. Tropical Resort is included in the Nintendo 3DS handheld version, with the Red Burst and Cyan Laser Wisps being available to both Classic and Modern Sonic, respectively. The Wisps returned a second time in 2013's Sonic Lost World.  They also appeared in the mobile auto-runner, Sonic Runners.
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