Long-running franchises – well, at least the ones that aren’t about Italian plumbers – tend to have a sort of rising and falling thing going on. A lot of people will tell you they dropped off of Final Fantasy around the time that 12 or 13 came out, for instance. Likewise, Sonic the Hedgehog stumbled a little around 2006 when a certain Xbox 360 game came out that left a stain on the industry as a whole. It took Sega some time to help our speedy hero get back on his feet, but these days Sonic games (and movies!) are once again something to look forward to. Sonic Mania, anyone?
One of the titles that helped Sonic get his groove back was Sonic Colors on the Wii back in 2010, and now we’ve got Sonic Colors Ultimate, a remastered version you can play on all your fancy new devices.
Sonic the Hedgehog, the fastest thing alive, hero to all animals and known chili dog addict, is back! Well…”back.” It’s a remaster, so he’s been back. You know what I mean. Anyway, he’s battling the villainous Dr. Eggman yet again, this time in a space-based amusement park that Eggman’s constructed in orbit. That would normally be fine! The problem is that Eggman’s park is running on energy extracted from the Wisps, the native species of the local Planet Wisp, and as Sonic says: that’s no good. It’s up to the hedgehog hero to take down Eggman, wreck his dumb amusement park and save the Wisps.
Colors follows Sonic Generations as a representative of the boost-focused style that’s emblematic of many of the modern Sonic games. Sonic’s got his traditional run, jump and spin dash, but here he’s also got a button you can slam to speed him up to insane levels. This runs off an easily-replenished boost meter; many of the levels end up feeling like excuses to boost through everything as often as possible, which might seem a little brainless but also really nails the speed-focused gameplay that Sonic encourages. Don’t worry, Sonic fans – there’s still plenty of spikes and pits to really nail that classic experience.
This entry adds a second gimmick to the mix by introducing Wisp powers. Those Wisps that are powering the park are happy to help Sonic out where they can. They do so by giving him temporary abilities, like transforming into a rocket, laser, vortex and more. Wisp powers are readily available and feel pretty good to use, particularly the laser and associated laser-reflecting set pieces. Collecting new Wisp powers unlocks them for use in earlier levels as well, allowing you to return and collect goodies you might have missed.
That’s all about the same as the Wii version of Sonic Colors, of course. What’s new in Ultimate? Well, it’s a nicer-looking game by most standards, with 4K options and 60FPS, though there’s the odd animation bug here and there. If you’re playing on PC the game’s smooth as butter and a pretty pleasant experience. Oh, and no waggle. Did the Wii version even have waggle? Remember when waggle was a thing?
From a gameplay perspective, the biggest change is that rather than lives, Sonic now has Tails Saves, which allow the foxy boi to show up and save the blue blur when he passes away rather than forcing Sonic to restart. Other than that, it’s not actually possible to die enough to game over anymore, which isn’t a huge deal in a world where most games have gotten rid of the lives concept anyway. There’s also a few new outfit customization options that don’t add a whole lot to the game, but they’re there if you want ’em.
Sonic Colors is often hailed as one of Sonic’s great comebacks during a period where everyone was (justifiably) wary of new games featuring the hedgehog. Fear not – Sonic Colors Ultimate takes the original Wii game and remasters it for the modern age, and it’s definitely worth playing. There’s a few hiccups here and there, but it’s generally a super Sonic good time and taking a spin with. Or a few spins. Don’t forget to bring some chili dogs.