Sega has been taking things up a notch with the announcement of several new games to the Sonic franchise, Sonic 4, Sonic Free Riders and Sonic Colors. All of which were on display at E3 this year. It's an interesting franchise seeing that the classic games were an incredible experience, yet Sonic's 3D outings don't exactly have the best track record to date. It appears that Sega is trying to change that with Sonic Colors, a game that's a good mix between 3D and 2D planes.
The diabolical Dr. Eggman returns with yet another fiendish plot. He's rounded up several planets and turned them into an amusement park complete with attractions and giant cakes and hamburger stands as beautifully rendered backdrops. It's obviously all just a front for his menacing schemes though and Sonic sees right through it. In rounding up these planets, Eggman has also abducted an alien race called Wisps, abusing their colourful powers for his own personal gain. Thankfully, Sonic is also capable of harnessing their powers and in doing so, the game kicks off at full speed.
Colours attempts to add variety to the gameplay and there is some among the usual speeding and jumping. The game mixes things up by blending seamlessly between 3D platforming and 2D side-scrolling action. Much of the side-scrolling sequences are on-rails moments but they are well placed throughout the game, so much so that they aren't very noticeable until it's over. One thing's for sure, Sonic Colors has the speed down tight. It certainly feels like we were blasting through the level. The controls though, were a bit dodgy as turning took some time getting used to and the camera does do the odd zooming out and sometimes just a bit too far out that controlling Sonic becomes too problematic. Another issue involved getting stuck in a basin of sorts with no way out and it took a couple of awkward minutes before realizing that Sonic was capable of using different coloured Wisps for different purposes.
Wisps are an interesting addition to the game. Their powers enable Sonic to perform different abilities depending on their colours. Blue Wisps allow Sonic to dash at the push of the Wii remote's B button while yellow ones enable him to use a drill to access hidden underground areas. There also isn't a lot of gesture activated controls involved, just the minor shake of the Wii remote here and there, which is a much appreciated approach.
Visually, the game is certainly very colourful and backdrops look more like illusions caused by a massive sugar rush then a habitable planet. The stages can become frustratingly linear regarding where Sonic can go, but the backdrops give the illusions of an incredibly vast world and speeding through them can be fun.
Sonic Colors will be available for both the Wii and DS later this year and while we did give the Wii version a shot, we can't say the same for the DS version but apparently both games will feature slightly different stories. In any case, it may come as a natural reaction to simply brush off Sonic Colors due to its less than exciting name and the fact that 3D Sonic games haven't been the best lately with weird story elements such as werewolves, but Colors does look like it has some potential. Here's to hoping for the best for the Sonic franchise this year.