As a longtime fan of classic Sonic the Hedgehog games, I couldn’t resist jumping into Sonic Colors Ultimate when released last week. Unfortunately, I agreed and began playing the “greatest 3D Sonic game”—much to my dismay. Things certainly did not go as planned.
3D Sonic games, in my opinion, aren’t excellent and never have been. To be honest, arguments to the contrary have gone unheard by this vintage 2D enthusiast. But I didn’t let my prejudices get in the way of having an open mind.
There’s nothing to the plot other than Dr. Eggman’s construction of a themed resort in outer space with five interconnected worlds for his family and friends. Wisps, a kind of extraterrestrial found on many worlds, are sentient beings with various special abilities. Using the Wisps’ energy to create a weapon, Dr. Eggman hopes to gain total control of the cosmos. It really boils down to that.
The plot is usual for a Sonic game, which is to say that it’s just superficial and nothing special. The narrative itself is OK for a Sonic game, but the cutscenes illustrating it are abominable.
This remaster’s cutscene videos are convoluted. Those are in-engine texture films from the Wii original compressed for use on the 3DS. In other words, you’re playing a remastered game with pixelated, out-of-date visuals.
Aside from that, here is when I begin being the most critical I’ve ever been. It’s humiliating when gameplay, or the lack thereof, is poor. Before I started writing this, I nearly couldn’t find the words to describe how annoying the game’s controls are and how input is delayed.
If I’m playing a Sonic game, I assume that I’ll either move quickly or platform decently. When Sonic uses mechanics like Wall Jumping, they either function at the most inconvenient times or don’t work at all. With 3D and 2D sections swapping, this makes a challenging game to grasp if you’re playing for the first time.
Pushes and motions are either sluggish or jerky, making it difficult to maintain accuracy. Most of the time, the game plays itself by taking over your control of holding forward. You can only use the jump button in certain sections.
At first, I questioned if I was a games writer or simply terrible at the game. Possibly. This game will be more enjoyable if the controls are improved. This is a problem in every 3D Sonic game, so this isn’t a one-off.
There’s no need to worry about the difficulty; even the boss fights are easy since you have a lock-on ability by default. The goal of your first playthrough is to complete the stages as quickly as possible while collecting aliens and replaying previous levels for more treasures.
Wisps will provide you special powers that make gathering items from earlier levels easier as you go through the ranks. Additional modes like Metal Sonic racing and Tails Balloons offer some variety to the Sonic formula, but they don’t alter the core narrative in any significant way. When playing Eggman’s Sonic Sim in co-op mode, up to two people may play locally at the same time on a superficial level layout.
For 4K and 60 FPS, the game’s visuals have been remastered in phases. The highest resolution possible on the PlayStation 4 is 1080p, with frame speeds variable but often around 60fps. That’s a good thing.
No pun intended, but settings such as Tropical Resort have a vibrant and evocative feel to them. On the other side, the new remaster enhances the brightness of certain levels that previously had creative choices utilized in tunnels or other low-light locations.
Stages look considerably brighter in the remaster and nearly lose a tiny amount of color compared to the original Wii version on the PlayStation 4. Inadvertently, the more colorful scheme draws attention to the visuals, enhanced with more details on the ground and other vehicles.
Despite being altered, the music is almost identical to what players heard in the original game. Going back to the early 2010s was a nostalgic journey, even if I hadn’t played the original at the time of release. Except for Sonic Mania, Sonic Team understands how to create and get music for their games.
On the other hand, Jumping makes far more irritating noises, at least to this one person. The “swishing” sound of leaping is unique to 3D Sonic games (and perhaps 2.5D ones as well). Other noises in the game are to be anticipated while jogging near a waterfall or other natural landmarks.
Bugs were few and far between while I was playing. Then then, strangely enough, I kind of anticipated them. To appreciate what others have called “the best 3D Sonic game,” I must overcome all obstacles (such as controls).
Sonic Colors Ultimate was, to put it mildly, annoying for the most part. While completing my homework, I decided to give it a go since I passed it up when it first came out on the Nintendo Wii and see if I could warm up to it. This never happened to me while using it.
Sega supplied a review code for Sonic Colors Ultimate, which was tested on a PlayStation 4 system.