Sonic Colors: Ultimate Looks Better Than Ever

Sonic Colors: Ultimate Preview

There are a handful of Sonic games that are almost universally beloved by fans. One of those games is Sonic Colors. Considered a triumphant return to form after a string of bizarre failures, I’d somehow never played this series high point. Thankfully, I recently got a chance to sit down for a very short run through Sonic Colors: Ultimate. Even with a scant 30 minutes under my belt, it’s clear the fans were on to something, all those years ago. This is a dang decent 3D Sonic game.

Colors takes place in a beautiful, bizarre theme park world run by Robotnik. Old Eggman is harvesting adorable aliens as a power source, a grim plot hook that the game treats with curious whimsy. Maybe being used as a living battery just leaves you tired and sad? I only played for thirty minutes, after all. The dialogue in these opening sections is fun, snappy, and clever. The story doesn’t take itself too seriously, which is a huge relief. The Blue Blur is at his best when he’s having fun, after all.

Pretty Fun For A Glittering Theme Park Satellite

Combat is given a shot in the arm with the introduction of the Wisps, the aforementioned aliens. Different colored creatures give access to different powers. The first one you unlock is a laser-guided super dash. It’s great for accidentally shooting straight up and also shredding the first real boss fight. Otherwise, you’re still doing that auto-target air dash that makes regular enemies into harmless platforms. With or without powers, moving through the stages is fast and frantic without feeling overwhelming or unwieldy. Even with the game being streamed to my PC, the controls were still rock solid. It bodes quite well for the actual release this Fall.

Sonic Colors: Ultimate

Apparently, I had access to three different zones during the demo? I chose (without meaning to!) to fully explore the first zone. But that’s okay, because the first zone is delightful. If what I’ve seen is any indication, gameplay is widely varied, well-paced, and occasionally quite unconventional. It’s a lot of familiar comforts for a Sonic fan, but still! I was challenged, I was intrigued, I was overjoyed. But never too frustrated. I know there’s almost certainly frustration in my future, but I’m okay with that.

Speaking of frustration, one thing that persists in Colors: Ultimate is the control philosophy. For new players, it’s important to know that Sonic almost always moves like he’s got rockets in his shoes. Just about too fast, skidding slightly to a stop, begging to accelerate beyond your meager grasp. I’m always thrown off by this at first, but you quickly acclimate. Sometimes it feels like stages aren’t designed for speedy traversal. They are! There’s just an ever-increasing challenge involved in doing so.

His Feet Barely Touching The Floor

Since this is a remaster, some time should be spent covering the immediately apparent improvements over the original release. Which I simply cannot do! I never played the original Sonic Colors. I went into this demo session fully blind. My only context is a ton of other Sonic games. Within that larger framework, Colors: Ultimate looks awesome. There’s none of the bizarre self serious tones that plague so many other releases. The controls and mechanics are well-honed and perfectly fluid. And, thanks to the somewhat timeless aesthetic shared by modern Sonic games, this feels very much like a new release.

There’s a lot to look forward to here. The wisps and the many powers they unlock, the fantastic theme park worlds to explore, the breezy narrative tone, and the fast-paced action all hold a ton of promise. All of my praise and anticipation is couched within the usual Sonic tropes and templates of course. Saying this looks excellent ‘for a Sonic game’ feels mean, but it’s out of love! If this wasn’t at least a little janky, goofy, and uneven, I’d be a bit shocked. Disappointed, even. Sonic Colors: Ultimate looks like a pure, unfiltered Sonic game, one you won’t want to miss when it comes out this September.

***A PC demo build of the game was provided by the publisher***