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Sonic Colors Impressions

"Things get colorful for the famous blue hedgehog in this upcoming Sonic game for the Wii and DS. "

The beloved hedgehog known as Sonic has had a career full of ups and downs, though if Sega is to be believed, he's about to have a few more ups. We sat down with Sega to see the spiny mammal's upcoming adventure, Sonic Colors, at E3 2010. This vibrant-looking platformer takes its cues from 2008's Sonic Unleashed (the daytime levels, that is) but imbues Sonic with new powers based on color. Truth be told: We liked what we saw and look forward to seeing how these newfound powers might invigorate this fast-paced platforming romp.

Sonic Colors takes place on a giant theme park created by Dr. Eggman. The mad scientist has tethered multiple planetoids together with chains to create this park--Eggman's Amazing Interstellar Amusement Park. These worlds were not uninhabited however; creatures called wisps lived upon them. Not only does Sonic need to foil Eggman's latest scheme, but he must also rescue these creatures, though he doesn't just do so out of the kindness of his heart. (Though we can assume Sonic is still kind of heart, of course.) By helping these wisps, Sonic absorbs their color, which in turn, imparts a special ability.

The first level we saw was Tropical Resort, a colorful environment that looked like, well, a tropical resort. Much of the gameplay looked like typical Sonic, with the cute character zipping down ramps and around loops, picking up rings and showing of his blazing speed. Sequences occurred in both 3D and 2D, and the game looked to transition seamlessly from one perspective to the other. Expect to see powers pulled from Unleashed, such as boost and homing attacks, and (of course) an emphasis on high-speed action. But Sonic isn't limited to those older powers. Now, he can appropriate skills taken from the wisps, such the new laser power. Like the other powers you learn, the laser power has a number of different uses, but it will come in most handy to power through enemies, which you can do by shaking the Wii Remote.

The laser isn't the only power that will come in handy. Sonic can also drill through the ground to discover new areas and collectibles. All of the drilling we saw took place in 2D and made Sonic seem like a superpowered, superfast Dig Dug. Using the drill, you can create alternate paths and find hidden rooms, and from what we saw, the drilling doesn't seem to cramp Sonic Colors' sense of speed. In fact, Sega representatives impressed upon us that all of these color powers emphasized speed and were created to keep the pace moving. In addition, levels are meant to be replayed after you've earned new powers, so while you may not get to see these nooks and crannies the first time around, taking the drill back with you will reveal new surprises. The drilling looked particularly enjoyable in the next level we saw, as the ground looked like a cross section of a giant cake filled with orange slices and jelly beans.

That sweets-themed level also featured giant lollipops, cupcakes, and candy factories, and the gameplay moved along briskly. It took Sonic across neon-lit rails and through more curly loops, and we also saw more uses for the existing powers. For example, using the laser power in conjunction with crystals placed in the levels lets you take shortcuts. The demo ended with a 2D boss fight in which Sonic used both his homing attack and laser power to vanquish a giant eye, all while leaping between platforms circling the eye like nested Ferris wheels.

Sega believes that the amusement park theme will give the game a lot of variety, and reps also seem pleased with the planetary hub, which allows players to easily move between levels with a minimum of fuss. A DS version of Sonic Colors is also in the works. That version is built around the popular Sonic Rush and will feature exclusive color powers not seen in the Wii version. Fans should expect Sonic Colors to hit store shelves in late 2010, and GameSpot will bring you more information as it rushes past.

Posted on Jun 16, 2010



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