REVIEW – Four years after Sonic Forces and with a new episode due to arrive next year, the famous hedgehog goes through a remaster with Sonic Colours: Ultimate, a slightly improved version of the eponymous title released in 2010 Wii. As usual, the program includes better graphics, a little reworked gameplay and a few new features. Is it worth it? We answer in this review. Here is our verdict on Sonic Colours: Ultimate.
Colours: Ultimate shouldn’t be synonymous with a blue scare if each new Sonic game is a bit of a mixed bag for fans. The title is a remaster of 2010’s Sonic Colours. This much-loved episode returns in 4K/60fps with improved graphics and gameplay, a new “Rival Rush” mode that races you against Metal Sonic, “Tails Save” that allows Sonic’s best friend to bring him back to life in the middle of the course, a short moment of invincibility when collecting a hundred rings, the ability to customize Sonic and finally a new “Wisp”. As a reminder, the Wisps are the creatures at the heart of Sonic Colours’ storyline and gameplay, which you will unlock as you play through the adventure and then encounter during the levels. The hedgehog will then activate new abilities: to run at the speed of light for a short time with the “laser” Wisp, to run on walls and ceilings with the “spine” Wisp, etc. But the infamous Doctor Eggman, under cover of an interstellar amusement park, is coming up with a new diabolical plan using the power of these creatures. As a hero’s daily life, it will be necessary to do everything to stop him.
The Tails Save, too much of a novelty?
Some fans must have been worried when they read that Sonic Colours: Ultimate would feature Tails Save, a new system where Tails comes to put you back on track after a fall or death, in addition to the classic checkpoints. Don’t worry; the feature doesn’t make the game easier but rather less frustrating. Indeed, for the fox to help you, you must have at least one Tails Save token in your possession. These tokens are hidden in the levels and are not very numerous (it is rare to have five on you). Above all, they have one hell of an advantage: they bring you back to the more or less exact place where you died rather than to the last checkpoint you crossed. A good idea that is not too intrusive in the end.
Before we talk about the new features of this remaster, let’s talk about the basics. Sonic Colours will take you on a journey through six different worlds, each with six levels and a boss, to dismantle the various pillars of Eggman’s evil plan one by one. Each level also contains six red coins, sometimes well hidden (you’ll often have to go back to previously visited levels with the right Wisps to find them). Coins that allow you to unlock bonus paths – frankly dispensable, even if playable in pairs – in the Sonic Simulator. By completing the final act of each zone of the simulation, you will have access to Super Sonic, a playable character who has the particularity of having an unlimited boost. So there’s nothing new under the sun here. It will take you about 12 hours to reach 100%.
On the other hand, the red coins now give you access to the Rival Rush mode mentioned above, provided you have collected fifteen of them in each of the six worlds. Therefore, there are a total of six races against Metal Sonic, and it’s fair to say that they don’t have much interest other than to test yourself a little (no new courses on the programme). The objective of Rival Rush is to get to the finish line before your opponent, who will leave no room for error. If you win, you’ll earn around 50 Park Tokens, another new feature of this remaster that allows you to buy numerous customization items for Sonic – gloves, trainers, turbo and aura colours, etc. – as well as new music to listen to as you wish, in the game menus. You can also find these tokens directly in the levels. You’ll also get a bonus token if you get an “A” for the final score of a level and three if you manage to get an “S”, the highest score in Sonic Colours.
Beneath the surface
In the end, apart from the other new features of this edition (notably the new Wisp, which will help go through walls and find secrets), the significant addition of Sonic Colours: Ultimate is undoubtedly its 60 frames per second framerate and its 4K resolution, with slightly improved graphics. So yes, SEGA has only applied a bit of paint on the old polygons – some 3D models look very old -, but it’s more pleasing to the eye. Like the planet where the Wisps come from, some areas are even rather pretty, with Sonic’s speed acting as a mask. A rate that is felt more than ever thanks to the 60fps. Minor disappointment: the cinematics keeps their old framerate and resolution. So beware of pixels in 4K.
Jerks on PS4 Pro fixed with PS5 backwards compatibility?
Even though Sonic: Colours Ultimate doesn’t have a proper PS5 version (even though it’s being released on both Xbox One and Xbox Series), we did play the backwards compatibility game: in addition to the shorter loading times brought by the new PlayStation, the framerate of the remaster is also more stable. On the PS4 Pro, slight jerks rarely disrupt Sonic’s run, though they don’t disrupt the gameplay too much. You know what to do if you have a PlayStation 5.
Yet, under the surface, Sonic Colours has not changed, with the same qualities and flaws. Flaws that are found in almost every 3D instalment of the series: stiff platforming, poor animation and camera angles, as well as gameplay inaccuracies, such as when a double jump ends up with the nose in a nearby enemy because of the auto-attack. Sonic Colours also has the bad habit of breaking the rhythm of the races because of short sequences that require precise jumps and Wisps, even if their use is not often mandatory to finish a level. By the way, while we’re on the subject of creatures, we wouldn’t have minded some improvements. The transitions between the “standard” gameplay and the alien powers still lack fluidity (which also breaks the rhythm), and there is still no button to interrupt a transformation. On this point, we expected more from Sonic Colours: Ultimate. It’s a shame.
So yes, this remaster could have been better than what it is. But is that enough to sulk in pleasure? From our side, we don’t think so. Even if we liked more new features, Sonic Colours: Ultimate brings back to life an episode of the hedgehog that knows how to be enjoyable. The thrill of speeding through the levels is still there, as is the exhilarating sequence of different gameplay phases during the races (backwards, sideways, underwater, upside down). Even the Wisps can be enjoyable, like when you have to run underwater with the yellow creature, even though their use is not always straightforward and their execution lacks finesse. In any case, we can’t criticize them for the diversity and replayability they bring. Not to mention the literally colourful universe of the title, the light and nice cinematics, and the different levels’ variety. It’s not the best 3D opus of the series, nor the most exemplary remaster, but a good game nevertheless.
+ Uninterrupted pleasure of speeding along
+ Varied and enjoyable gameplay
+ 4K/60fps and improved graphics
– A remaster that lacks depth
– Sonic 3D’s flaws are still there
– The control is lacking
Developer: Sonic Team
Style: Classic platform action
Release date: September 7, 2021