Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Review: Sonic Colors (DS)

Platform: Nintendo DS

Developer: Dimps/Sonic Team

Publisher: Sega

# of Players: 1-2

ESRB Rating: E (Everyone)

Official Site

Score: A-

The stellar Sonic revival continues with Sonic Colors on the DS, which, like it's big brother on the Wii just so happens to be one of the best games on the platform this year. While it takes a few of its its visual and gameplay cues from the great Sonic Rush series, the blend of classic fast-paced 2D side-scrolling (with some nifty 3D boss battles and other sections) and super-colorful visuals makes for an exciting chunk of portable goodness. Like any platformer worth its salt, there area few really pesky spots where a careless jump or accidental nudge on that D-pad will send you falling to a Sonic doom. On the other hand, the game is so much fun that you'll go back again and again until you nail every level and find every secret.

Like the Wii version, the game takes place in Eggman's massive, deceptively cute and colorful amusement park where Sonic and Tails find themselves after riding up in a space elevator. There are enemies and big bosses to best, Wisps to track down and secure powers from and loads of shortcuts and hidden areas to uncover. You'll need to play through the maps and yes, the game more than once to unlock everything and the DS version is about as much solid fun as the Wii game. Controls are solid, but you'll want to be careful when jumping where moving platforms are the main means of getting around. If you button bash that jump or don't lay off the D-pad when dashing, you'll run right off and fall which can lead to backtracking or the loss of one of Sonic's lives. Of course, old school Sonic fans know all this already, right?

Bosses are slightly tougher than the Wii version, but shouldn't give you too much trouble unless you're scared of over-sized and brightly colored mechanical beasties zipping around and trying to flatten poor Sonic into a bright blue pancake. It's certainly satisfying to put these guys down and clear some of the tougher stages, particularly those levels where getting to the boss is a true test of your gaming skills. There are some mildly frustrating parts in some levels where you'll got zooming right into an enemy or some other obstacle, lose all your rings and bounce into a dead drop because you blinked at the wrong moment. Most checkpoints in the game are fairly placed, but some areas require next to no mistakes or you'll be restarting from the beginning of the stage.

The level layouts are of course, very different that the Wii version, but you still get a bunch of well laid out, huge maps, similarly themed levels and tons of hidden stuff. What's amazing about the overall presentation is how Dimps and Sonic Team have translated the gameplay experience almost intact from the Wii version in terms of adding the opening movie, loads of voice work and even a variation on the Sonic Simulator sub-game. Here, it plays a bit differently, allowing for versus CPU or single card and/or Wi-Fi play against one other player. The stages here are more colorful and allow for bit more challenge in some areas and yes, you'll need the same combination of speed and pinpoint platforming accuracy to survive here.

As far as longevity goes, expect about 6 - 8 or so hours to complete the game, but easily double that if you're trying to find everything, break records and get your leaderboard scores posted over a Wi-Fi connection. Sure, you can't use your Miis like in the Wii version, but that's a trade-off I'm more than willing to sacrifice as this is a Sonic game, not another version of Wii Whatever. Overall, Sonic Colors is a fantastically fast, fully enjoyable blast of classic platforming fans will absolutely love. If Sonic Team and Dimps can keep this level of quality up, we just might see Sonic rise to where he should be - at the top of his game and outpacing all comers.

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