It’s been a decidedly quiet year for the blue blur so far considering it’s his 30th anniversary. It wasn’t until the Sonic Central stream during the tail end of May that we’d hear any of Sonic Team’s celebration plans, one of which is Sonic Colours: Ultimate, a remaster of the fantastic 2010 Nintendo exclusive for current consoles. I was able to get roughly half an hour of hands-on time with a pre-release build of the PC version and have come away from it feeling eager for the full release but worried about a few important aspects of the package.
As a Nintendo Wii and DS exclusive, Sonic Colours is one of the better modern entries in the series that probably didn’t reach as many people as it should’ve. Sonic Colours: Ultimate is the same experience with improved visuals, better performance, a remixed soundtrack, and some small gameplay additions. During my half hour with the game, I got to play through all of its first world, Tropical Resort, and part of its second, Sweet Mountain. I’m happy to report that Colours still plays as good as it did in 2010, with a solid mix of lightning-fast 3D platforming and slower, more methodical 2D sections that require a bit more precision.
The central mechanic that separates Colours from other modern Sonic games is via the Wisps, little aliens that Sonic can use as powerups. They allow for all kinds of shortcuts and fun gameplay situations, and Colours: Ultimate introduces a new Wisp, the Jade Ghost, which allows Sonic to pass through walls and obtain collectibles that are otherwise out of reach. Alongside the five Red Rings you can collect in each level are the Park Tokens, which can be spent on customization options for Sonic. I didn’t get the opportunity to play the new Rival Rush mode or spend any of the Park Tokens I picked up during the preview, so I can’t really comment on how much they add to the game. The inclusion of customizable controls, and the Tails Save add more accessibility and quality of life to the game overall. It’s a bit odd that there aren’t any bonus levels or an additional world that we know of, but maybe Rival Rush can fill the void of new content.
The biggest changes to Colours come in the form of its improved production values and remixed soundtrack. The revamped lighting and higher resolution leaves Colours looking as if it was always designed to be played in HD, everything is so vibrant and eye-catching and is an all-around pleasure to look at, even if most of it is a blur when you blaze past it. The jump up to 60 frames per second is also a dramatic improvement, especially in a Sonic game where everything moves at a break-neck pace and lightning reflexes are necessary when tackling time trials and such.
Where I’m the most mixed on Ultimate, though, comes in the form of its remixed soundtrack. Sonic games are renowned for having excellent OSTs, even Sonic ’06 has its fair share of killer tracks. The new music opts for more upbeat, techno-infused medleys that seem to work really well for Tropical Resort, but not so much for Sweet Mountain, which omits a lot of its memorable instrumentals in favour of electronic tunes. We’ll have to wait to see how the remixed soundtrack impacts Colours in full, but its hard not to worry when the original has some of the best music to come out of the series, which is really saying something.
Overall I’m excited to see how Sonic Colours: Ultimate can lift up and improve the original experience for new and old fans alike. While I’m a bit worried about how the final soundtrack will end up, the quality-of-life changes and technical improvements are a lot to get excited about. We’ll have to see if the new gameplay additions are enough to make it worthwhile for returning players, but for now, colour me hopeful and eager for Sonic Colours: Ultimate when it releases in September.