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Eggmanland Re-Opens In Sonic Colors: Ultimate For XSX

Sonic Colors Ultimate Splash Image
Courtesy of SEGA.

Sonic Colors: Ultimate

Developer: Sonic Team
Publisher: Sega
Release Date: September 7, 2021
Available as: Digital and Physical

Sonic Colors Is Playable Everywhere, Ten Years Later

After being a Wii exclusive, not counting the Nintendo DS version that’s starkly different compared to the console version, Sonic Colors: Ultimate is finally released across multiple platforms for the first time in over a decade. Released as a part of Sonic’s 30th anniversary, Sonic Colors: Ultimate is an HD remaster of the original Wii title that introduced many Sonic mechanics that would remain relevant in recent titles. 

Its blend of 2D and 3D gameplay coupled with power-ups known as “Wisps” sought to combine classic Sonic gameplay for a new generation. Players who purchase the launch edition will also obtain a cute “Baby Sonic” keychain, based on the 2020 Sonic the Hedgehog movie.

Sonic Colors Ultimate Gameplay #1
Sonic Colors Ultimate - Xbox Series X Screen Capture

A Rough Start For The Blue Blur

Unfortunately, as exciting as a release is for Sonic fans, momentum and hype were stifled thanks to a disastrous “early access” launch period across several platforms, with the Switch version being the main offender. Players have reported several glitches including missing textures that cause spazz-inducing effects, random game crashes, slowdowns, and many more. It has gotten worse to the point where Nintendo themselves have allegedly eased up on its refund policy to unhappy consumers.

While it’s safe to assume Sega will address these problems sooner than later, how does the Blue Blur last on other consoles? More specifically, a console that most don’t consider Sonic games as their first choice? Here’s my experience with the Xbox One version of Sonic Colors Ultimate, running on the Series X.

Sonic Colors Ultimate Gameplay #2
Sonic Colors Ultimate - Xbox Series X Screen Capture

Sonic Colors: Ultimate Plays Solid On Xbox Series X

Despite some very weird audio levels, where the music and sound effect volume is shared via the same slider, and an uncommon glitch where the menu music takes a few seconds to fade in after returning to the main menu, the game runs near-perfect at a constant 60 FPS. This was run on the Xbox Series X, but it’d be safe to assume if this ran on an Xbox One, it would be met with the same results. 

The story is as easy to follow as any other Sonic game as Sonic and Tails must thwart Eggman’s plan to round up a bunch of innocent alien-like creatures known as Wisps and save them in the process. The duo goes through Eggman’s amusement park in space, with several attractions being made up of levels accessible via a level select menu. There are no open worlds, game hubs, and NPCs to engage in conversation with. It’s as simple as selecting a level and get from Point A to Point B. Even the dialogue between Sonic and Eggman are extra levels of sassy, a remnant of an era long gone in the Sonic universe.

Sonic Colors Ultimate Cutscene Game Capture
Sonic Colors Ultimate - Xbox Series X Screen Capture

The "Will" of the "Wisps"

Eggman will occasionally send one of his large bosses after Sonic, which serves as a way to teach the player how to properly use Wisps to overcome the challenges Sonic will face along the way. Wisps are this game’s version of “powerups” with each Wisp having a different effect once Sonic absorbs one. 

The regular white Wisps adds to Sonic’s boost meter, the teal Wisps allow him to zip along with obstacles, traveling great distances in record time. The green Wisps turns Sonic into a “ghost,” allowing him to phase through platforms and defeat enemies in hard-to-reach places. While there are more Wisps, the game doesn’t overwhelm the player by throwing them all at once, introducing several at a time as the story progresses.

Sonic Colors Level Select
Sonic Colors Ultimate - Xbox Series X Screen Capture

A Faithful Remaster: Nothing More, Nothing Less

The gameplay itself is reminiscent of Sonic Unleashed, mixing in 3D gameplay elements in a largely 2D environment. Future titles such as Generations and Forces would be influenced by Colors and it’s easy to see how Colors paved the way for future Sonic titles. Controlling Sonic at times can be similar to controlling a magnet, but as he gains momentum, he becomes easier to control. The usual “life” system being replaced by Tails bailing Sonic out of falling to his death is a nice touch, as 1UPs of Sonic are now replaced with Tails.

Overall, the “Ultimate” in Sonic Colors Ultimate doesn’t do much to add content that makes it stand out from its original counterpart. While it gives players a chance to play one of the most underplayed Sonic titles, it’s essentially a re-release of a decade-old game with very little in the way of fresh content. Considering that Colors is a solid 2D Sonic experience, it’s hardly an issue, but players who wish for a unique experience will have to be patient for a little while longer.

Sonic Colors: Ultimate is now available on the PC, Switch, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.

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