Eleven years later and we get a remaster of one of the most important 3D Sonic games ever released. I say that, yet I myself – a self-proclaimed massive Sonic fan – never actually got around to playing it, so this was the perfect opportunity to fix that.
Let’s start with the base game. If you somehow don’t know what this game is – it’s a 2D and 3D platformer that has you running through these massive levels, collecting rings along the way, and basically aiming to get top scores in each level. Sound easy, but there is a LOT to each level, some with upwards of a dozen different paths you can take to get to the end.
It’s a bit of a balancing act between doing some light exploration (and collecting the hidden goodies) and getting to the end of the stage in a timely manner. It’s a strength that the Sonic series has always had and Colors is no exception. It even has its fair share of boss fights – the first handful of which are nothing really special, but they get increasingly more difficult as the game goes on, capitalizing with the final boss that is way harder than I would ever expect from a Sonic game.
This “more challenging than it appears” theme actually extends to the rest of the game. The first couple acts – easy, but after that point I did die quite a bit. The original game was apparently considered one of the more difficult Sonic games and I can definitely see that translated here (although with a couple changes I’ll go into later). Still, it’s a nice change of pace for the series.
And speaking of changes of pace – Sonic Colors is the first game in the series to use the wisp power ups that have now become a staple. These are the little floaty ghost-looking dudes that you can pick up and then activate to turn into a rocket, a drill, a laser, a hovercraft, and more.
The level design is done with these guys in mind and it makes for some very creative stages, whether that be drilling through giant cakes in Sweet Mountain or using the Green Wisp to fly around attractions in Starlight Carnival. They make the game more than just “run to the end as fast as you can” and I enjoyed the depth added to the gameplay because of them.
Now as for the remaster stuff – there’s a good bit here. This isn’t just one of those “update the graphics and move on” kind of remasters, Sonic Colors: Ultimate also adds a bunch of new gameplay additions. For example, the Jade Wisp – first introduced in Team Sonic Racing – is fully implanted into the gameplay here and is a lot of fun to use. It basically turns you into a ghost and allows you to jump through solid objects, making the complex and dense levels easier to navigate.
The difficulty has also been toned down by the removing of the original “life” system. Now, you just respawn at the checkpoint as many times as you want and you can even find these new “Tails Saves” that allow Tails to pick you up when you fall to your death. Given how difficult the base game can be at times, this is a nice way to balance it out a bit – makes it so I’m not wasting so much time getting back to where I first died at. Granted, this also makes the game shorter (it took me four hours to clear each level once), but the quality of those hours are improved as a result.
The remaster also adds appearance customization, a new “Rival Rush” mode that has you racing against Metal Sonic, a new “extras” section that allows you to view cutscenes and listen to the game’s soundtrack, and numerous quality of life additions – like being able to see percentage cleared on the world map.
And of course, this is all on top of the massive visual upgrade. FPS has been doubled to 60, resolution can now be put up to 4K, subtitling has been added for ALL cutscenes, and animations, models, and sound effects have all been given a bit of a facelift as well. It looks far better than the 480p 30fps as seen on the Wii and ran flawlessly on my PS5 without so much as a hiccup.
Another change – and one of my favorites – was made to the soundtrack. The soundtrack already slapped in the original game (I know from listening to it for years), but they made it even better with the inclusion of a bunch of new remixes. You can still access the original music in-game through the extras section, but these new remixes are some great stuff and could easily stand on their own. The full remixed soundtrack comes out later this month, so I’m definitely excited for that.
So yes, I would recommend Sonic Colors: Ultimate. The base game is good enough, but the remaster stuff on top of that really elevates it. Modern graphics, new gameplay additions, a bop of a soundtrack – it’s a nice remaster all around. Ultimately though, this is a 3D Sonic game, so if you’ve played one before, you’ll kinda know what to expect here. As a fan of such, I am definitely satisfied.
Quote: Sonic Colors: Ultimate brings modern graphics, new gameplay additions, and a remixed bop of a soundtrack to an already great platformer – an easy recommendation for series fans.
Sonic Colors: Ultimate retails for $40 USD and is available on PS4, Switch, and Xbox One.
I was provided a review copy of the game in order to write this review. Read more about how I do my game reviews here.