Sonic Colours Nintendo Wii hands-on

News Ryan Lambie 23 Sep 2010 - 17:06

Sega’s blue hedgehog gets a Nintendo-exclusive outing with Sonic Colours. Here’s our hands-on impressions of the Wii version…

After years spent wandering a wilderness of mediocrity, Sega’s blue mascot looks set to enjoy something of a return to form. Sonic The Hedgehog 4 Episode One, the forthcoming down-load only platformer due out for Xbox 360, WiiWare, PS3 and iPhone later this year, returns the blue blur to his 2D, side-scrolling roots, and what we’ve experienced of the game so far was highly positive.

Elsewhere, the famous hedgehog’s due to appear in a Nintendo-exclusive adventure that could prove to be even better than the eagerly awaited Sonic 4.

Called Sonic Colours, the game sounds like yet another sub-par entry into a series already bloated with misfires (it’s hard not to shudder when thinking about 2006’s Sonic The Hedgehog, even now). Colours is the latest attempt to push the character into the realms of 3D, a transition that has so far never been achieved with the success of Mario.

And despite Sega’s Takashi Iizuka’s confident statement that it’s “one of the best Sonic games ever,” my initial mindset, when picking up the Wii’s controller for a little hands-on time with the game, was one of extreme scepticism.

It doesn’t take long, however, to realise that Sonic Colours is very different from the ill-judged 3D efforts that have come before it. For one thing, it’s not exclusively 3D, as previous attempts have been – taking a leaf out of Super Mario Galaxy’s book, Sonic Colours flicks seamlessly between a standard third-person view, with the camera chasing Sonic through a rollercoaster world of technicolor platforms, slides and tunnels, and a traditional side-scrolling perspective, which closely mimics the Mega Drive classics of old.

Set on an astral amusement park built by the apparently reformed Doctor Eggman, it’s Sonic’s job to rescue a race of alien creatures known as Wisps from the crazy scientist’s grasp. Once captured, these Wisps imbue Sonic with new powers, which vary depending on the alien’s colour. Cyan Wisps transform Sonic into a photon of light that bounces off surfaces at 45 degree angles, while yellow ones change him into a drill that can smash through scenery.

The overall feel of the game and its controls isn’t dissimilar to the Sonic Adventure games, but the quality of Colours’ level design and the polish with which it’s been put together is far superior to anything we’ve seen in a Sonic title quite some time, integrating the flat-out speed of an arcade racer with the twitch reflexes of a platformer.

Sonic can grind along monorails at break-neck speed, chain attacks together to destroy multiple enemies in rapid succession, before taking to the skies using a Wisp rocket power. All this is achieved through simple waggles of the remote and jabs of the A button, and levels pass in a blur of light and colour.

Sonic Colours’ multiplayer mode is similarly impressive, and takes its inspiration from another Nintendo hit, New Super Mario Bros. Wii, with the view zooming in and out to accommodate two-player co-op platforming. Its 2D action is less speedy and colourful than the single-player campaign, but requires greater communication between players to navigate its spiky, intricate level maps.

What we’ve played of Sonic Colours so far has been encouraging in the extreme, and contains the speed, variety and design coherence that so many of its predecessors have lacked.

It’s unlikely to steal Super Mario Galaxy 2’s crown as the Wii’s finest platformer, but we can confidently say that, with Sonic Colours, Sega’s ageing mascot is finally back up to speed.

Sonic Colours is due for release on 12 November for Nintendo Wii.

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