E3 2010: Sonic Colours Hands-On

Originally Posted on June 16th, 2010: Link.

My first real taste of the showroom floor was at the Sega booth and Sonic Team’s upcoming entry into their mascot’s fabled career. Both the Wii and DS versions were on display.

Sonic Colours on the Wii pretty much played exactly how I expected it to play. It was Sonic Unleashed, but without the controversial night-time Werehog mode. The action was fun, fast, and intense at times. What I enjoyed is how Sega understood the things that fans were asking for and were able to capitalize it by focusing on the blending of 3D and 2D. There was only one level to play on the Wii version, but it appeared to get what was decent about their most recent games. There was also a boss mode directly following it, where in order to get to the boss you had it take it across two sets of ferris wheels.

Overall, the game came across as way too simple and very easy. When I play a Sonic game, I want a good degree of difficulty to keep me wanting to come back and try again. That was one of the real draws of the old Sonic games (like the Megaman games), and I think it is something that has kind of gone lost in its transition to 3D, where the only real difficulty it had was dealing with a tricky camera or confusing level design.

The DS version, however, really showed that in the 21st century, nothing on the consoles can match what their handheld titles have to offer. It was an absolutely incredible experience that really brought that nostalgiac factor when I was a kid playing these games around my family. The best part is that they put a neat little twist on the gameplay where elements such as powerups and the use of flight comes into play. Aside from the Dash feature present on other Sonic handheld games, you can now control the element on fire, being able to jump multiple times in the air and get through these tubes to get through the stage. For flight, players can use a rocket to shoot around through the air, or a hand glider that cuts to a camera to a diagonal camera around the player to collect rings and avoid obstacles in the air. Even the boss fight, simplistic as it was, was a good time all around. I can really see myself playing this game as soon as it comes out, and I believe is doing a lot more in this space than anything I have really seen come out of Sonic 4.

Am I saying that Sonic has no real place in the 3D realm? Absolutely not. I actually really enjoyed a lot of their recent titles, but if Sega hopes to have its mascot on the top again, it needs to have a real masterpiece. They just need to stay true to the fast and furious roots of the SOnic franchise, but understand that people really loved that certain difficulty curve and amazing stage design (with a hint of strategy because it can’t just all be about the running). I don’t think Sonic Colours is that masterpiece, but it certainly is the step in the right direction that is bringing them closer and closer to reaching that mountaintop.