Sonic Colours Ultimate (Switch) Review
Patch Notes 19/9: Sonic Colours Ultimate on the Switch received a patch a couple of days ago, addressing some of the bugs that have been troubling Sonic fans. After playing the game for a few hours we can confirm that Sonic Colours Ultimate does run smoother now, at least in our experience playing the newly patched game.
The review below remains as it was when first published.
Everyone’s favourite hedgehog is back with a shiny, new coat of paint. Sonic has had his fair share of hits and misses in the past but Sonic Colours Ultimate delivers a decently well-rounded Sonic experience. Ultimate revamps the original while offering a handful of new features sure to impress both old and new fans of the blue blur. And yes, there’s some nasty bugs going around, but we’ll touch on that in a minute…
When it first released for the Wii back in 2010, Sonic Colours was seen as a turning point for Sonic, following years of gimmicks and genre-hopping. Sega attempted to bring Sonic back to his roots, tightening focus on classically speedy platforming with a core cast of characters centre stage. And though it’s since been overshadowed by the acclaimed games that it paved the way for, like Sonic Generations and Sonic Mania, Sonic Colours still holds an important place in the evolution of the Sonic franchise. So what better way to catch up on some Sonic history than with Sonic Colours Ultimate.
Sonic Colours Ultimate sees Sonic speeding through Dr. Eggman’s colourful, new intergalactic amusement park, attempting to foil his regularly scheduled evil scheme and rescuing the local alien lifeforms, known as Wisps. Freeing a Wisp from Eggman will have them appear in-level to grant Sonic special powerups, opening up alternate routes or letting you nab otherwise unreachable collectibles. There are nine Wisps altogether, which grant Sonic abilities ranging from tunnelling through solid ground, to launching you through the stratosphere like a rocket. Half or so of the Wisp powerups will keep you at a breakneck pace while traversing a level, such as the drill, spike ball and laser, while others will slow you right down for a little bit of collecting and score multiplying.
The beauty of the Wisps is that they are more or less optional in any given level. This means you can skip the collectible-centric Wisp powerups in one run and blast to the end for a quick finish time, then come back for a second run and grab every Ring, hidden Red Star Ring and Park Token you can find. If you want to achieve an S-rank on a level however, you’ll have to master both speedy Wisps and collect-y Wisps simultaneously. And when you’ve unlocked all nine Wisps the game really picks up steam. Going back to levels you’ve already completed with new Wisps unlocked will present new paths you hadn’t spotted before, and levels with multiple Wisps will have you zooming around while making snap-decisions on the fly. You can even go minimalist, and play levels Wisp-less if you wanted to! Sonic Colours Ultimate offers a lot of flexibility which is sure to be appreciated by the Sonic aficionados of the world.
Being a remaster, Sonic Colours Ultimate has some nifty changes and additions on show. There’s the obvious graphical enhancements, and the game looks great. The world of Sonic Colours is brilliantly vibrant and detailed, and Ultimate is really able to show this off with the new high definition graphics. The Switch version unfortunately doesn’t support 60 FPS unlike the other console ports, as is to be expected, but it’s a gorgeous game nonetheless. The newly remixed soundtrack is also superb – the tracks had us bopping along and they are sure be stuck in our heads for weeks now.
There’s also some gameplay tweaks and additions which modernise Sonic Colours even further. The original game’s lives system has been removed, and thank goodness because we would’ve seen a Game Over screen more times than we’d care to admit. You now have infinite retries, and lives have been replaced with collectible Tails tokens, wherein Tails can save you from falling to your death, dropping you at the closest safe spot and taking one token as payment. Metal Sonic also makes an appearance, in the form of Rival Rush mode. After collecting enough Red Star Rings in a world Metal Sonic will appear in one of the levels for an optional head-to-head race, for those looking for an extra challenge. Though this is more or less just a time trial mode, you can get some neat aesthetic unlocks for beating him. Speaking of, Sonic Colours Ultimate introduces some customisation into the mix. Spending the new collectible Park Tokens will net you some fun, if not basic skin options like coloured shoes, gloves, auras and boosts. One last noteworthy addition to Ultimate is the new Jade Wisp powerup. While it is one of the slower-paced Wisp abilities, warping through walls in a Sonic game is a handy feature.
Now we’ve gotta address the blue elephant in the room – there’s a lot of talk about serious issues specifically on the Switch version of the game. We’ve experienced one ourselves, involving the camera going haywire and an infinitely looping sound effect. Luckily this sorted itself out upon a quick restart, but there have been reports online of much more heinous bugs, and it’s quite annoying to see in a game of this calibre, let alone a remaster. That said Katie Chrzanowski, Sega of America’s social media manager, tweeted that Sega is ‘listening and assessing for an upcoming patch’ for the game so fingers crossed these issues are addressed sometime soon.
Aside from the bugs, there’s some other things that work against Sonic Colours Ultimate – as polished and tweaked as it has been, this is far from a perfect game. The Tails save feature will often respawn you in the most inopportune spot possible. Sonic will regularly do a homing-attack when you want him to double-jump and vice versa. The in-game achievements are way too big and stay on the screen far too long, covering up the level or cutscenes; cutscenes which did not get remastered and have been ripped straight from the Wii. And please don’t condemn me, Sonic fans, but the one-hit, ring-based health system feels so outdated and had me pulling out my hair. Or perhaps the game is just sloppy; who’s to say.
At the end of the day, Sonic Colours Ultimate does offer a decent Sonic adventure. Everything you’d expect from a modern Sonic game is here: speeding through different acts, alternate pathways, hidden collectibles, great design, and, yes, unbalanced gameplay and a couple of bugs. If you’re a hedgehog diehard, Sonic Colours Ultimate is most definitely worth a look, but if you aren’t, then take this one with a blue grain of salt.
+ Beautifully colourful intergalactic worlds in HD and an amazing remixed OST
+ A broad range of Wisp powerups (including one new one) really open up the game
+ Gracefully speeding through an act any way you choose still feels great
- Slower levels and Wisp powerups put the brakes on a bit too much
- Unfortunately unbalanced gameplay
- Glitches that will hopefully be patched very soon