Even though it’s been 11 years since I first played Sonic Colors on Wii, playing Sonic Colors: Ultimate was like seeing an old friend and feeling like no time had passed at all. Once the start screen showed me Sonic and the Wisps running in ultra-high definition on PC, I knew I was in for a treat.
As far as gameplay goes, it’s exactly the same as the original, which is great! One of the biggest features added to Sonic Colors: Ultimate is a new Wisp that lets you transform into the Jade Ghost. The Jade Ghost made its first appearance in 2019’s Team Sonic Racing, but now Sega’s bringing the Jade Wisp back to Sonic Colors, where Wisps were first introduced. In this form you can fly through walls to access new areas with extra rings and attack enemies. I love all the Wisps because they’re what makes Sonic Colors’ gameplay so varied and fun to begin with.
Sonic Colors: Ultimate Screenshots
When you’re viewing the world map of Doctor Eggman’s Incredible Interstellar Amusement Park you’ll see the new Options Satellite floating around the southwest corner. Here is where you’ll be greeted with new menus to customize Sonic, view the list of in-game achievements, track Super Sonic progress, stats, and more. You can collect Park Tokens just like rings, and they can be exchanged for new gloves, shoes, and even custom boost trails for Sonic. In my 30 minutes of playtime, I was able to collect the seven Park Tokens I needed to unlock green shoes for Sonic. They have all the basic colors you’d want, as well as fancier options like tie-dye and chrome-colored gloves. I was pleasantly surprised how natural it felt to have a slightly customized Sonic during speedy sections, however the color variations unfortunately do not show up in cutscenes.
The biggest update with Sonic Colors: Ultimate is a major visual upgrade. We’re getting a 4K resolution, 60 frames per second, and improved graphics all around. I’m happy to say that the gameplay looked great on the PC version I played on, but it was so crisp that it made the cutscenes look a little outdated by comparison. Don’t get me wrong – the cutscenes definitely look more polished, and I love all the screen time with Tails, but I found myself wanting to skip them and get back to the shiny new gameplay.
I was less impressed with the music. One of my absolute favorite things about Sonic games is the music – I still listen to the soundtrack to Sonic Adventure 2: Battle on repeat – so when I learned that Sonic Colors: Ultimate would have remixed versions of the original tracks I was a little nervous. Why fix something that isn’t broken? And yes, it was a bit of a letdown when I started playing my favorite planet from the original Sonic Colors, Sweet Mountain, and instead of its loud, hypnotic brass melody I heard a very muted, softer synth keyboard version. Of course, remixes will always be a personal taste, and maybe this new version will be someone’s favorite track the way the original was for me in the 2010 game.
I greatly enjoyed my opportunity to revisit an old favorite, and I’m really excited for Sonic Colors: Ultimate because I know it will be the first Sonic game for a lot of people. Sega must know this too, because while Sonic Colors has always been an excellent blend of 3D and 2D gameplay, it had a few quirks that could frustrate newcomers; in Sonic Colors: Ultimate, a few little things have been added to help people have a better time learning to play. For instance, there’s now a horizontal red light at the bottom of the screen with a “Game Over Sonic” warning sign to make sure you know you won’t survive falling off areas that are simply an abyss rather than a lower area of the level. It’s subtle, but it works, and it keeps me on my toes for the more slowed-down and precise platforming sections. Another fun change is that Sonic’s lives have been replaced with “Tail Saves,” which is exactly what it sounds like: if you lose all your rings or fall off an edge, Tails will come pick you up and get you right back on track.
I wasn’t able to try the new “Rival Rush” mode where you go head-to-head with Metal Sonic, but I’m excited for it! Being able to leave Metal Sonic in the dust is the quintessential Sonic storyline that I felt was missing from the original game. Grab your Doctor Eggman park tickets and I’ll see you on Sweet Mountain!