“Sonic Colors Ultimate” is a bit too colorful


Photo via Sonic Stadium

I don’t think it would be a stretch to call the ‘Sonic The Hedgehog’ series the punching bag of the gaming industry. Ever since 2006 with the release of ‘Sonic 06,’ the series has garnered a poor reputation, brushed off as trying too hard to be edgy or dark. Though I do disagree with those claims, what I don’t deny is the fact that some of those mid-to-late 2000s games were awful, whether it be the abysmally controlling “Sonic and The Secret Rings,” or the tryhard mature “Shadow The Hedgehog,” where a cartoon hedgehog wields a gun.

Yet, at the end of the train wreck of the 2000s came 2010’s “Sonic Colors,” an admittedly short but fun game, focused on gameplay over story, and creating vibrant, unique locations that only the Sonic series could successfully pull off. The game was actually the first video game I purchased for myself, so I have a lot of nostalgia for the game. 

Imagine my excitement when Sega announced “Sonic Colors Ultimate,” a modern remaster of the 2010 Wii classic. I was beyond excited and counted down the days until its release on Sept. 7. I would be able to relive my beloved childhood game in HD at 60 frames per second and with added content.

Then, imagine my sheer disappointment when the game came out and revealed itself to be a glitchy, ugly mess.

Right from the get go, it is apparent that many areas of the game appear much darker than they did back on the Wii. Dark areas appear darker than they have before, shrouded in shadows, and areas that weren’t intended to be dark now have their lights turned off. This issue is especially egregious in the first stage, Tropical Resort, leaving for a sour first impression. Sonic’s character model is also updated, but it’s far too bright. It reflects much more light than it’s probably supposed to and makes him appear as if he’s glowing. It comes as no surprise that I prefer how the game looks on the Wii.

However, those are graphics, and they are subjective. Graphics shouldn’t matter as long as the game is fun to play. While yes, Sonic is just as fun to control as he was in the original, the game is distractingly glitchy, detracting from the experience. One of the biggest issues is the audio mixing — sounds being much louder than the music and sometimes glitching and not playing at all. Sounds will bounce between the right and left ear when playing with headphones in a poor attempt to simulate surround sound, leading to a frankly nauseating experience. Too bad the sound effect and music volume are on the same slider in the options menu. 

Graphical glitches are everywhere, too. Smoke in the stage Planet Wisp will flicker in the air. Fish in the stage Aquarium Park also flicker. A ferris wheel in Tropical Resort vanishes before it’s even off screen. Shortly after the game’s release, it was revealed that the Nintendo Switch version, which already had longer load times and a reduced frame rate, had a large variety of seizure-inducing visual glitches ranging from Sonic’s character model stretching to appear more like a manta ray than a hedgehog, or potentially seizure-inducing bright flashing colors blinding the player. The photo featured above isn’t even the worst of it. The seizure-inducing glitches have been patched from the game since then, but the damage has been done, and those glitches should not have been in the game in the first place.

Then, what of the new content? I can’t say any of it is particularly worthwhile. A new bit of content flaunted in Colors Ultimate are the park tokens — little collectibles you can use in a shop for cosmetics. Besides the boost trail Sonic leaves behind when blazing through stages, none of them are worthwhile, being too small to see in many scenarios since they only change his gloves and shoes. The game also features a Rival Rush mode, where the player gets to race the series rival, Metal Sonic. He’s nothing to be impressed by either, as he’s set on one singular path run by the developers and sometimes stutters as a consequence of yet more glitches. The user interface for the Rival Rush mode is also terrible, as it pops up suddenly without any sound or animation, almost like a 2000’s pop-up advertising local singles in your area.

“Sonic Colors Ultimate” is a massive disappointment in just about every aspect, and an embarrassing release from Sega. The game was released in an unfinished, broken state, and all it has truly going for it is the higher resolution, frame rate and accessibility on modern consoles. What new content the remake brings to the table is superfluous at best, and detrimental at worst. Truly, the real ultimate version of Sonic Colors was the one we’ve had on the Wii since 2010.