Preview: Sonic Colors

Here's the thing: I'm hesitant to say anything good about an upcoming Sonic game, because we all know we've been disappointed so many times by the franchise. Sega's been chasing after a super fast, graphically gorgeous, inventive and fun Sonic platformer for so long that whenever it promises yet another new Sonic title, it's very, very hard to believe that it might end up finally being that game.

Just according to the odds, I'm going to guess that Sonic Colors still isn't that game, but Sega has been trying very hard, over and over again, to do it right. Sonic Colors looks good, albeit with reservations.
Here are the highlights:
  • Sonic doesn't talk. There are no conversations or text screens -- just Sonic running around a lot, very quickly. The game was described to me by a developer as, "Sonic Unleashed minus everything but the running," and that seemed an apt description, as Sonic races over huge walkways, bounces off of springs, and homes in on enemies, combo-ing them them in groups if timed exactly right.
  • The cast is kept to a minimum. Well, the "colors" could be counted as friends, I guess, but they're really just power-ups, activated by waggling the Wiimote. In the part I played, Sonic hit a yellow color creature, and waving the remote turned him into a drill that had him digging in any direction across a 2D plane, seeking out secret stashes of rings in the giant environment. A green color creature creates a laser that will aim Sonic and then launch him back out into the level.
  • It's fast. Sonic Adventure fast. The levels I played were bright and colorful, one long sprint of dodging and jumping and Sonic doing what he does best.
  • I was told that there wasn't a hub world, but there was definitely a map screen, showing off a series of planets in space from which Sonic could visit and access levels. In fact, my first reaction to seeing the game was: "Sonic Galaxy." That's not a bad thing, right?
It seems like it would be hard for Sega to keep up the frantic pace in the levels I saw for an entire game. Sonic raced across a huge world with multiple paths in the few stages I played, and it'd be tough to keep that varied and interesting over an entire game. And at one point, Sonic lifted a gimmick from Super Mario Galaxy, facing a giant boss that appeared in the center of the screen, while he ran and dodged attacks in 360 degrees around the outside.

Also, as seen in the announcement trailer, Tails will be in the game. I didn't see him in the part I played at all, though, so his role could be minimal, or he could simply be an alternate character.

Sonic Colors could still go either way. There was fun to be had in the preview demo, but given that there were only a few levels to play, it's hard to tell if it's representative of the game at large. I can say this, though: Even if Sega hasn't found the game it's looking for (and the one we all want to play), it seems like the series is finally headed in the right direction. Then again, with the way the series has been going lately, there might not be any way to go but up.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.