PAX 2010 Sonic Colors Hands-On

PAX 2010 Sonic Colors Hands-On

I think they’ve finally got it.

That about sums up my second chance to play the game. They’ve cut the gimmicks, cut the fat, fixed the camera, tightened the controls, and done just about everything else you could ask of a development team. Indeed, I don’t even recall seeing any of the random frame rate chugging like in the E3 demo. The jumping feels perfect. The homing attack has been fine tuned to the point where using it will never accidentally send you careening off into a chasm. Controling Sonic feels great and fast, with no collision detection bugs or odd glitches. The endless chasms appear to be gone, and while the levels have so far proven easy enough to get through, it still takes some skill to play them well, just like in the classics.

The wisp power ups are also a sight for sore eyes. Replacing the endless gimmicks and alternate play styles of past 3D games, the wisps are not only non-intrusive, but are a true joy to use. Whether it’s blasting through a level as a rocket, drilling through a cake to find power ups and otherwise inaccessible areas, or floating above spikes to reach otherwise unreachable areas above, these little aliens are probably the best thing to happen to Sonic since the elemental shields. I’ve yet to encounter a wisp that didn’t add something to the experience. Sure, the creators have pointed out that you don’t need to use them, but why wouldn’t you? For the first time ever in a Sonic game, I think this game would be a lesser experience without these gimmicks.

Of course, things aren’t perfect. At times the game can feel a little too automatic, to the point where it restricts how much control you have over Sonic in certain areas where you need to  drift or sidestep. These moments are rare, and out of the three levels I’ve played they where most prevalent in the newest level, Planet Wisp. Sonic is also just a little too fast now. I personally preferred the speed in the E3 demo, but after I got used to it the extra speed didn’t detract from the experience. That said, there are far worse things I could complain about in the other 3D Sonics, even in the Adventure series.

When last I previewed this game, I said that this was the best 3D Sonic game since the Adventure series. Well now, I rescind that statement. This game will outdo the Adventure series. Just going by these three levels, I don’t see how it can’t. The game has superior level design, superior programming, far fewer bugs and glitches – I encountered none in the PAX demo – and the gimmicks are far, far superior. I haven’t even had a chance to check out the co-operative mode, which looks like it’s going to be an experience in and of itself. I can’t believe that this game is from the same team that brought us such disasters as Shadow the Hedgehog and Sonic and the Black Knight. I can’t believe, for the first time ever, I can whole heartedly recommend a 3D Sonic game, without warning about its flaws and things you need to “get over” to enjoy it. I can’t believe I can say with confidence, that those people who post the Sonic Cycle for every damn announcement, should cram it and buy it on day one.

Of course, while I’ve raised my expectations, Iizuka’s raised the stakes, claiming that the game will be equal to or better then the classic Genesis games. From my playtime, I am not yet ready to make that same claim. That’s the sort of thing even I refuse to say until I’ve played this game over at least a year’s time. We’ll see soon enough.

Don’t be reserved. Don’t be cautious. Sonic Colors is a great game. Come November, go buy it. Sonic is back.

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Nuckles87 has been an editor at Sonic Stadium since 2007, and has been covering events like E3, PAX, and SDCC since 2010. An avid retro gamer, he runs a monthly stream on Twitch where he explores obscure Sonic oddities, and how aspects of the franchise have evolved over the decades.


  1. Wow, that’s the most positive preview I’ve read on a 3D Sonic game for a long time. I’m hoping that this game is better then the Adventure games, too.

  2. Wow, this is pretty fascinating. The opening level is more nicer than before, especially the second act. Glad to see that the Homing Attack and camera fixed to their true self. I can’t wait to play this on both versions once I got my pre-order are prepared for shipping when it’s out.

  3. Don’t be reserved. Don’t be cautious. Sonic Colors is a great game. Come November, go buy it. Sonic is back.
    I love that quote and yes I am getting this game

  4. Sonic doesn’t get to be back until he consistently becomes Super Sonic in regular gameplay. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it 😐

  5. @Aquaslash: Sonic 4. Then again, that’s like recommending AIDS over perfect health. =P

    This preview has sold the game for me.

  6. Wow.
    Man, I just feel happy right now.
    They finally did it.
    After 16 years, they finally made a 3D Sonic game without any crazy idea to the whole game and let a huge big BUT appear in every review.
    Thank you Sonic Team. This just made my decade.

  7. “Sonic is back”
    wow, I really mean WOW!
    I knew that one day Sega would make another great Sonic game, but one that OUT RANKS THE ADVENTURE SERIES!?! It really could be as good as the classics! (or, dare I say it, maybe even better!).
    I really have to show this to my friend who thinks Sonic is dead… HE’S BACK! 😀

  8. It’s not that Sonic’s too fast now. It’s that the player is too slow! 😀 It takes skill. xD

    Hmm, considering Takashi said EQUAL to the classics games or better, I think he could be right. Could be just opinion-based. I mean, I think people will refuse to admit that whether it is or not, just for the sake of the classics being classic. xD But from the looks of it, it seems far superior and a lot more “Exciting”. =P

    But so far so good. I find it easy to belief the game is just right. xD The bad games are the reason for this. It’s just like why Eggman used monsters. So what if he failed to control them? He’s a scientist. Never give up. Keep trying until you’ve figured it out, fix this time what you messed up last time. =)

    The only thing that could make this game better is if it were more like the Adventure series in style but with everything else being just as good as it is in Sonic Colors. That’d be something. lol

  9. True, nostalgia alone may keep Colors from “beating” the classics. I fear that’s how some people may be when they compare this to the Adventure series.

  10. I’m ready to replace Sonic Adventure 2 as my favorite Sonic game. I can’t wait to read all the positive reviews this game gets upon release!

  11. Woah that’s impressive! Though it’s a balsy thing to say. I really do want this to live up to the expectations. I really do. I’m so excited for this game it isn’t even funny!

  12. This…this just sounds way too good to be true. ;~;

    I hope that this game continues to keeps receiving this positive feedback from people after the game comes out.

    Then the people who says that Sonic can’t work in 3D can finally shove it.

  13. Don’t you think that your preview is a bit too hopeful?

    I mean, the practical reason of why Sonic Colors is good is because of the heavy emphasis of 2-D game play within the game itself. Sonic Jam was the first game to put Sonic into a fully 3-dimensional area and still retain its game play. One thing’s for sure, I had a total blast playing the sonic world maybe more than most 3-D games.

    While I myself am still excited for colors, Sonic Team should step it up and make a fully 3-D game without those 2-D areas and still have it be good. Then I would be impressed.

  14. Now If only this game had chaos… then I would agree but there was so much content in sonic adventure 2. I can’t say its better… I don’t see giant fairs wheels chasing after sonic lol. Would be neat if in one of the sweet mountain zone acts he starts off on a snow board down a slope and does crazy turns and tricks and then blasts the board into a wall and he starts zooming into the air to the next part of the zone or maybe have that for the end and have the snow board free the whisps.

  15. [quote]I mean, the practical reason of why Sonic Colors is good is because of the heavy emphasis of 2-D game play within the game itself. Sonic Jam was the first game to put Sonic into a fully 3-dimensional area and still retain its game play. One thing’s for sure, I had a total blast playing the sonic world maybe more than most 3-D games.[/quote]

    …..not really, no. The game’s good because of it’s clever level design, which emphasizes BOTH 3D and 2D.

  16. Now this is sounding good. If only I could test the demo in order to really see how it plays for myself, I find it hard to personally judge a sonic game by footage alone. Still, if we’re finally getting a good 3d Sonic I’m extremely pleased. I’ve been waiting since Adventure 2 for something like this.

  17. @Personguy…dude just buy the game and have fun. You’re asking Sonic Team to put Sonic in a “Super Mario 64” type of environment (fully 3D). Not only do I think it’s a bad idea, but even if they pulled it off it would be broken, uninteresting, not enough room for a sense of speed, camera would be awful…too many problems would arise. I’ve seen many people try to do what you’re talking about and I can’t watch it for long because it’s not fun to look at. Sonic Colors is fully 3D, what you want is a “Giant Sandbox”. I like the Sonic Colors formula better.

  18. @sonicfan1984
    You’d think so, but that won’t happen. They should ALREADY since the complaints over Sonic are EXAGGERATED anyways. lol

    The game isnt’ great because of the 2D areas. It’s great because of how fluidly Sonic can move while doing things that are fun. 2D sections are needed for a Sonic game if you think about it. Even the Adventure series had a LITTLE. Think about it. Which looks better? Seeing Sonic run through a loop from the side? Or with the camera following him from being the entire time like in these terrible 3D fan games?

    The Boost is inserted as a power-up with the White Wisp though still works on it’s own gauge. The Spin-Dash works with the Pink Wisp when you use Spike to roll up walls and on ceilings. =)

  19. as for me, if they made Sonic’s gameplay the way it was, made the boost not automatically destroy things in front of you (calling for more maneuvering) and thus game us the spin dash in order to blast through robots with mere speed…

    Then all I’d need is at LEAST Tails, Knuckles and Shadow to have gameplay. Less levels than Sonic, optional to play rather than being required to reach the climax (thus making their story perspectives like extras) and giving Shadow his SA2 gameplay (only advanced of course) Knuckles his Adventure series gameplay minus the treasure hunting (like the old days almost) and do the same with Tails’ SA gameplay minus the racing objective and I’d be good.

    Then get a non-crap story like Unleashed had and do something good like the Adventure series.

    Seriously, all that is like MILD advancements from Sonic Colors! So mild it could be in the next mainstream game. xD Otherwise, I agree with Nuckles. How can you see pretty much everything about the gameplay, know how it works and that it’s supposedly quite responsive, and not have the common sense to already be able to judge it’s greatness by merely looking at it? XD lol

  20. I was going to get the game anyway but now I feel really happy to hear that the game might be better than SA,SA2 and ever classic Sonic games.

  21. My Birthday is in november but i would have to wait a week but till then i can test it out! cause i live in north america so it comes on on the 16th but i have to wait a week. 😀 at least ill get it.

  22. I wish there would be other playable characters beside play as Sonic only in Sonic Colors DS.
    Knuckles and Shadow should be playable in story mode.
    And Tails and Amy would be unlockable in muitiplayer mode.

  23. I love how Sonic starts in the begining. jumps around a bit, streches, and then BOOM hes off. It looks beautiful. Can’t wait to play this.

  24. Is Sonic has his girlfriend, Amy now since Sonic Chronicles?
    They would have a date right now since Sonic and the Black Knight.
    Is that true that SEGA would keep going on Sonic and Amy as the offical couple now?

  25. @ Ryan
    Thing is, Sonic may have feelings for her (or not), but Sonic loves to be free like the wind so no they’re not.
    Anyway this isn’t important, gameplay matters and here Sonic Colours looks great.

  26. Actually by the looks of it Sonic Unleashed for the 360 and PS3 was quite a bit faster than this. THAT was too fast. It took multiple tries just to successfully get through a level without dieing. Those levels were less about skill and more about somewhat tedious memorisation. That said though, they were still pretty dang fun to play even if you died loads (I’m looking at you Adabat).

    I think the speed in this is just right. But hey I haven’t played the game so to be honest your call means more than mine.

  27. Well, yes, this game is still slower then Unleashed, but the game was even slower at E3 and that speed felt perfect because I had more control over the character, even during boosting.

  28. @ Ryan: I’m not sure if Sonic loves Amy, but you know what Sonic is SEGA’s mascot and one of the most popular character in the world, don’t you think it’s odd that he doesn’t have a girlfriend.

    Anyway, gameplay is what important, but if Sonic has or going to have a girlfriend then I’m sure it’s Amy.

  29. Ax :
    I completly agree..
    You need a nice cast of characters along side Sonic ^-^
    Tails, shadow, Knuckles (:
    Strong and popular characters

  30. SO it takes a 3D game for people to say “Sonic’s back”? Sigh, this fucking fanbase, I swear.

    But no, I’m getting Colors anyways along with 4.

  31. And So the Sonic Cycle turns on!!! next comes the terrible reviews, and the broken hearts!

    ah, can you hear the gears turning?

  32. KjrinKA2: Did you even read a single word of that article. Especially the line about “cramming it and buying the game on launch day”?

  33. I’m afraid you conveniently skipped step two of the cycle where new friends and game play styles are revealed and hope hits the ground. Nice try though :P. It’s broken.

  34. I think KjrinKA2 is trolling.
    If the game doesn’t recieve terrible reviews from fans and critics then you can take that ‘Sonic Cycle’ and shove it.

  35. Hi guys guess what I found when ken anouced that sega of america its about sonic 4 they said that by next week they are going to tell when sonic 4’s release date and price

  36. I’m very excited to hear this. Especially after DreadKnux’s comments about the awesome writing so far. For once, a console game that won’t make me ashamed to be a Sonic fan!

  37. …Though the oft-spurned Sonic fan in me is still waiting for Sega to reveal Big the Cat’s Tax-Filing minigame which is actually more than half the game.

  38. If Sonic Colors turns out to be as great as people are making it out to be, I wonder how long it will take for SEGA to graduate from the 2.5D gameplay portions and create a new, full-3D Sonic game.

  39. Again with the whining about “Shadow the Hedgehog,” which, if I may say so, wasn’t half as bad as “Secret Rings” and the Werehog portions of “Unleashed.”

    I’ve said time and time again that I’m overjoyed to have Sonic back in the game (yeah, yeah, it’s a great pun) and ready to rock. That accompanied with the premiere of Harry Potter and the new My Chemical Romance album makes this November a midteen’s dream! XD

    No, but seriously, I love all of these things and will be buying them on their release. Ticket to Potter, Sonic, and My Chem.

    The things I did notice were the rail portions being a bit automatic. Back in Adventure and Heroes, aside from the controls being indecent, the rail bits were a ton of fun, especially in the Heroes stages based around the rail mechanic. “Unleashed” looks to have had the same rail system as “Colors,” but as long as it works well, I suppose I can’t complain.

    I’m a little annoyed that a co-op exists, but not a race mode, as far as I’ve heard. I absolutely love “Sonic and Tails” as well as “Adventure 2: Battle” for the quality multiplayer modes. I suppose that if the co-op in “Colors” is good enough, I won’t miss racing.

    Another thing with “Unleashed” was the utter lack of enemies, which seems to have been fixed in some areas of “Colors,” but one of the things I liked about “Heroes” and “Shadow” was a common thread of massive amounts of enemies. “Unleashed” had next to none, werehog levels aside.

    Camera’s fixed; that’s nice. The view in “Unleashed” irked me sometimes; I’ve always preferred the higher angle.

    A warning icon for zipping around or whatever you’d call it on a technical basis? Interesting; definitely useful.

    Is that you running around as the stage has ended? WIN. Haven’t seen that since…Well, technically, Sonic Adventure, where a second controller could move Tails, but it’s something that was consistent in the earlier games, of course. Love it.

    I cannot stress enough how much I love the opening, how Sonic just zooms into action like that. In “Unleashed,” there was the weird…whatever that was where you could spindash at the right time and get a speedboost…I’ve only ever been able to do that once, and it was an accident. After I kept falling over (which was clever, sure, but annoying), I quit trying.

    Looks like walking is easier? That’s cool. Sometimes, I enjoy just looking at things, which was admittedly difficult in “Unleashed” – though there wasn’t much to see after you’d memorized all the textures. I hear “Black Knight” looked fantastic, but I never had the time to check. XD

    I noticed a lot of stuff falling over in Act 2, which is always a joy. The rocket wisp looks pretty cool and I’m already itching to try out the laser wisp. Epic freefall moment around 5:55.

    I saw a lot of places you *didn’t* get to, and that excites me; multiple paths and whatnot. We all love the originals for it, and the “Advance” games had the feature as well.

    Each of these videos gets me pumped for this release. Sonic is BAAACK!

  40. YES!!!! A really good 3D Sonic game that EVERYONE can enjoy.

    To be honest, the only 3D Sonic games I liked and STILL like were Sonic Adventure 1 & 2, Sonic Heroes, and Sonic Unleashed (or the daytime stages at the very least).

    I KNOW I’m going to love this game. No crazy gimmick that doesn’t work, no glitches, well-polished/beautiful levels, catchy music (except for the main theme *shudder*). Plus, the levels are designed so that you don’t have to use the wisp power-ups (but why wouldn’t you!? I can’t wait to use the drill and the spike powerups).

    It’s already looking foward to this. We’ve already been shown seven worlds with 5-6 acts and a boss each and STILL nothing to fuck this game up. Hell, what can fuck this game up!? Even if they make us required to collect those red rings to move on with the storyline (like the medals in Unleashed), at least I would actually have 100% fun with it, and not like Unleashed where most of the medals were in the Werehog Stages.

    Of course, I’m not going to go on saying the famous and overused “SONIC IS BACK” crap, because that’s for the critics to decided. But hey, even if they call this game trash for any bullshit reason at all, I’ll still buy this on day one.

    It looks too damn fun!

  41. I PREORDERED IT!!!!!!!!!! I’m glad that Sonic Colors is getting good reviews. Oh yeah, when are we going to see some leaked footage of the DS version? I preordered that vesion, and I heard no info on it.

  42. Yeah, the Wii version seems to be getting alot more attention then the DS version. The DS version looks badass from the few clean gameplay footage I’ve seen of it. It looks like a Sonic Rush game with the wisp powerups and if you love Sonic Rush then you will love the DS version.

  43. Well, thanks. I love Sonic Rush and Adventure, so i think that this will be a definete keeper.

  44. @Anon: Yeah, nice try. But that ‘Sonic is dead folks, get over it” is not going to work this time now that we have a potentially good/decent Sonic game on our hands. Any good reason why you think it’s crap or this is a bad attempted at trolling? And no, don’t even use that “It’s a 3D game and all 3D Sonic games are bad!” excuse.
    Who should we rather listen to right now: The overwhelmingly amount of positive previews of people AND critics who’ve played this game and is impressed with it (so far there hasn’t been any bad previews for it so far) or a stupid troll who haven’t played the game at all and saying it’s crap?

  45. Oh yeah, and don’t tell us to ‘Get over it’. He might be dead to you but not to us. If he’s dead to you then what the hell are you doing on a Sonic fansite anyway or do you simply enjoy wallowing in bitterness?

    Anyway, looking forward to Sonic Colors. This will be the first time in a long time that I’m really confident in a 3D Sonic game and this is probably the most well-received Sonic game before release. 😀

  46. Don’t feed the trolls.

    This game is looking great, and looks like lots of fun! Can’t wait to get it!

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