Sonic Colors Ultimate is my favorite disappointment, and nostalgia is to blame


I grew up on a lot of different video games, but one prevalent franchise from my childhood was Sonic. I would play the original Sonic Adventure—not the Sonic Adventure 2 though—Sonic Unleashed for the Wii, and Sonic Rush Advanced on my 3DS along with Sonic Lost Worlds.

But the most important one was Sonic Colors. I loved that game because, frankly, it was great. The music was the best of any Sonic game, consisting of a live orchestra with mixes of tech in it. The levels were unique, and the worlds were themed for fun.

If you can’t tell, I am extremely nostalgic for this game, so when I found out about the announcement of an HD remake with revamped music, I was elated. I even pre-ordered with the promise of the game being available early for those who preordered. 

So I waited for the fateful day, checking the Epic Games Store biweekly. Finally, as I was checking Twitter, I saw it. Trending for you: ‘Sonic’ and ‘Nintendo Switch.’ I immediately started installing the game.

Now, I can’t say I wasn’t curious as to exactly why those two were trending, so I checked further into it. Supposedly, the game was a colorful, glitchy mess that I think might be able to cause seizures. In one moment my excitement turned to dread. Could my favorite childhood game be this broken and horrible?

Nonetheless, I launched the game. A few logos went by, and I still feared for what could be. A piano started playing as a cutscene began. The techno main theme had been rearranged into a beautiful orchestra with a visual experience of the same caliber.

If you know me, you might know that I’m a bit jaded, but in that one moment, I had the stupidest smile on my face. In that one moment, the game won my heart, and I hadn’t pressed a single button. But I wondered, would the game hold up to the memory of it?

After launching the game, it displayed the true opening cutscene explaining the plot. It’s not very noticeable, but the graphics in the cutscenes are slightly better than the original, which I appreciated. This initial cutscene gave exposition to where the game takes place. The worlds follow Sonic tropes, but the logic between the worlds makes sense, as the whole game takes place in a massive interstellar amusement park.

The game does not hold back with these eclectic worlds; I mean, one is called Sweet Mountain, and it’s a nightmare for someone who doesn’t like sweets. Some of the other worlds include Asteroid Coaster—the name says it all; Starlight Carnival—a grand trip through space and subsequently spaceships; Planet Wisp—combining nature and deforestation; and Aquarium Park—a Japanese inspired aquarium.

Each world has about six levels, three that are traditional 3D Sonic levels and three that are short 2D ones. The best part about this is that in the first half of the world, the game plays the remixed songs, while later playing their original variants

The remixes are at best questionable. I loved some of them, but others were just there. I think a lot of the time, the remixes were simply a change of style, for neither better or worse. The remixes would turn a brass synth into nothing similar.

While the music was heavily remixed in at least new and interesting ways, the gameplay kept the same. It follows the typical formula for a modern Sonic game and doesn’t really change much from the original on Wii, but that’s not bad.

The game is a faithful recreation of the original. The levels are fluid and unique, so why change it? The game just had fun with level design, and that stays true with the remake. The only problems with the gameplay I had were that sometimes when I wanted to do a double jump, I did a homing attack because they are bound to the same button.

The biggest differences between the two would be the removal of the life system, which removes the arbitrary challenge of restarting a level and adding a new wisp. The wisps are aliens that all have unique abilities—such as turning into a drill, being able to hover, or being a cube.

The new wisp is the jade ghost, which turns you pseudo-incorporeal and lets you teleport to enemies while making you intangible. It fits in really well with the other wisps but doesn’t really add much to the game

The settings have also improved tremendously. The game has customizable controls, but not all the new settings are good. This issue I’m about to share is my biggest grievance for the game: why is there no music setting? There’s only one  that controls both music and sound effects, but the SFX are so much louder than the music.

While the colorful mess that I’d been promised didn’t faze me, the game was not free of glitches. Once, I fell through the floor at the start of a mission, which wasn’t that bad because it only happened once, but I would have been mad if it had happened later in a  level. 

Some examples would be turning into a drill, being able to hover, or being a cube.

Overall, the game is still the one I loved as a kid, but nostalgia blinds me and makes it hard for me to like this one more. I like the new music, but I can’t say it is better. I can acknowledge the graphics look better, but only in comparison did I truly notice. The new gameplay additions make the game better than any other rendition of the game, but it doesn’t really feel like any new additions were made. Sonic Colors Ultimate is my favorite disappointment, and I have nostalgia to blame.