For years now, we've been praying for a truly great 3D Sonic game. One that would take us back to the (relative) glory days of Sonic Adventure 2 Battle on the GameCube. Sonic Unleashed came agonisingly close a couple of years ago, only for that ruddy werehog to come and ruin things. From what we've seen so far of Sonic Colours in action, it very much seems to us like the daytime levels of Sonic Unleashed without any of the rubbish werehog levels.
The new twist in Sonic Colours is the Wisps. Dr Eggman has opened up a theme park in space, using the Colour Power of these Wisps to help fuel it. But Eggman is also using the Wisps' power for something more evil than the odd waltzer ride, so Sonic heads into space to investigate. Sonic can collect different coloured wisps and use their powers.
The grey Wisps add to Sonic's boost meter. As in Sonic Unleashed, you hold the B button to make Sonic run at stupidly fast speeds. Once you run out of boost you'll need to pick up more grey Wisps. Boosting is just as fun as it was back in Sonic Unleashed, and it gives you a real sense of speed as the sides of the screen blur. It's also obviously helpful for completing the level as quickly as possible and gaining an S-Rank.
Blue Wisps let Sonic charge up an extremely fast laser spin attack and they work in a slightly similar way to the Rock Mario power-up in Super Mario Galaxy 2 - you flick the Remote to start Sonic spinning, aim him with the Nunchuk's Control Stick, then let go and watch as he whizzes forward at a ridiculously fast speed, taking out anything in his way. Unlike Rock Mario, when Sonic uses the blue Wisp it's not possible to control him because he's far too fast. Aiming him is a lot easier because while he's charging up for the attack you get a sort of pointer showing you the direction he'll go in, but when you let go he fires off like a bullet rebounding off walls.
Our favourite so far are the yellow wisps though, which give Sonic the ability to use a drill and plough through the ground. Again, this is similar to the drill in Super Mario Galaxy 2 but this time you have complete control over what direction the drill goes. There are loads of hidden areas, power-ups and secret tunnels underground, which should make for more possible ways to finish a level than ever before.
A different Galaxy
You'll have noticed that Sonic's power-ups are strongly reminiscent of those in Super Mario Galaxy 2 and the game is set in space. Yet Sonic is at his best when he's borrowing from other games. The original Sonic was essentially Sega's answer to Super Mario Bros, and Sonic Adventure was its attempt at a Super Mario 64 for the Dreamcast. If this is Sega's attempt at doing Galaxy, let's just see where it goes.
From the two levels we've seen we're very impressed. The Tropical Resort level has loads of colourful, neon backdrops and looks very much like Flamingo Land if it was set on the Moon. The level layout also reminds us a lot of the Spagnolia levels in Sonic Unleashed, which is a very good thing indeed. Even better is the Sweet Mountain stage, which is a level made entirely of cakes and sweets. Loop-the-loops in the shape of donuts are genius, and when you drill through the ground you can see the many fruity layers that make up the cake you're standing on.
As for how the game plays, it's just like Sonic Unleashed's daytime stages. The action is fast, the levels are nice and long, there are loads of different routes through each level. Even the music's the same annoyingly catchy rubbish we're always ashamed to say we quite like. It seems that Sega is finally listening. The people who cried out for a 2D Sonic game are getting Sonic 4, and early signs show that this might well be the "Sonic Unleashed without Werehog bits" the 3D Sonic fans were longing for.
This is an edited version of a preview that appeared in the July issue of Official Nintendo Magazine. If you want more in-depth analysis, screenshots and interviews you can buy the back issue here.