Sonic Colours provides something Sonic fans have been crying out for: a 3D game that isn't let down by an annoying gimmick.
The Colours storyline is typically mindless Sonic stuff. Eggman builds an intergalactic theme park. Sonic investigates and discovers he's using Wisps, space creatures with nifty powers, to carry out evil deeds.
At first glance, the space theme makes the structure seem like a tip of the hat to Super Mario Galaxy, when it actually has far more in common with the New Super Mario Bros. games. Each of the themed worlds on offer has seven or eight levels, which adds up to an impressive 60-odd stages. These vary greatly in length, from quickfire rounds lasting less than a minute to four- or five-minute epics on a similar scale to the daylight levels in Sonic Unleashed.
Indeed Sonic Colours recalls those daylight levels, from the pace and swooping camera angles to the switches from 2D to 3D, the need to slide under low gaps and the ability to give Sonic a ridiculous speed boost by holding down the B button.
Sonic Colours still has a gimmick, it's just that it doesn't ruin things this time. We're talking about the Wisps, Sonic's new power-ups. Each one gives Sonic a different power to use for a limited time. For example, the yellow Wisp turns him into a drill - handy for burrowing into the ground - while dark blue Wisps turn special dark-blue rings into blocks and vice versa, much like a P-switch does in New Super Mario Bros.
Will O' The Wisps
Enjoyment levels can fluctuate where the Wisps are concerned, however. Some, such as the yellow drill, are great fun. You'll have a blast manoeuvring Sonic through the dirt and underground passages at stupidly fast speeds. Others, such as the light-blue Wisps that transform Sonic into a laser, aren't implemented quite so well. But none are so badly-executed as to ruin the game and, crucially, they're rarely - if ever - essential to finish a level: you can completely ignore them if you want to.
As for the controls, they're more or less the same as in Sonic Unleashed. Running using the Nunchuk's analogue stick is really satisfying, and holding B to boost your speed while pressing A to jump is perfectly intuitive. Our only niggle is the way flicking the Remote activates the Wisp powers, although the game does support the Classic Controller, Classic Controller Pro and the good old GameCube controller.
It's not all good news. Some of the levels are poorly designed and contradict the core values that make a Sonic game fun. Like the level that has you standing on numerous switches to make a large platform inch its way s-l-o-w-l-y upwards. Sonic isn't really supposed to do things slowly, and when he does it shouldn't drag on for the best part of a whole level.
The stages in Colours aren't quite as enjoyable to race through as the likes of Spagonia and Apotos were in Sonic Unleashed but there are plenty of highlights, such as dashing through a big pile of popcorn and seeing it blast all over the place.
Multiplayer is another sore point. The bizarre two-player mode consists of a series of side-scrolling levels inside a giant arcade game. The result is a bit of a mess and nowhere near as fun as the multiplayer elements in New Super Mario Bros. Wii. So these levels aren't quite on a par with best of Unleashed, but we're very happy with lots of very good stages, rather than a few great ones mixed in with that Werehog rubbish.
Colours hits the jackpot for Sonic fans. It's one of his best 3D outings since the Dreamcast days.
This is an edited version of a review that appears in the December of Official Nintendo Magazine. For more in-depth analysis, screenshots and boxouts buy the magazine here.