Sonic Colors: Final Thoughts

The thing about Sonic Colors is that I have no idea how good I am at it.

I mean, I beat it and everything. I saw every level and got a bunch of As and Bs for my rankings. But I’m not sure if that’s due to my skill, because for much of the experience it seemed like the game was playing itself. People moan and groan about games like Metal Gear Solid or JRPGs trying to pretend to be movies, but you’ve got something like Sonic Colors which (refreshingly, given this series) has no pretenses in that direction, yet still manages to be an on-rails, autopilot kind of game.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s loads of fun to watch Sonic zip through the levels, and it’s really evocative of the Genesis games, no so much in how they play but in how we envision they played. It’s a kaleidoscopic rollercoaster of a game. However, sometimes it feels like it’s impossible to lose, even if you leave the game for a few minutes to fix up a sandwich. Dying is effectively a non-issue, since there are checkpoints all over the place and each level is only a few minutes long at best. Sonic can homing attack from practically across the screen and it’s trivial to become almost invincible at any moment. The game is actually full of situations that are kind of bullshitty — untelegraphed drops, surprise enemy placement, points of no return, paths and items that are only visible after you can no longer reach them — but because the penalty for failure is so light, it never annoys in a way that a game like Donkey Kong Country Returns sometimes can.

And I’m not sure how I feel about that, honestly. I’m not the sort of super-hardcore gamer who needs constant abuse to feel engaged in his games, and I’m all for games that make the complex seem easy, but Sonic Colors feels content to let me sleepwalk through it, and there’s little satisfaction in conquering such a game. It’s for that reason that I didn’t bother collecting all the little doodads and extras that are part and parcel of the platforming experience these days. In New Super Mario Bros. Wii and DKC Returns, I couldn’t rest until I’d collected every miscellaneous object littered throughout the game, but with Sonic Colors going back for red rings seemed almost like too much trouble.

I bet it would be fun to set aside a week or so and spend it getting S-ranks on every level and collecting all the red rings, but I simply wasn’t in the mood for it right now.

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