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April 24, 2015

Sonic Colors (Part 1)

Guys, you are NOT gonna believe it! There’s, like, a giant amusement park that just opened! And it’s almost as big as the freaking country! Oh wait, it’s located in space, and the only way to access it is thanks to a LONG elevator! Still not enough? It also links multiple planets together! Oh, and here’s even better: It was built by an evil genius! Oh wait, it gets even better: He says he has reformed!

If you believed that, I’ve got an Olympic Stadium in Montreal to sell you. If you didn’t, however, congrats! You passed the… uh… “Nobody’s Gonna Pull My Leg” test. Your reward is… um… this funny video!

Seriously though, this nonsense story is the basic idea behind Eggman’s latest scheme in Sonic Colors. It’s so farfetched that I’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who would fall for th- Knuckles, get out of this elevator NOW! Only Sonic and Tails are going!

Yep, this game has a rather minimalist cast, using only Sonic and Tails as the good guys, and Eggman as the villain, with the only other characters (aside from enemies and bosses) being Eggman’s lackeys Orbot and Cubot and the game’s little helpful power-up friends… who are they? We’ll see in due time. Let’s-a go! Oh? I’m getting a paper saying I am not allowed to mimic Mario as long as I’m talking about a Sonic game that isn’t part of the Mario and Sonic series… Okay, well, let’s… go.

First off, that intro. Oh. My. God. This is a beautiful intro. This is going to be amazing. And the music is great, too! ♪♫ I’m gonna reach for the stars… ♪♫

Just the concept art makes me want to go there!
When you get to the main menu, you can choose whether or not you want a “guide”, voiced by Tails. Now that’s what I call a fully-voiced game! Of course, if you know the game, you can turn the guide off. The adventure starts in Tropical Resort and already, you can get the feel of the famed 3D Sonic games. Sonic can go to incredible speeds, he can jump and home in on enemies, by this point you know the drill. Sadly, I’ve gotten so used to the controls of Sonic and the Secret Rings that it takes me a while to get used to the controls in Sonic Colors. I know, that’s silly. I’m still shaking the Wiimote to home in on enemies, even if in Colors it’s actually done by pressing A. I should know the controls are different, I'm playing with the Wii remote and the Nunchuk! And since the game tosses us immediately into the levels of the first “world”, Tropical Resort, it’s the perfect time to see the particularities of the levels in this game:
What a treat for the eyes...
-Sometimes, they’ll switch between a 3D view and a 2D view, which is pretty cool (and understandable, since 3D parts are more “athletic” in nature, in that there’s more running and enemy-attacking, while the 2D parts are more centered around platforming, with multiple obstacles and sections where Sonic must carefully jump his way through).
-At the end of each level, you get a grade based on your performance. The faster you were, the more points you get; the more Rings you had at the end of the level, the more points you get, and so on. This has been a staple of the Sonic series since at least Sonic Adventure 1, so it’s not new, but it’s still great to try and beat your own time for every level.
-Also, every level contains 5 Red Star Rings. Those are special Rings that you won’t lose when you get hurt. They serve the same purpose as the Star Coins in the New Super Mario Bros. platformers. Getting all five in a level greatly increases your score, and once you’ve beaten the game it’s a pretty tough additional challenge to try and get them all. They were so popular that they appeared in many of the Sonic games that came out after Colors. When you’ve found enough Red Star Rings, you unlock levels in “Eggman’s Sonic Simulator”, which I’ll take a look at later. You need to find all the Red Star Rings in order to unlock all the levels in the Sonic Simulator.

It doesn't matter where you are; it's always great to form new
After two levels, we get our first cutscene: Sonic and Tails walking around this surprisingly peaceful park, admiring the view, and saying they’re surprised they got in so easily. Well, if that surprised you two, clearly you don’t know how Eggman thinks. Still, that’s a huge elevator, going from Mobius all the way to this space station… Did I mention the space station is linking FIVE planets together? And it’s as big as one of them? Okay, seriously, I’d like to believe it, but my willing suspension of disbelief is seriously challenged. I know Eggman’s got plenty of resources (which video game villain doesn’t?), but this is ridiculous! …But I’ll let it pass because it gives us probably one of the most awesome-looking games ever. Trouble arises, and Sonic and Tails see Orbot and Cubot chasing after little floating aliens. Sonic quickly brings the aliens away from the lackeys, and one of the two creatures somehow fuses with him and gives him a new ability… Laser! For some reason, Sonic’s fusion with the little alien allowed him to fly through the place as a laser-like entity…

Whoa! That's a big thing indeed!
A few levels go by, and then we get a scene where Tails is trying to turn his handheld machine into a translator so that he can understand the little alien who’s following them around. They still need to find out why Eggman needs them… Talking about Eggman, it doesn’t take long before Sonic spots him near two dozen odd containers keeping little aliens captive. Instead of staying around, Eggman chooses to let his latest creation, “Big Boy”, take care of the blue hedgehog. Were you thinking of “Big Boy” as in, a big humanoid robot on which Sonic must climb in order to reach the weak points? It’s actually closer to a Ferris wheel of doom, with a big circle, and a big robot with one eye in the middle and two arms that keep grabbing parts of that circle. The machine's actual name is Whatever. Eggman, you get points for the effort (and for not adding “Egg” in the name, for once), but soon you’ll lose those points again when Sonic demolishes this lil’ Big Boy of yours. Boom! Just as I said!

After his victory, Sonic goes back to Tails, who has finally managed to make the translator work. Um, actually, not quite. Still, Tails manages to correct a few bugs, and says the little alien’s name is Yacker. Huh. He’s from a species of aliens called the Wisps. Re-huh. And his people are being kidnapped by Eggman. Okay, that last part we knew. Still, the only way Sonic and Tails can make sense of all this is by visiting every area of this park – and since it links multiple PLANETS together, the search will be long. After defeating Big Boy, one planet and an armada of ships are made available. Those are the next worlds? Which one… which one… I think it’s time to go back to Sugar Rush, because the planet we’re visiting is called Sweet Mountain. It’s a diabetic’s worst nightmare!

Sonic saves some yellow Wisps in the first level. What can those do? When they merge with Sonic, everyone’s favorite hedgehog is suddenly capable of digging through the ground (conveniently as solid as a cake) – at great speed, of course. What’s more, I get the feeling that Eggman wants to cook the planet, because all of his badnik robots wear chef hats and wield kitchen tools. For once, I can officially declare there are too many cooks!

Okay, I got that reference out of the way. Been itching to do that one since 2014.

Taken from the game's intro.
In the third level of Sweet Mountain, Sonic saves orange wisps that give him the power to elevate like a rocket… certainly not to infinity and beyond, because this superpower only lasts a few seconds (like all the other Wisps’ abilities). However, he can take a while to go back to the ground. A few more levels go by, and Sonic ends up facing a large pirate ship made all of candy and sweets. Who’s the leader: Captain Stickybeard? Captain Crunch? Captain Bag O’Candy? Nope, it’s a robot. ...Ah, it's Robo-Cap'n!

You should have called this ship the Titanic, 'cause at any
moment now I'm gonna sink it!
Sonic has to cause the ship to fall to the ground and then attack the robotic captain. Just a few times, and the creation is down! Tails arrives (late, as always) and says Yacker told him more about their species: Their life energy is an incredible source of power, and that’s what Sonic’s been using every time he was fusing with any of them. Eggman (who Yacker calls Baldy McNosehair) probably wants to harness all that energy for himself, to fulfill the insane amount of energy required for his evil plan. …Although considering the size of this galactic park and how much electricity it must be consuming every minute, Eggman probably HAD enough resources and power to do anything already… And don’t get me started on the money it must have cost to make this thing. I theorize Eggman has a couple money bins à la Scrooge McDuck, and when he takes a break from villainy he just goes for a swim in his pools of cash.

And I suppose this sour robotic pirate is one who loots for Eggman.

Whoa. Is that a reference to a constellation?
Sonic then moves on to the Starlight Carnival, a pretty armada of ships. Pretty… but deadly. In that section of the park, Sonic finds green Wisps who give him the ability to fly! Once again, it’s rather limited, but there’s the added bonus that Green Wisp Sonic will instantly follow chains of rings if you press B near them. Neat. In another location, Sonic finds a blue Wisp that gives him a rather puzzling ability: When he activates said ability, big blue rings will become blue blocks, and blue blocks will become big blue rings. He can also destroy some kinds of blocks with that ability. As I said, it’s a more puzzle-oriented one, though it can become difficult to navigate (you can pick up the blue rings, which means they won’t be there to turn into blocks once you activate the ability).

You have to wonder how long it takes Eggman to build these.
After a bit, though, Sonic and Tails reach a place similar to the preceding boss’s arena. Eggman shows up in a machine! He tries to zap Sonic! Tails gets in the way! He doesn’t seem electrocuted, but he does appear shocked. When Sonic tries to run up to Eggman, he notices Tails keeps blocking him. Oh no, that was a mind control ray… which is scientifically impossible, but then again we’re talking here about a guy who made a space station bigger than the goddamn Death Star, so I don’t think Eggman cares much about realism. The bad Doctor brags that with all of the Wisps under his control, he could create enough mind control rays to enslave all the creatures of the universe. Keep dreaming, Baldy McNosehair. Thankfully, the mind control ray stops functioning, and Tails goes back to normal. Eggman notices he’s run out of Wisp energy… oh, so THAT’S why he needs the Wisps! Still no explanation on how the Wisp energy lets him take control of people through rays, though. Whatever, Eggman realizes he’s screwed if he stays around, so he flies away in his floating half-orb and lets some giant ship (The Frigate Orcan) take care of Sonic. Sonic defeats the enemy in an epic battle and then goes back to Tails. Having translated more of Yacker’s words, Tails explains that Eggman uses generators to extract all of the aliens’ power and store it until he needs it for his plan. We get a funny scene with Eggman, Cubot and Orbot, and then four places open at once. Almost everything that was unavailable is now unlocked, and you can do the next three planets in any order! Hm… So much choice… I’m tempted to go with Planet Wisp.

The first level of Planet Wisp set the mood: Beautiful grassy fields, purple lethal liquid, and factories every-frickin-where. Gee, thanks Eggman for destroying an ecosystem! Still, in that first level, Sonic rescues a pink-ish Wisp who gives him the ability to turn into a spike ball. …Nothing new here, move along! …No, wait! I mean that he can attach himself to walls and ceilings and speed through the level, while also breaking through blocks he normally can’t break! Well, I guess that’s something… Anyway, Planet Wisp is home to some very annoying levels in the game, mostly because of that purple goo everywhere and those “renovations” of Eggman’s “Park” causing a million endless pits to appear. What’s more, the entire place is covered in moving platforms, and missing a jump is way too easy. Oh well. We get a scene where Tails explains, still translating the Wisps’ language, that Eggman brought their planet closer to his galactic base with a tractor ray. ..really? That's impossible! Then again...

Science-fiction: Where there’s a ray for everything! Laser rays, light rays, memory-wiping rays, tractor rays, teleportation rays, mind-controlling rays! Just go to Rays’R’Us, you’ll find just the ray you need, even if science says it’s impossible! Even if it doesn’t exist, we have it! Rays’R’Us: When there’s a will, there’s a ray!

This is such a blatant lack of creativity that I'm tempted to
destroy it just to teach Eggman a lesson.
So, Sonic reaches the boss in Planet Wisp. And yeah, we can see that Eggman is already running out of ideas, as he has just sent a robot that looks and acts damn similar to Big Boy. What’s its nickname? Bigger Boy? This is so imaginative! Although I’ll give Eggman some credit, this one is a LOT harder to defeat than the first one. Still no match for a good player controlling Sonic the Hedgehog, however. So Sonic trashes Bigger Boy, deactivates the generator, and starts cracking jokes at the remains of Bigger Boy. Sonic freed Planet Wisp! He can make fun of the robots here as much as he wants, can't he? A big part of the adventure is complete now! I think I’ll stop here, and continue Monday with the last two (three?) worlds in the game, the Sonic Simulator, and the other things you can find in the game.

Don’t miss it!