The RetroBeat — Sonic Colors: Ultimate makes this older adventure shine

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Sometimes, a game does just needs a graphical upgrade to become suitable for a modern audience. That’s why I’m glad Sonic Colors: Ultimate exists, and you’ll be able to play this remaster when it launches September 7 for PC, PlayStation, Xbox, and Switch.

The original Sonic Colors came out for the Wii in 2010. It was, at the time, Sonic’s best console game in a long while. It focused on 2D action with occasional 3D elements, a formula first found in its predecessor, 2008’s Sonic Unleashed. But Unleashed also has a lot of bland, brawler-focused action levels. Colors emphasizes platforming and nothing else.

However, it was stuck on the Wii, a console with weak hardware that couldn’t even produce HD images. This was painful even back in 2010. It meant that Sonic Colors looked noticeably worse than Unleashed, which was available on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

Shining through

Sonic Colors: Ultimate fixes that. I got to play an early version of this remaster thanks to a remote demo via the PC-sharing platform Parsec. And, wow, this game sure does look a lot better. The HD visuals mean that a game called Sonic Colors actually has vibrant colors. It also runs at a nice 60 fps, which is a big deal for a fast-paced series like Sonic.

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Now, I’m still not the biggest fan in the world of the Sonic Unleashed/Colors/Generations game feel. Running and jumping can feel a bit slippery and imprecise. Now, playing on Parsec meant that I was experiencing some input lag, so that exacerbated the issue. Also, I’m old. I grew up with those original 2D Sonic games. I’ll always prefer those.

Yet I was having a lot of fun with Sonic Colors: Ultimate. These theme park-inspired, neon-filled levels are delightful to run through and gawk at. The Wisp powers let you do things like drill through the ground or bounce against walls, adding some variety and excitement.

Sonic Colors comes from an era when the series was tragically hit-or-miss. I always wondered if the game was actually good or just seemed better than it was when compared to flops like Sonic 06 and Sonic Unleashed. After spending a little time with this remaster, I’m confident that Sonic Colors deserves the love fans often throw its way. And when Ultimate is out, it will immediately become the definitive version of the game.

Now, I wonder if Sonic Generations is going to get a similar treatment. Granted, it was already in HD, but I sure would be happy to have that game on my Switch.

The RetroBeat is a weekly column that looks at gaming’s past, diving into classics, new retro titles, or looking at how old favorites — and their design techniques — inspire today’s market and experiences. If you have any retro-themed projects or scoops you’d like to send my way, please contact me.

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