Sonic Colors: How Aliens Helped Revive the Series
After the disappointing Sonic the Hedgehog games of 2006, Sonic the Hedgehog as a franchise was in danger of ending. Those games suffered from poor storytelling, questionable voice actors who also voiced the same characters in the very maligned 2003 cartoon Sonic X, and poorly made games. Its popularity was fixed somewhat with 2008 release of Sonic Unleashed, but even that game received negative criticism at some point mostly due to the introduction of the Werehog and the tedious Night Levels. It was not until the 2010 release of Sonic Colors that people had a more positive reaction to a Sonic the Hedgehog games. Sonic Colors was a game that integrated the mechanics of both the original 1991 Sonic the Hedgehog game and the newly introduced mechanics Sonic Colors introduced without sacrificing the speed that made Sonic the Hedgehog famous, actually made a lighthearted story that actually made the characters, both good and bad, actually fun to hear talk since this game started using different voice actors, and the musical variety in all of the levels was actually fun to hear. Sonic Colors was a return to what made Sonic the Hedgehog as a franchise nearly rival Nintendo's Super Mario franchise in terms of popularity.
Like Sonic Unleashed, Sonic Colors used a gimmick that gave Sonic some variety in his abilities when it came to exploring levels. Referred to as wisps, these aliens gave Sonic new powers as he progressed through the game. Similar to Sonic Unleashed, Sonic Colors had to make Sonic acquire a new gimmick. Unlike Sonic Unleashed however, Sonic Colors managed to give the player the choice whether or not to use the new powers. Sonic in Sonic Colors already had special abilities like spinning, sliding, and stomping, but with the addition of various colored wisps, Sonic gained the ability to do different things, mostly the ability to destroy enemy robots through different methods or acquire items normal Sonic could not reach.
The video above gave some examples of what the wisps did for Sonic in Sonic Colors. While that was shown during the development of Sonic Colors, fans already know of most of the wisp powers. The White Wisp gave Sonic the ability to become invulnerable and dash through enemies and destroy them, the Cyan Wisp gave Sonic the ability to reflect and destroy enemies by turning Sonic into a laser, the Yellow Wisp gave Sonic the ability to turn into a drill and easily destroy underground and underwater enemies, the Orange Wisp gave Sonic the ability to turn into a rocket and reach items that were in the air, the Blue Wisp gave Sonic the ability to turn into a cube and destroy enemies by dropping on them or exploding near them, the Green Wisp gave Sonic the ability to turn into a spaceship and rapidly dash across long lines of rings in seconds, the Pink Wisp turn Sonic into a spiked ball to climb walls, and the purple wisp turned Sonic into a monster that literally eats anything in front of him. Sonic Colors made its gimmick work because it did not seriously alter how Sonic played. He was still fast, but all of his more unique powers got remade as their own separate entities.
Story and Characters
Sonic Colors was a step in revitalizing Sonic the Hedgehog as a franchise because its story was actually humorous. In previous years, Sonic the Hedgehog's stories were serious or took itself too seriously. Games like Shadow the Hedgehog, Sonic Riders, and Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) were examples of bad video games. Their controls were not very good, their stories were not well told, and most of their characters were unlikable.One major example was Sonic 2006 and the bestiality/borderline-necrophilia that occurred near the end. Thankfully, Sonic Colors decided to make a more lighthearted story that was well written and had some hilarious lines.
As this video shows, the plot of Sonic Colors took a more hilarious route when it came to making Sonic and Tails stop one of Dr. Eggman's plots. They made jokes about how Dr. Eggman was probably not up to no good due to the theme park he built to try to atone for his misdeeds, there was a hilarious line where Dr. Eggman specifically says that he built the amusement park as a way to atone for his past misdeeds; and is in no way secretly another plot for some evil plan, and the henchmen who reveal to Sonic and the player that Dr. Eggman really was up to no good and had to be stopped acted like idiots when terrorizing one of the wisps.
Even though he was the villain of the game, Dr. Eggman and his henchmen were portrayed as thoroughly hilarious. Some of the cutscenes made it clear that Orbot and Cubot, Eggman's henchmen robots, were incredibly incompetent compared to Eggman himself, the dialogue that occurred between the antagonists was both very witty and comedic, and since this was a theme park, the announcements that played while going through the level made the game feel less like an epic adventure, but more like a Saturday Morning cartoon. And despite the fact that Dr. Eggman took part in enslaving aliens, Sonic Colors made sure the player enjoyed the game while trying to save the wisps at the same time.
What made past Sonic the Hedgehog games and Sonic Colors so appealing to players was the music. Every time a player went through a level, an exhilarating melody always was included. The modern Sonic the Hedgehog games used actual instruments to differentiate themselves from their original games as a way to show-off how much better the franchise has gotten over the years. For Sonic Colors that same idea was used to make the background music, but some of the levels were able to use different tones to sound both hyperactive and graceful at the same time. This idea was clearly heard with the background music for the first level of Planet Wisp.
The beginning piano solo that played gave the player the impression that while this level would be both fast-paced, but at the same time somewhat calm at the same time. Taking place in a vibrant jungle landscape also emphasized how much fun playing through Sonic Colors was. The piano coincides with Sonic beginning at a very fertile looking jungle. But when the player starts going into the are where Dr. Eggman was tampering with the environment, the music became more technological. Symbolically the background music of the first Planet Wisp level of Sonic Colors juxtaposed the harmony of the planet before Dr. Eggman invaded and the chaos that the invasion caused.
A Very Good Game
Sonic Colors was an incredible boost towards Sega in terms of popularity. After many games filled with disappointing games, Sonic Colors actually revitalized the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise as a whole. With its nearly flawless integration of its gimmick with core game mechanics, genuinely funny storytelling, and fantastic music, Sonic Colors was an amazing game for old and new fans and players of the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise. And while there may have been some flaws with Sonic Colors compared to some on the games that came after it, this game was what made later Sonic the Hedgehog games possible.