Your Review Sucks: Destructoid’s Sonic Colors Review
Let’s be honest, 3D Sonic games have not been good. Passable, perhaps, to serious fans willing to tolerate their flaws. However, there’s no denying that they do have numerous issues. It eventually got to the point where reviewers just stopped caring. Each new Sonic only received a few minutes of playtime before being awarded their inevitably low score. While the reviewers were seldom far off, titles like Sonic Riders did prove to be an exception and resulted in a “Mass Failure of Reviewing” as everyone in the industry failed to comprehend the core game mechanics (namely “do tricks to get fuel”).
However, all that has changed with Sonic Colors. Here, at long last, was a Sonic game that was undeniably good! The graphics were the finest the Wii had ever seen, the stage design brilliantly challenging, and the flaws incredibly minute! Sonic Colors, at long last, nailed it and has received glowing reviews from almost every single member of the gaming press!
Note that I said almost as it appears old habits are hard to break for some reviewers. Such is the case with Jim Sterling’s inevitably infamous Sonic Colors review on Destructoid.
“It’s strange to think that in the same year Sega launched a traditional 2D Sonic the Hedgehog game that finally gave the fans what they wanted, it was the announcement of a Wii game that continued in the same vein as the undesirable “modern” titles that captured the excitement of the fans. “
You know, he does make a good point here. It is rather strange how Sonic Colors excited fans more than Sonic 4. That said, much of that is because it looked like a significant change from previous 3D Sonics, and not continuing in the “same undesirable vein”.
“Sonic Colors, despite its status as a “3D” Sonic, complete with a focus on narrative, gimmicks and brand new colorful friends, has somehow convinced everybody that this is the legendary “return to form” that Sonic fans have been waiting for.
All I have to ask is … how has Sonic Team managed to pull the wool over our eyes again?”
So just because it’s 3D means it focuses on narrative, gimmicks, and new characters? To be blunt, Sonic Colors has a very sparse narrative with about two cutscenes per world (before and after the boss), the new characters are just the Wisps (who will probably only appear in this game) and Cubot (Eggman’s second robot sidekick), and the “gimmick” is nothing more than power-ups.
What I really dislike is how much Jim tries to nail home the idea that it’s “the same old 3D Sonic” even though anyone with eyes can clearly tell it isn’t. This is a fact he continues to drive home throughout the review and I find it the most irritating thing about it. Anyone who played Sonic Unleashed knows what I’m talking about. Most people acted like Sonic Unleashed was “exactly the same” as all other 3D Sonics and just continued to whine even though the day stages were a radical change for the better.
“Then come the laggy controls … and broken homing attacks … and pitfall deaths … and 2D platforming sections so badly presented, you’d think they were patched together by chimpanzees. Then you realize that Sonic Colors is a case of the same old problems, in a brand new package. “
The problem here is one half not knowing what “the same old problems” are, and one half blatant lies. Broken homing attacks and laggy controls are indeed “the same old problems”, however Sonic Colors has no control issues and the lock-on icon that tells you what your homing attack is going to hit makes it no longer “broken”. “Badly presented” 2D platforming segments, however, are decidedly not the “same old problems”. Meanwhile pitfall deaths are just a Sonic staple since the old Genesis days since having rings prevents you from being killed by normal enemies (usually).
“The level layout is atrocious, putting the focus on cheap pitfall deaths instead of real challenge”
I love this line. I mean seriously, what is “real challenge” anyway? Any time a reviewer claims a game is cheap instead of providing “real challenge” you can basically read it as “This game is hard and I suck at it”. As I said, pitfall deaths are a Sonic staple and are really the only real way you’re gonna get killed in any Sonic game due to how rings work. For the record, there are less “cheap” pitfall deaths here than in Sonic Rush anyway.
“and various platforming sections that clash with the game’s very physics.”
Once again “physics” are being dragged out as a complaint.
“Sonic floats mystically in the air with every jump, making precision landing next to impossible. The jumps possess an otherworldly inertia that one never quite gets used to, making these segments feel laggy and uncomfortable.”
Sonic’s jumps have always been a little floaty. Emphasis on a little. For the most part Sonic just jumps really high. Not to mention I had absolutely no issues precision platforming in Sonic Colors, which is actually an improvement over the slippery Genesis originals. (Yes I just called the Genesis games “slippery”, they still worked despite that fact though.)
“For instance, you’ll need to make liberal use of the double jump, but if you double jump when there is a homing attack target nearby, you’ll whizz over to the target instead. Sometimes this can land you in trouble, especially during the sections where the camera zooms out to such a degree that all the graphics look like a muddy blur and you don’t even know where Sonic is, let alone how to get him across a network of moving platforms.”
This is the closest the review comes to a legitimate complaint. Yes, there is a double jump and it is preformed the same as a homing attack. However, the double jump does not need to be used that much. On top of that, you can tell when it’s going to do a homing attack based on if the lock-on reticle appears on screen.
“There are also sections where Sonic must quickly zip from left to right while running along a path. These were among my favorite parts of Sonic Unleashed, mostly because Sonic’s movements used the left and right triggers, which felt rather satisfying. Not so with Colors, even on a Classic Controller. In Colors, you have to push the movement stick left and right, while still pushing forward to keep Sonic running. I’ll let you guess just how great that feels. “
This sounds bad at first until you try it. These segments in Unleashed snuck up on you and since you could do them with the regular controls you would often forget about the side-step button. Here though, you’re warned about them ahead of time and when the game goes into side-step mode you know quick dodging is going to be required. In a way it’s a blessing disguised as a curse and ultimately comes down to simplifying and streamlining the game.
“Of course, sometimes the speed at which the game moves makes missing Wisp opportunities far too easy, and it seems Sonic Team expects you to replay levels over and over again to learn where everything is. Unfortunately, the fun levels are so few that you’ll be angry you played most of the stages once, let alone multiple times. “
Wait, did you just complain about replay value? Yes, stages are designed to be played repeatedly to find new paths. This is a good thing.
“Sonic seems to have had a personality makeover, now becoming an affable idiot with a terrible sense of humor. His new voice actor, and this amusing personality shift, make for a much more enjoyable hedgehog than the “cool dude” we’ve seen in the past. The jokes don’t always work, but the writing is vastly improved over previous games.”
It’s really less a personality makeover and more the fact that the game plays out like an episode of The Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog.
“It seems, however, that the further the game goes, the less the developers gave a crap, and every instance of inspiration soon gives way to the same sloppy, slapdash construction we’ve witnessed a dozen times before. Even when a stage starts brilliantly, the game invariably finds a way to muck it up with some sort of new environmental trap that wasn’t introduced properly, or a slice of transparent trial-and-error gameplay that has been designed purely to force a replay.”
So you’re complaining because the game throws a curveball every now and then? If you read between the lines you realize this is just what happens when a cocky older gamer plays a legitimately challenging game. They expect their innate gaming skills to carry them through, at which point they complain about the game being too easy. The moment a game is actually hard though, it becomes “cheap” and not a “real challenge”. The only exceptions to this rule are when games blatantly advertise themselves as being “challenging” for “hardcore gamers” like Ninja Gaiden or Demon’s Souls. At which point they are then declared “the greatest games ever” and reviewers complain about the lack of challenge in modern games. It’s a vicious cycle of stupidity. Ultimately, Sonic Colors is infinitely less “cheap” than either of those two titles, whether you define “cheap” as “having to memorize stage layouts” or “unexpected instant death”.
I think one thing Jim Sterling is caught up on here is the way the nature of the levels. Sonic Colors has two different kinds of levels: long, flashy, “real” levels and short “challenge” levels. The challenge levels are required in order to progress, but they are kept short to prevent hair pulling. It seems to me like Jim didn’t really recognize the split between the two. Admittedly there is no discernible in-game indication that a stage will be a “challenge level”, but it really should be obvious to a reviewer. “Wow, that stage was really hard and really short, it must exist to introduce me to a mechanic and test my skills with it”.
“The Wisp idea is pretty cute and remains fun throughout and there are a smattering of well crafted stages, but the rest of the game provides absolutely nothing you didn’t already play in Sonic Unleashed or any other 3D Sonic game released in the past ten years. The problems are exactly the same, and shoddy levels are just as bad as always, and death-by-pitfall is in as much abundance as ever.”
Once again the problem here is that Sonic Unleashed was radically different from previous Sonics so trying to lump Colors and Unleashed in with Adventure and Heroes just doesn’t work.
“Sonic 4 had its problems, but at least it was an improvement. Sonic Colors feels like a step right back into the same crap this series has drowned in for the past decade. If I had to pick a color for this game, it would be brown, for very obvious reasons.”
Sonic 4 also did absolutely nothing new and desperately tried to cater to unpleaseable fans (and failed). What this ultimately sounds like is a prejudice against 3D Sonic games regardless of their quality.
While certainly not the dumbest review ever, it does have issues. When carefully examined you realize the complaints are few and far between and ultimately come down to “this game was too hard for me”. To be blunt, there’s a reason why SEGA drew this lovely picture of Jim Sterling and attached it to Destructoid’s review copy of Sonic Colors on DS.