Sonic Colours: Ultimate (Xbox One) Review

By Neil Flynn 22.09.2021

Review for Sonic Colours: Ultimate on Xbox One

It is no secret that Sonic the Hedgehog struggled to find his feet during the 2000s, and the transition to 3D was not as smooth as Nintendo's mascot plumber. Nonetheless, the fandom had an affinity with the Sonic Adventure series, maybe due to the legendary soundtrack, exuberant attitude, and cast of characters. However, despite this, the gameplay was mostly deeply flawed, filled with bugs and a 3D camera that had a few kinks in the system. SEGA's later attempts to continue to bring Sonic into 3D continued to miss the mark, and the 2006 entry, Sonic the Hedgehog, colloquially titled Sonic '06 by fans, was the lowest point in the franchise. A couple of years later, Sonic Team would come out with Sonic Unleashed, introducing the boost mechanic to the 3D realm, something that Sonic Rush did incredibly well in 2D on Nintendo DS. Unleashed faced its fair share of criticism but was praised for a subsection of the daytime levels. That is why when Sonic Colours launched on Wii it was a momentous occasion, as it took the fun 3D gameplay of Sonic Unleashed, and also put Sonic back into the 2D side-scrolling plane to introduce new puzzles. Confined to Nintendo Wii for over 10 years, this has now been resurrected for modern platforms, but has Sonic Colours aged as well as everyone fondly remembers?

Fundamentally Sonic Colours: Ultimate is the same game as the 2010 release of Sonic Colours on Wii. Re-reading Cubed3's original review sums up the core gameplay mechanics that made the later so great in the first place. A good starting point is to applaud Sonic Team for taking the series back to basics, with Sonic being the only playable character, whose mission is to race to the end goal. Dispersed throughout the levels are short term abilities granted to Sonic, which can be used to find new pathways, hidden items, or used to zip through parts of levels.

Abilities are granted to Sonic by an alien lifeform known as Wisps, which are being hunted by series antagonist, Dr Eggman, who wants to use their powers for his own dastardly plans. The Wisps are often placed in front of the area that they need to be used, so it is not too difficult to figure out when to use them most of the time. They offer abilities which can rocket Sonic to the highest part of the level, or drill through the muddy terrain. A new Wisp ability, the Jade Ghost, was added into Sonic Colours: Ulitimatem allowing for Sonic to fly straight through walls and other objects to access hidden areas. As the game progresses, more Wisp abilities are unlocked, meaning that going back to levels could be vital to achieve a 100% completion rate.

Screenshot for Sonic Colours: Ultimate on Xbox One

Sonic Colours: Ultimate setting is all around the space-based amusement park that Dr Eggman has built. There are six worlds, five of which Eggman has chained to the central hub, any of the worlds can be readily accessed throughout, so going back to replay levels are easy. Each world has up to seven acts, many more than the traditional two-three acts that Sonic gamers are often attuned to. The main issue here is that some of these acts are very short, and only focussed in 2D. In fact, those looking for a game that features more 3D sections such as those seen in Sonic Unleashed might be disappointed to hear that Sonic Colours: Ultimate is largely played in a 2D side-scrolling fashion, which is a shame as the 3D segments do work well.

Each Act is hiding five Red Star Rings, which can then be used to access the Game Land Sonic Simulator to acquire the Chaos Emeralds, collecting the five Red Star Rings might be difficult on initial play throughs due to either needing a Wisp power that is yet unlocked or it has just been simply missed on the initial playthrough. The aforementioned Game Land Simulator is used to collect the Chaos Emeralds, although these are just 2D stages with bland backgrounds and simple puzzles consisting of three mini acts. They are a little uninspired considering Chaos Emerald levels from previous Sonic titles, but this was also the case in the original Sonic Colours as well.

Screenshot for Sonic Colours: Ultimate on Xbox One

New additions to Sonic Colours: Ultimate include menus to customise the appearance of Sonic, such as changing the colour palette of the gloves, shoes, aura and type of boost graphic. None of these are particularly ground breaking, as they are literally colour swaps of a few items, and they have to be purchased using in-game Park Tokens, which are littered among the various levels. The Deluxe Edition and some pre-order bonuses also come with a number of these unlocked from the start. These aren't too noticeable during gameplay, but they can be particularly useful to distinguish between Sonic and Metal Sonic in the new mode, Rival Rush. Rival Rush is unlocked in each world once Sonic collects enough Red Star Rings, and sees Sonic race against an old nemesis (who otherwise has no other connection to Sonic Colours whatsoever).

There are only six of these in the entire game, which is a shame as they do offer quite a bit of a challenge and it would have been interesting to add them to every level. A few quality-of-life additions have been made to help smoothen the gameplay experience, such as the previously mentioned Jade Ghost Wisp power. Another example of this is the 'Tails Save,' which places Sonic back on course if he has died anywhere, such as falling down a pit or has been bested by an enemy. Being saved by Tails also retains Sonic's Rings, Red Star Rings, and Park Tokens, furthermore, there is no actual way to turn this off, which could aggravate those who wanted the original challenge, but it is unlikely that fans will have too much of an issue with this.

Screenshot for Sonic Colours: Ultimate on Xbox One

Officially, Sonic Colours: Ultimate is an Xbox One game, which can be played via backwards compatibility on the Xbox Series X|S. It evidently plays better on more powerful hardware, with the Series S version clocking in at 1080p/60fps, the Series S didn't have any challenges achieving this, however when trying Sonic Colours: Ultimate on the Xbox One S there were noticeable frame issues and a lower resolution. Bizarrely there is no Quick Resume function on Xbox either, which is quite peculiar considering the Xbox 360 backwards compatible titles of Sonic Generations and Sonic Unleashed including this QOL feature.

It is a little more jarring that while the in-game visuals have been spruced up from the original Wii textures and lighting there has been no effort to work on the cut scenes, which looked great on Wii, but very average in 2021 on modern hardware. There are a handful of visual issues, not present in the Wii version, such as darker textures when there weren't any beforehand, or overlapping water textures in areas that there should be no water effects. The thing is, only the really eagle eyed will spot these, when the action is moving there aren't too many buggy issues, but it should be noted that other remasters do a much better job at bringing their games into the modern era, realistically this should look better than it does. There was some tinkering in the sound department, which has seen a handful of remixes replacing the original soundtrack. It is very odd, each of the remixed tracks are inferior to their originals, and there is no way to switch it to the original soundtrack. It is a head scratching change that most likely has some reason attached to it, but it a strange decision nonetheless.

Screenshot for Sonic Colours: Ultimate on Xbox One

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Luckily, the original Sonic Colours stands tall, featuring fun, exploratory gameplay and it is rewarding replaying levels to attain higher ranks. The 3D sections are far and few between, but the ones that are there are fun. The 2D gameplay is vastly improved from Sonic Generations with tighter controls and added variety in the form of Wisp abilities. Ultimate adds a lick of new paint to bring this to the Xbox platform, of which it is recommended to play on either Xbox Series X|S to get the standard performance that players have come to expect. Rival Rush is a fun mode, but there are only six acts and some of these levels are incredibly short. The other additions that Ultimate has added are superfluous, but don't do anything to really damage the core game either. If Sonic Colours doesn't exist in your library and you are a fan of the Blue Blur then there is no excuse to not pick this up.


Blind Squirrel Entertainment




Action Adventure



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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