Sonic Colors DS looks and plays a lot like the classic Genesis games. It's a fast, 2D platformer where you blaze through levels collecting rings and other items in a mad dash to reach the end. Sonic Colors follows a formula, but it never feels repetitive thanks to wonderfully inventive level design. You're constantly encountering new, often one-time-only mechanics. One level might have a portion where you're careening down a waterslide; another might pit you against a giant dinosaur's skull that's chasing you, and another still might keep you underwater. Each act combines moments like this with traditional Sonic staples like spikes, loops, and moving platforms, creating frenetic courses that demand your attention.
As if the level design wasn't insane enough on its own, Sonic Colors adds in special powers to make it even more chaotic. Each world Sonic unlocks gives him access to a new "color," gained by saving poor little aliens called "Wisps" from Dr. Eggman. Each Wisp color grants Sonic a power, transforming him into a rocket, a laser, and more. Levels are designed with these powers in mind, so on top of hectic platforming, players are constantly transforming and exploring the world in different forms. These lead to dramatic changes of pace, and add a lot of replayability, as players can take newly unlocked powers into older acts to find previously inaccessible areas.