Sonic Spinball sees Sonic thrown into a world of pinball objects. While you might think that’s quite a basic premise, the game actually feels pretty unique. It’s not your average pinball table… The story? Well, Sonic’s gotten himself in trouble again, isn’t he? After an airborne encounter against Eggman on the Tornado, the blue blur is flung into the sea and into Mount Robotnik’s sewage duct. At least Sonic can begin his counter-attack in earnest. Just watch the smell.
Platform: Sega Mega Drive | Developer: SEGA Technical Institute
EU Release: 15 Nov 1993 | US Release: 23 Nov 1993 | JP Release: 10 Dec 1993
Here is the first Sonic game that has moved away from the platform genre: Sonic Spinball. There are only four levels, but to counteract this the levels are huge! The first stage ‘plops’ you in Robotnik’s sewage department, and using your pinball flipper skills you have to collect Chaos Emeralds and beat sub-bosses to reach the fourth level – the airship where Eggman is hiding.
What makes this game so unique is the fact that there are specific targets dotted about each stage that you have to hit to open the boss door and complete a level, instead of normal pinball where you simply rack up a high score by optionally hitting special targets.
At the end of each level there is a boss to contend with. In the first level, the boss seems to be some… ‘friendly’ trash eating… mecha-spider… OK, you’re right, I don’t know why he’s there. Maybe he’s hibernating or something. Anyway, these bosses usually have a weak spot and it’s up to you to find out what it is. Of course, they get meaner along the four levels, with Eggman sitting comfy on his ass asking for it to get whupped come last level.
The only way to GET to the boss and therefore complete each level is to collect Chaos Emeralds. There are three or five to collect, depending on which level you’re playing, which doesn’t sound right when you add them up (there happens to be a total of 16 of them)! Collect these gems and you’ll be given access to the end of level boss.
There just happens to be a little secret hanging around the lairs of Sonic Spinball. You know there are rings on each level? Well, what do they do? Nothing? Wrong! They help you get access to a special secret zone! Collect all of the rings in an entire level (asking much I know, but just pretend its not hard to not spoil the moment eh?) and it’ll sort of congratulate you at the top of the screen. Next, find a Large Giant Ring in the level you are on and jump in it (or flip, or whatever). You’ll be taken to a mini-pinball stage where Sonic is playing pinball himself and you must complete a specific challenge within a time limit.
Of course you don’t HAVE to collect all of the rings to access a special bonus zone. Oh, no. Complete a level and you also get taken to a bonus pinball stage to complete a challenge using a certain amount of balls. One scene sees you trying to free your friends in cylinders (avoiding Eggman along the way), then when your friends are free you hit Eggman to see him crash. Hilarious. There are many more of these when you complete levels two, three and four, its just that I HAD to showcase this ‘cos its my fave one. Squish Eggman!
The result? Maybe it’s just me, but even though this game will definitely give you a fair few hours worth of gameplay, you soon begin to realise that there’s nothing to show for it. Although they are massive stages, you only get to play in four of them and that doesn’t really do much for longevity. However, the excruciatingly hard difficulty setting will more than make up for that.
One for the collectors cabinet, as it’s very rare, especially the Master System version, and it IS a good laugh, but unless you’re really into pinball, don’t expect anything too special from this title. The first Bonus Stage is funny though. I’ve said that already? Well, it’s still funny.