Sonic the Hedgehog Spinball
|Sonic the Hedgehog Spinball|
|Developer(s)||Sega Technical Institute|
Brad Scott Gish
|Series||Sonic the Hedgehog|
|Release date(s)||Sega Mega Drive/Genesis
Sonic the Hedgehog Spinball, or Sonic Spinball (ソニック・スピンボール Sonikku Supinbōru?), is a pinball video game in the Sonic the Hedgehog series. It was originally released for the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis in 1993, and later ported to the Sega Game Gear and Sega Master System in 1995.
The term "Spinball" is a portmanteau on pinball and "spin dash", a move Sonic performs. It, along with Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine were the only two Sonic games released to use characters and elements from the Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic the Hedgehog cartoons.
Sonic Spinball is essentially a pinball simulation featuring Sonic as the "ball". The main difference from traditional pinball game is the ability to influence Sonic's movement somewhat while moving, although flippers are still the primary source of movement. In a few rare instances, the player can control Sonic on foot, but for the majority of the time he is rolled into a ball and controlled by the flippers.
The game features four large pinball tables: a sewer level, a geothermal power station, a robot factory, and a launchpad system. The player must guide Sonic through each of the four levels and collect all of the Chaos Emeralds, then fight Dr. Robotnik. Once all of the Chaos Emeralds in a level are collected, Sonic gains access to the boss room and has to defeat a boss to advance onwards. Sonic will lose a life if he falls into certain traps such as lava, slime, or monsters, and the game ends when the player loses all their lives.
At the end of each of the first three stages, Sonic gets to play a bonus round. These bonus rounds are set up like real pinball machines, with Sonic at the controls. The player is given a task to complete and three balls to play with. However, the flippers are the only way to control the ball, it cannot be influenced otherwise, unlike the normal game with Sonic as the ball. Pressing all the flipper buttons at once will make Sonic shake the machine, though repeated shakes will cause a tilt and lock the flippers.
Completing the bonus stages are optional and serves only to increase the player's score.
Additionally, there is a hidden multi-ball bonus game, called "The Clucker's Defense". It can be played on any stage if the player manages to collect every ring in the level, and move Sonic a "star circle" hidden on the board. The object is to destroy a crab enemy who is protected by a pair of "Clucker" (chicken) enemies. Also, there are 3 other hidden multi-ball bonus games: "Trapped Alive" (which only appears in Toxic Caves, the objective is to free the Sonic Freedom Fighters and defeat Dr. Robotnik in that bonus stage after you free them, hitting Robotnik with the pinball before you free the Sonic Freedom Fighters counts as bonus points, after you free all of them and destroy Robotnik's vehicle, knocking him out, the screen then says, "Grand Slam!"), "Robo Smile" (which only appears in the Lava Powerhouse, the objective is to defeat the huge Robotnik head robot by knocking out the teeth. Once you knock out all the teeth, the robot will explode. Hitting the targets behind the robot counts as bonus points. Once you destroy the robot, the screen then says "Headache!"), and then "The March" (which only appears in The Machine, the objective is to destroy chicken robots guarding the capsule of the Sonic Freedom Fighters trapped inside it, the chicken robots resemble that of between a "Clucker" and Robotnik's assistant chicken-lookalike robot, Scratch. After you destroy some of the chicken robots guarding the capsule, you have to destroy all sides of the capsule in order to free the Sonic Freedom Fighters. Beware, it's tougher than it sounds. Destroying the chicken robots by hitting them with the balls count as bonus points. Once you destroy the capsule and the Sonic Freedom Fighters will appear, the screen will then say "Freedom!"). There are no more bonus stages which will appear only once in Showdown.
Dr. Robotnik has assumed control of Mt. Mobius and turned it into a mechanical base, named the "Veg-O-Fortress". Utilizing energy produced by the magma flowing under the volcano, it has the power to transform helpless animals into robot slaves. Sonic the Hedgehog and Miles "Tails" Prower fly onto the scene, but Sonic is knocked off the wings of Tails' airplane by a blast from the fortress. He falls into the water, but survives and ends up in the Veg-O-Fortress. Sonic proceeds to work his way through its elaborate "Pinball Defense System", while collecting the Chaos Emeralds, in order to destroy, and escape, the fortress.
Alternate versions and ports
The Sega Mega Drive/Genesis version of the game has been re-released on the Sonic Mega Collection (2002) compilation for Nintendo GameCube, PlayStation 2, Xbox and PC, the Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection (2009) compilation for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, and multiple iterations of the Sega Smash Pack (1999, 2001, 2002) series of compilations. The Game Gear version appears as an unlockable game in Sonic Adventure DX: Director's Cut (2003) for the GameCube and PC, as well as Sonic Gems Collection (2005) for the GameCube and PlayStation 2.
The Mega Drive/Genesis version was released on the Wii's Virtual Console on March 12, 2007 in North America and April 5, 2007 in Europe. The game is also available for iOS devices on Apple's App Store. On September 13, 2010, it was released on Steam as well.
Electronic Gaming Monthly gave the Game Gear version a 4.25 out of 10, commenting that the placement of the two flipper buttons right next to each other is awkward and difficult, the graphics frequently blur, and the player has very little control over where the ball goes. GamePro also criticized the button placement, but asserted the game is otherwise "almost exactly like the Genesis original" and that it is more fun to play on the go than on a home console. However, they rated the game itself a mediocre example of a pinball game, commenting that "the pace often feels slow and uneventful in comparison to other pinball carts. You spend a lot of time ricocheting back and forth to the same places where nothing new is happening."
IGN gave the Virtual Console release - i.e. the Mega Drive version - 7.5 out of 10, stating that "It's not a perfect game – there are aspects of the control that could have been tighter, and its difficulty level may be a bit too extreme for new players. But it's a good option for Sonic fans, or pinball fans." Pocket Gamer gave the iPhone version a 6 out of 10, stating that "while it isn’t a particularly good pinball game, it is a pretty decent video game."
In reviews of Sonic Mega Collection, 1up called Sonic Spinball "pretty awful" and that it "makes a fellow long for a real pinball table", GameSpot cited serious problems with slowdown, and IGN complained of a choppy frame rate.
Sega-16 scored the Mega Drive version 8 out of 10.
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- "ProReview: Sonic the Hedgehog Spinball". GamePro (62) (IDG). September 1994. p. 136.
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- Oliver, Tristan (22 January 2010). "UK Sonic Spinball Roller Coaster, Hotel Confirmed with SOE Support | TSSZ News". TSSZ News. Retrieved 9 June 2012.