Review by Retro

"Pinball Sonic style!"

I've always liked pinball video games a lot, so when I heard about Sonic Spinball, I knew I had to have this game. When I got it for Christmas and finally got to play it, I found out that it's good old fashioned pinball, only Sonic style, which was great!

All the normal pinball mechanics are here in Sonic Spinball. You have to use flippers to hit the pinball, or in this case, Sonic, to where ever you want him to go. There are also other familiar pinball items such as bumpers, ways to get extra balls (by getting certain numbers of points), and the usual alley ramps, death channels, and safe alleys.

Sonic Spinball is pretty much an interactive pinball game. Sonic will always be rolled up in a ball while you hit him around the various levels, but while he's in the air, you can somewhat control whether he goes left or right. There are other parts of the game that you can reach in which you can make Sonic walk, do the spin dash, automatically grab hold of and swing himself up onto a platform, and so on. If you've ever played any of the Sonic The Hedgehog games, then you'll see right away why I said this is pinball Sonic style. Throughout all four of the big levels, Sonic can collect rings for extra points and possibly a bonus if you collect all of them, and the chaos emeralds and Dr. Robotnik are also back. To pass any of the levels, you must collect all the various chaos emeralds by doing certain things, and then you must fight Dr. Robotnik in one of his forms such as a scorpion, a bunch of Robotnik heads, and so on.

Sonic, being the animalitarian that he is, is still interested in saving as many of his animal friends that have been captured by Robotnik, as he can. You'll know what I mean when you get to level 3 and find an animal prison. For the most part, the enemies are a little different from the ones you've seen before. There's a huge dragon that can eat you, chickens called Clucks that just want to get in your way, and others such as worms that Sonic can bag.

As I mentioned before, there are four main levels included in Sonic Spinball. They are: The Toxic Caves, Lava Powerhouse, The Machine, and Showdown. All four of them are a lot different from the one before it. In The Toxic Caves, you must maneuver Sonic around a dump full of slime and industrial waste, the Lava Powerhouse is full of lava traps and steam powered items, The Machine is just like looking inside and exploring a huge electronics machine, and I'll let you discover Showdown, the final level, on your own. Each level presents its own set of challenges for you to accomplish in order to find and collect the emeralds. Sonic will have to do things such as ride coasters, use steam jets as if they were flippers, free a bunch of animals in an animal prison, and much more.

At the end of each level, you get the chance to complete a fun bonus level for up to millions of bonus points. The bonus levels are very innovative and a lot of fun at the same time. For example, in one of them, a fat Dr. Robotnik head will be moving back and forth as the target. In this one, you have to keep knocking the pinball into Dr. Robotnik's four teeth until you make all of them go away. Then when you knock the pinball into Robotnik's mouth, his whole head will explode and you'll be finished with that bonus round. I guess you could call that one major headache! While in a bonus level, if it looks like the pinball is headed down the wrong path, you can press A, B, and C at the same time to shake, or tilt, the pinball machine.

If you don't like the normal settings, you can always change a few things such as the speed of the game, whether or not to have music, and which buttons control which flippers. Sonic Spinball can be played by up to four players, but you just get to take turns by passing the controller from one to the other.

There are many other details I could tell you about Sonic Spinball, but if I did, I'd be spoiling it for you so I'll just give you one more hint. During gameplay, there's always a sort of message board at the top of the screen. Depending on what you do, where you go, etc., a certain message such as ''Bad Move Bro,'' ''Keep it up!!!,'' ''Never give up,'' and so on, will appear on that board. Keep your eye on it as much as you can, because it might even give you a real helpful hint from time to time. When a message isn't flashing or scrolling on that board, it always shows your score and how many lives you have left.

If you like pinball games, and especially if you're a Sonic fan, I would recommend getting Sonic Spinball if you see the chance. It's a lot of fun and it can get very addicting. Just be ready for a good challenge.

GRAPHICS - Sonic Spinball has some of the best, if not the best graphics I've ever seen in a console pinball game. The cinema at the beginning that shows Sonic falling off an airplane was very well done for a 1993 game. The levels are colorful and well animated. I also liked many of the effects such as in the first bonus level where it shows Sonic's reflection on the glass, as he is the one controlling the pinball machine.

SOUND - From the sounds of Sonic bouncing off a bunch of bumpers to the sounds of the bosses, the sound effects in Sonic Spinball are clear and pleasing. The music is good to listen to and all the tunes go with the levels.

CONTROL - Unlike some pinball video games, it's easy to hit the pinball, I mean Sonic, in the right spot in order to make him go where you want him to go. There's not any lag or other hassles with controlling Sonic or the flippers.

REPLAY VALUE - Even though I haven't ever quite got past a certain part in level three, and even though I pretty much know I'm not going to be able to pass it as soon as I start playing the game unless I get super lucky, Sonic Spinball still has me coming back for more and more playing time. In other words, it's challenging and also very addicting and fun.

OVERALL - Sonic Spinball is one of my favorite pinball video games and probably my favorite one for the Sega Genesis. If you're a pinball fan AND a Sonic fan, do yourself a favor and get this game as soon as you can!


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 07/14/01, Updated 05/20/02


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