Review by Psycho Penguin

Reviewed: 03/21/04

Sega starts pimping out the Sonic series.. not off to a bad start, though.

When the Sonic series started to get really popular, it was inevitable that Sega would begin to slowly produce more and more Sonic games. However, not all of them could be the fun and fast platforming adventures we were used to, right? Therefore, Sega had to take some risks if they were to pimp out the Sonic series. Their first really ''innovative'' (if you could call it that) idea was to put Sonic into a pinball game. Well, I certainly admire their braveness. The Sonic fans were needy and greedy at the time, and producing a bad game would have surely left a black eye on Sega's face. And Sega wanted to wait several years before destroying their company!

Fortunately, the ''spinball'' game turned out to be quite good, and Sega procured large amounts of money as a result. This was actually the highest selling ''spinoff'' game of the Sonic series on Genesis, and for good reason. It is incredibly fun, almost matching the regular series in simple fun factor. Most pinball games are a little slow, yet still fun to play. There's nothing really slow about Sonic, so Sega busted out the SPEED factor in this game, and with amazing results. Never have I played such a fast pinball game, and it really leads to copious amounts of replay value.

There's only four levels in Sonic Spinball, but don't let that deter you. The levels are large and take time to get through. Enemies are well placed, and make traversing the pinball areas harder than normal. You go through the levels like any typical pinball game. There are flippers, which you control to push Sonic around. Nothing very original or unique here, but the blazing speed will make sure you never fall asleep or get bored. You have to be focused and determined, otherwise you will lose track pretty quickly. The object of each level is to collect emeralds. The more you advance, the more emeralds you have to collect. Sometimes they are pretty well hidden, too.

At the end of each level, you have to face a boss. The boss is usually on top of the screen, and you usually have to use the flippers to hit onto a certain area on the boss's body, while avoiding his attacks. It's incredibly fun. After doing this, you get a bonus stage. One of these bonus stages has a big Dr. Robotnik mouth with teeth, that you have to hit with a metal ball. Hit the teeth with the metal ball, and a very disturbing sound will eminate from the TV. Well, I guess getting my teeth hit with a metal ball would make me cry like a little girl, too. The bonus stages are awesome and add to the fun factor significantly.

The controls could have used a bit of fine tuning, but for the most part, they are not too bad. It is hard to sometimes control the flipper you want to control. That is pretty much the only thing you control, besides Sonic, so the game doesn't have terribly complex controls. It makes me wonder why the controls that are there couldn't have been better, but overall they are not too bad and won't cause too many problems. Especially once you get used to them.

With all the speed, you may think that the graphics sometimes slow down. They don't. I never quite knew how Sega managed to make these incredibly detailed and colorful stages without sacrificing speed. It is remarkable. There are four massive levels, and each level looks unique. One level has you in a fiery underworld, while another drops you off in a sewage plant. The graphics are extremely detailed, especially considering the speed. Music also doesn't take a hit, as the songs presented never get annoying or unnerving. Sure, they're a little kiddy, but what do you expect from a Sonic game?

With all these great qualities, it's no wonder I was quite addicted to Sonic Spinball. Each level brings something new to the table, and you will want to play again and again. The game is so fast and unique that you cannot help but love it. It is simply addicting, but sadly it is not as challenging as it could have been. Despite the speed factor, the game is simply not hard. I completed it, my first time through, in about an hour and a half. That is not a very good sign, but fortunately the fun factor and replay value make up for it.

So, if you're in the mood for a fun and fast pinball game, you could do far worse than Sonic Spinball. If you aren't, then why the hell are you reading this review? Sonic Spinball won't win any awards for originality, but Sega managed to take a pretty weird idea and execute it perfectly. This is my favorite of all the Sonic spinoffs, and if you're a pinball fan, then get this game. Or download it. You won't regret it. I sure didn't.

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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