Review by Chunkey Simmons
Great concept, but is it a good game?
Fans were already treated with Sonic the Hedgehog 2 earlier, and Sonic the Hedgehog 3 was not released yet. A new concept came out, and that was Sonic Spinball. At first glance, it seemed like a clever idea for a Sonic game, since Sonic is usually curled up into a ball most times rolling off of ramps. How did Sega design and program the game was a completely different question? With that, people gave it a try. This is the first Sonic game to feature the characters from the show, which was cool back then to see. Is he game good or bad? Lets find out.
The plot is the usual Dr. Robotnik stuff, but unlike the other Sonic games, this game actually tells you this. It starts our in a warm climate with a red sky. Sonic and Tails are on some plane over a giant lake or ocean, or some body of water, and there's some rocky thing in the background trying to shoot the plane down. Tails takes off in the air, and Sonic jumps in the water and continues to drown. We can assume that Sonic feel into the water by mistake, but in the actual game it looks like he intentionally jumps into the lake. That's all we see, then it goes back to the title screen.
For for the gameplay. It starts out good with the title screen. When hitting start, it transitions to a remote area with water on the bottom. Sonic pops out of the water. Right there, we can assume that Sonic has no clue where he is and he got there through falling in the water moments before. Now the speed of Sonic and the overall movement of Sonic seems to be different in this game, and it looks intentional. The game is the usual pinball game one would see anywhere, but there are parts that require Sonic walking, so it's Pinball and a plat-former mixed together. Finding out what to do means no easy. After a bunch of playing around, apparently, I have to hit both corners of the top of wherever Sonic is. The corners are represented as some cylinder looking things, which makes it easier to find. So basically, one needs patience to not only survive throughout the game, but to find out what to do. Some of it is common sense, but most of it requires knowledge of the game. It's as if you have to go to GameFAQs and look up some FAQ, but chances are, you will not need to.
So after a bunch of playing around and dieing, this is what I have to do. Sonic needs to collect all the chaos emeralds in the level (usually there is about three in each level) and then verse the bad guy at the top of the level. Well okay, but getting these chaos emeralds will take some guessing. So once you get all the emeralds, it's time to reach the top. Once you find out that that's where you're supposed to go, you will see the first boss. The bosses should be very easy, since they are plain and simple, unlike the actual game. Remember that this is Pinball. If Sonic falls, guess where he is going. Back down. Falling down brings you back to the level, and I don't mean to the previous spot you were before the boss, but Sega decided to put a nice little hole in the ground that leads all the way to the beginning of the level. Thanks Sega. So then you need to climb back up and verse him all over again. With a few tries, you're onto level two. At that level, every rule seems to be different. Thought you had everything figured out in level one? Well now you need to figure out what to do in level two, and that's a whole other ball game. You know, having to collect all the chaos emeralds to pass the level is absolutely ridiculous! I could understand half, or even two out of the three, but having to collect every one defeats the purpose of replay value, which all the other Sonic games had. To be fair, the game does play like a Pinball game. It plays exactly like a Pinball game. There's nothing bad about the controls, it's simply trying to figure out what to do, but for some people, it may not be too hard. To tell you the truth, the controls are very good. There's not anything I can remotely find wrong with the controls in this game. The controls are the least of the worries of this game. But the gameplay has a lot of room for improvement.
The speed of Sonic is fast and decent, but this speed is not from ramps or doing spindashes, but it comes from hitting Sonic with a Pinball bat a million times. He may be fast, but his speed is nothing special. Unlike the other Sonic games, the speed is not overwhelming, and it doesn't confuse anyone in this game like it did on Sonic the Hedgehog 1 and 2. So the game speed is decent enough.
So the graphics for this game do represent a descent display, but some things like Sonic himself have been altered. I guess it was to make this game seem rather different from Sonic the Hedgehog 1 and 2. As if Sega didn't want to count it as a sequel to the previous two, but wanted to classify it as a Sonic game. It doesn't even feel like playing a Sonic game. The graphics however are not bad. There doesn't seem to be any use of parallax scrolling, which confused me because the Sega Genesis is capable or producing it. But overall, the graphics are good.
There's not much I can about the sound. It's better then the previous two games, simply because it goes better with the game. The music contributes to the thrill, and the sound adds to the thrill. If you like high volume, then you do not have to worry about turning it down, but it doesn't affect much of the game. But I won't lie; the music is great. One thing I am wondering is why there is no music tracks from the previous Sonic games. Sonic the Hedgehog 1 and 2 had similar music tracks. It was Sonic Spinball and Sonic the Hedgehog 3 that went radical.
After beating the game once, why go back? You already collected all the chaos emeralds. Besides, they force you to collect them all in order to progress to the next level! there isn't a point of playing the game again, but there are probably some who have enough interest to go back. Though before even thinking about beating the game, you should start off by actually going through the game first and figuring out what to do first. It's not a bad game, but there is room for improvement. I thanks Sega for throwing in a nice attempt as a nice game, but this game did not personally do for me. If you want to try it, definitely do so, but it's not the best game in the world.
Rating: 3.0 - Fair
Product Release: Sonic the Hedgehog Spinball (US, 11/14/93)
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