Way back in 1993; you’ll find a little spin-off, not so well known by many people; Sonic Spinball (otherwise known as Sonic The Hedgehog Spinball). A classic Sonic based pinball-style game, featuring the blue hedgehog as the ball, which tests the patience of even the most hardcore fans of the series. As you’d expect the game was entirely exclusive to Sega’s main console, the Mega Drive, until recent years; when it became available to download on the a number of online services including Nintendo’s.
Although the game only consists of four levels (Sewers, Power Station, Factory and Launchpad), it is a real skill-based fight to the finish, which pushes anyone; but extreme virtual pinball champions to the edge. Remaining on the original track of stereotypical Sonic style, the aim of the game is to collect a total of three chaos emeralds in each of the four levels, before fighting what could be considered as a “boss battles” at the end of each table and then finally – to fight “Eggman”, more formally known as “Doctor Robotnik”. It’s not all as simple as pinball though, right? Sega had to make it a little more difficult; falling off the edge of the pinball table for example doesn’t just mean game-over, you have a five second period to redeem yourself and get back into the game. It also featured the classic; “transform robots back to animals” idea, certain areas of the pinball table became dedicated to the hosts of Dr. Robotnik’s evil plan, and Sonic returning them to their rightful state, which gave it a more classic feel. Not only that but each pinball table was divided into three, slightly smaller individual challenges, each with their own emerald, own dangers and own different creatures to free.
The game remains simple to play all the way through, as many pinball games do, keeping basic controls and a simple concept; to rack away as many points as possible, in as little time possible, this time controlled by the number of rings you collect and the amount of creatures you free. As you’d expect, the game becomes rather tedious and repetitive the longer you play it for, and is better off being played as a “time killer” other than a serious “game-fest” due to the lack of storyline and a constant use of the same ideas, although that’s only the best of the criticisms it’s received over its two-decade long life of existence; the most common being based around it’s choppy frame rate and it’s debilitating effects on the gameplay itself.
As far as spinoffs go, Sonic Spinball is a pretty good one, especially as it came with such a basic concept that weaved in perfectly with its original game series. Not only that but Sega managed to keep all the original features that fans knew and loved. Sadly enough, the game became much more popular on it’s recent download only releases than it was on its original console which proves one thing, everybody loves nostalgia, especially the Sega fans.