Sonic SpinballCasino Night Zone appeared in Sonic 2, bringing with it several unique gameplay twists. One of these was pinball-style flippers, that would shoot a balled Sonic high above, often times into a ring giving slot machine. CNZ quickly became a fan favorite, and long after Sonic 2's release, all the cool kids with the Genesis's talked about the level. Word of this got to Sega, who thought that such a concept on it's own would make a good game.
On paper, Sonic Spinball sounds good: take everything fun about the pinball-bumper levels from Sonic 1 and 2 and turn it into a full fledged game, complete with ring collecting, emerald hunting, Robotnik bashing, and even special stages. In execution, however, Sonic Spinball was slow, buggy, unbalanced, and pretty much not fun. The idea is to collect the Chaos Emeralds locked up in the four unneccesarily large levels. After they were collected, a Robotnik boss battle ensued. You could then play a bonus stage, complete with cameos of the Saturday morning Sonic cartoon cast (which is the only time they ever appear in a Sonic game). Proceed to the next level and do the same, seemingly ad infinitum.
The game was developed solely in America by Sega Technical Institute, with minimal involvement by Sonic Team. As a result, the game has an unusually American flair, right down to its soundtrack, which tries overly hard to be hard-rockin'. The game was also unusually difficult, which contrasted sharply with previous Sonic games that had been relatively easy. Nevertheless, Spinball didn't completely bomb. It was released when Sonic was on top of the world, and anything bearing his name ensured good sales. While it wasn't an extreme success, Spinball became a game played by many, yet actually beaten by few.
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