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Sonic the Hedgehog Spinball, often shortened to Sonic Spinball, is a spinoff (no pun intended) of the Sonic the Hedgehog games. It was originally released for the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive in 1993 and later also made for the Game Gear (and Sega Master System in Europe). Its gameplay is derived from the requisite pinball-themed level found in most Sonic titles.
The plot involves Sonic and Tails on a mission to stop Eggman's volcano fortress. As per usual, Tails' plane is shot down, and Sonic is forced to go solo. There are four stages to the game, all reminiscent of giant multi-tiered pinball tables, with Sonic as the ball. The standard platforming action used in earlier Sonic games is limited here, as the blue hedgehog's movement is mainly controlled by flippers, although the player can still use his Spin Dash attack to reach some areas in a hurry. In each stage, Sonic must find all of the Chaos Emeralds in a level, which will give him access to the Boss Room.
Incidentally, this is the closest fans of Sonic SatAM ever got to a licensed game based on the cartoon: Princess Sally and the other Freedom Fighters make brief cameos during Spinball's Bonus Stages. It is also one of few Sonic games to feature characters from an animated adaptation (others being Doctor Robotniks Mean Bean Machine, which follows the canon of Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, and the Sonic Boom video games, which follow the canon of the animated series of the same name - Sticks the Badger also appears in Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games).
Tropes used in Sonic Spinball:
- Absurdly Spacious Sewer: The opening level, Toxic Caves.
- Animated Adaptation: The Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog episode "Attack on Pinball Fortress", in which Sonic, Wes Weasley, and Sergeant Doberman break into Robotnik's fortress to get their hands on Robotnik's stupidity ray gun. Plotwise, it actually isn't anything like the game, but they do include a boss fight with Scorpius from the game's first level.
- Also goes in reverse: Scratch from Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog makes a cameo in one of the bonus stages.
- Autobots Rock Out: The last level's music is pretty hardcore, even for a Sonic game.
- Actually, all of the stage music is very industrial as well as the boss music. This is probably the most bass heavy piece of music in the history of the series.
- Beware My Stinger Tail: Scorpius, the boss of the Toxic Caves.
- Bonus Stage: One exists between every level, and there are some within the levels if you are able to collect all of the rings.
- Breather Level: The Machine, ironically. It's big and labyrinthene, but there are only two places to die (the twin drains at the bottom), so you can more or less relax and take your time. The Veg-O-Machine itself also turns out to be a Breather Boss... followed right thereafter by a Difficulty Spike up the butt called "The Showdown".
- Chekhov's Volcano: Not just that, but it's the entire goal of the game.
- Collapsing Lair: The final stage, "Showdown".
- Comic Book Adaptation: In issue #6 of the Archie comic. The Kangaroo Twins (featured in the Lava Powerhouse) reappeared in a later issue as a literal Kangaroo Court.
- Death Throws: If Sonic falls into lava/toxic waste/anything that causes him to lose a life, he'll slowly fall off the screen with his hands in the air.
- Disney Villain Death: Both Sonic and Eggman end up free-falling through the sky at the end. Tails catches Sonic with his newly-repaired plane, leaving Eggman to plummet into his exploding fortress. (Subverted, of course, since Eggman has famously survived worse.)
- Down the Drain: The Toxic Caves, the first level of the game.
- Eternal Engine: The Machine, the third level.
- Evil Laugh: Somewhere offscreen, Eggman emits a digitized, Kefka-esque cackle whenever you lose a life.
- Expy: The Machine stage was created based on concept art for Cyber City Zone (or more famously Genocide City Zone) a zone cut from the development of Sonic the Hedgehog 2.
- Gotta Catch Em All: The goal of each level is to collect all of the Chaos Emeralds. Doing so shuts down the factory's power.
- Have a Nice Death: Not only does the game give you the standard "TOO BAAAD" message for dying, the game also knows when you've fallen down a death chute ("BOGUS DUDE..." "BIG MISTAKE" "READY TO FRY?").
- Lethal Lava Land: The Lava Powerhouse, the second level.
- Load-Bearing Boss: Defeating each boss causes the Fortress to sink a bit further into the sea. At the game's conclusion, the entire volcano waits to explode until the exact moment Eggman falls into it.
- Pinball Protagonist: In the literal sense.
- Pinball Scoring: Duh.
- Pinball Spinoff: One of the more fitting examples, considering Sonic's ability to roll into a ball.
- Plot Coupon: You can't take on the bosses until you find the Chaos Emeralds. There are three in the first two stages, and five in the last two.
- Totally Radical: The top banner's lines, like "BOGUS DUDE", "BIG MISTAKE", AND "READY TO FRY?"
- Villain Exit Stage Left: After the usual task of nabbing emeralds, the final objective of "Showdown" is to prevent Eggman's ship from escaping.
- What Do You Mean It's Not Awesome?: Some of the stuff that comes up on the banner at the top, particularly if you read it aloud in a Large Ham manner, can sound pretty inspiring, particularly "BOTH TUBES BUSTED... ALL ANIMALS FREED! NOW, SHOOT INSIDE!!!" from the third boss. It helps that the "NOW, SHOOT INSIDE!!!" flashes brightly with multiple colours.
- Widget Series: The game is arguably among the weirdest (and creepiest) games in the overbearingly Japanese Sonic franchise, but it was actually put together by an American team - hence the SatAM influences and the dark vibe. This WHAT status was actually used in the game's marketing in Japan; Spinball was heralded as "AMERIKKANO FANKAY AKSHON!" "from U.S.A."