Sonic Spinball Takes Sega Mascot into Popular Arcade Machine – November 23rd, 1993 – Today in Video Game History

Sonic Spinball Sega Genesis Pinball

Sonic Spinball is one of those few times a company got it right. Well, at least as far as what the character was suited for. Sonic the Hedgehog can turn into a ball to speed through levels. Taking that idea and going the pinball route makes sense. Another time Sega got it right was Sonic R, a racing game – you know, because he runs fast. Anyhow, let us take a look at that one time Sonic beat Nintendo to a new mascot genre.

Sonic Spinball gameplay and story

There is a story to Sonic Spinball. It is off the walls though. I want to focus on the fact that this is one of the few Sonic games based on the animated series. The series with Jaleel White voicing Sonic that is.

This is something I am not sure why, but Sega did not do more of. You had a popular cartoon, why not capitalize on it more? Maybe they were concerned about muddying the gaming waters had they done that.

Even here in Sonic Spinball, they do not make a big deal out of that connection. The idea is presented like just another off-beat scheme by Dr. Robotnik.

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I cannot really fault Sega for this because Nintendo was in the same boat. At least Sega had one game based in the cartoon universe, one more than Nintendo had for Mario’s animated successes.

Popular in arcades, not so much in video games

Ever since Atari’s Midnight Magic hit the Atari 2600, companies have tried bringing home the popular arcade game. Nintendo had Pinbot on their NES console. There is fantasy based takes on it too such as Alien Crush and Devil’s Crush on TurboGrafx-16.

Sega finally took the plunge and created their own take on the popular arcade game. Thus, we have Sonic Spinball.

Pinball games have never done great anywhere other than physical editions. This could be because the machines are so visceral, you can bump them and manipulate the ball slightly. Tapping a button for that effect is not nearly the same.

Still though, Sonic Spinball did good enough numbers to acquiesce Sega. That is, it filled the hole between Sonic 2 and Sonic 3, which would not release until the following year. This is one of the few times Sega made the right move at the right time.

Were you a fan of pinball in general or even Sonic Spinball? What are your top pinball games? Let me know in the comments below.

Carl Williams

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