Sonic Spinball, Sega (1993), Mega Drive

Sonic_Spinball_Box

Oh, fuck me. I’m sorry, I’m honestly not doing this on purpose, I actually love Sonic. YOU DON’T KNOW HIM LIKE I DO.

Plot

Bear with me, I honestly had no idea that Sonic Spinball had a plot, so I’m piecing this together using the power of lies on the internet. Let’s see here….Dr Robotnik…evil plan….Veg-O-Fortress?! What?….chaos emeralds…yep, that’ll do – put some red sneakers on it, and push it out the door!

Presentation

So at the time, Spinball was praised for it’s graphics – I have no source for this beyond this being the second ever Mega Drive game that I ever owned. My (somehow senile, apparently) little mind was in awe of Spinball’s…well, I’m not quite sure really. The character models are fine, but the levels are just an absolute misery to behold, and the silver/grey/purple/green colour palette is about as unpleasing to the eye as you’d imagine. It’s not awful looking, just a bit drab, really. That being said, there are some occasional hellish framerate issues that are tough to get past.

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Club foot Sonic will jump out of this guys mouth and…straight back into his mouth. The controls aren’t good.

Gameplay

Wait, is this a pinball game with Sonic happening in it, or a Sonic game with pinball happening in it? Anyway, the crux of the matter is that Spinball is effectively a pinball game with some platforming elements, with the goal of each level being to grab the chaos emerald. The problem lies with Sega seemingly being unsure in which direction they’d rather lean. Sonic controls as though Spinball were a platform (albeit incredibly sluggishly), but the levels are designed with pinball in mind – and my stars, does the platforming ever suffer as a result. Requiring some of the most infuriating pixel perfect jumping ever designed, you’re gonna get really well acquainted with the game over screen before all is said and done.

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Ugh. This cap gives me PTSD.

 

Possibly the worst instance of this is the metal drum you need to land in and use as a boat in the first level, which honestly seems to have a hit-box smaller than the drum itself. Missing it means you’ll bin it into the green sludge and lose a life, and there’s no way out of the chamber. What rollicking fun. The hit-box issue wouldn’t be so bad were it not for how poorly Sonic controls. For clarity, imagine playing any other Sonic game, but Sonic has a shit-ton of rocks in his pockets. It’s not fun, and it certainly isn’t easy. Couple this with the fact that Sonic doesn’t even behave like a pinball when he hits a bumper, and it’s just a bit of a disaster.

Verdict

It’s not like Sonic Spinball is unplayable, or even a bad idea. In fact, it’s a very good idea, and I would argue that the bare bones of a good game are here, it’s just poorly executed. Frustrating, clumsy, unforgiving and a real shame.

Pros : It’s a genuinely good idea, and a decent little fan service.

Cons : Moves sluggishly, miserable colour palette, hideous hit detection, tedious boss battles

45%

 

Back In The Day

Sonic Spinball was developed in an astounding 61 days in order to rush a Sonic game to market in time for Christmas 1993, whereupon it received mixed to poor reviews – mainly due to it’s poor controls and gameplay. So it’s not that astounding, really.

Kirby’s Adventure. Hal Laboratory (1993) Nintendo

I bagged on Kirby’s Dream Land, and in hindsight I feel a little bad about it. It was ludicrously short, and childlike in difficulty, but it was supposed to be and in retrospect I don’t really think some of my issues were fair. So going into Kirby’s Adventure I tried to remain a little more open minded. Continue reading

Sunset Riders. Konami (1993) Super Nintendo

For a while now people have been telling me to try Sunset Riders out, and while I wasn’t ignoring them I just couldn’t be fucked paying the exorbitant prices for a copy in the UK. Fortunately I have found a Spanish retailer that will post to the UK meaning I was able to get this for £35 including postage, which is a saving of about £60. So WOOOOOOOOOOO!

Anyway, the game came highly recommended, so prepare for me to shit all over your dreams! Continue reading

Total Carnage. Malibu Games/Black Pearl (1993) Super Nintendo

I kinda liked Super Smash TV, it was bloody difficulty, but if you were in the zone, and everything just “clicked” it was bloody fun and a hell of a laugh.

So what would Acclaim do to follow that great game up? Well, them being a lazy game developer they pretty much reskinned Super Smash TV into a Faux-Schwarzenegger commando type military shooter in the vein of MERCS. Continue reading

Golden Axe 3. Sega AM7 (1993) Sega Genesis

No western cover art exists

No western cover art exists

I really didn’t like Golden Axe, and while Golden Axe II was slightly better, it still wasn’t a good game. So rather than prolonging my suffering I decided to play the final installment in the Golden Axe saga (that isn’t an arcade exclusive, or a Sega Game Gear game). Golden Axe 3 was a Japan exclusive, but did feature on the Sega Channel for a while in the US, but on the whole, isn’t the most well known of the three.

So where does Golden Axe 3 sghape up then, and have they finally polished a turd? Continue reading

Streets of Rage II. Sega (1993) Sega Genesis

streets_of_rage_ii_mega_drive

I like Streets of Rage, it holds up in a way that Golden Axe simply doesn’t, and like the inevitability of the tide, I come to Streets of Rage 2, arguably the best of the trilogy.

With that, it isn’t a question of *IF* SoR2 is better, more a question of *HOW MUCH* better SoR2.

Oh, and I really like the Japanese title for the game, Bare Knuckle II: The Requiem of the Deadly Battle.  Continue reading