SEGA 1993

Sonic Spinball

One of the most highly anticipated games of the 16-Bit era, Sonic The Hedgehog 2, has just become a huge hit. It easily became the bestselling game for the Mega Drive / Genesis and best 16-Bit selling title thus far. SEGA, eager to please gamers with more from their mascot deliver Sonic Spinball (Spinball) - a spin-off title courtesy of SEGA of America about a year after Sonic 2 and is the first game that deviates from the established Sonic style of gameplay.

Sonic Spinball Case (European)

Sonic Spinball (European)


Dr. Robotnik has another base…the Veg-O-Fortress. With this he intends to speed up the rate in which he replaces the animal inhabitants of the planet into robotic slaves.

The Veg-O-Fortress is embedded inside an active volcano with a plentiful supply of energy from a geothermal reaction of the magma underneath.


Approaching the Veg-O Fortress

Sonic is enroute to destroy this base which is protected by a sophisticated pinball style defence system.


Spinball, as the name suggests has a gameplay style rooted in the mechanics of a pinball machine essentially being an entire game based on Spring Yard Zone and Casino Night Zone, however complimenting this is gameplay tweaks attributable to Sonic games.

Sonic is the only playable character and for the majority of the game will curled up in his signature ball position as he ricochets off the various objects within the pinball labyrinth. And rather than traversing each level typically left to right, the journey is chiefly upwards which multiple redirections ultimately to a fight with Robotnik in the top room.

The banner across the top of the screen will detail critical information such as lives, score ect along with various useful and non-useful comments.

The D-Pad LEFT and RIGHT allow Sonic to walk and run. Buttons ABC are all JUMP and a Spin-Dash can be performed by holding DOWN and pressing any button repeatedly.

Buttons will also control flippers and activate some of the objects about the courses most notably flippers. Button A will control left flippers, Button B will control right flippers and Button C will control both flippers.

The goal is to locate every Chaos Emerald in each of the four levels of the fortress, the amount of which vary and curiously are of the same colour. As a sidenote, Spinball is an oddity violating the established total of 7 Chaos Emeralds.

A path must be opened to gain access to any Chaos Emerald usually requiring destruction of specific enemies and hitting certain targets. Once this is done an event specific to the level will occur. For example, in Toxic Caves, sludge will be drained from a container housing a Chaos Emerald.

Toxic Caves Toxic Caves

Gaining a Chaos Emerald

When Sonic has all the Chaos Emeralds, the route to the fight with Robotnik is opened. Upon defeat a Bonus Level is played where extra points and continue credits can be earned. These are specific to each level and are closer to a traditional style of pinball. Inside, Sonic himself is not the ball. He is replaced by three balls in order to complete a specific task.

The visual style of the game was a departure at the time and still is somewhat unique within the Sonic spectrum. Though Sonic himself animates rather slowly, he sports a look which is much more expressive.

The environments are well detailed and placement of enemies and hazards is not too harsh. It all just seems to move rather slowly though. Thankfully this can be tweaked via the games options to making it feel more comfortable.

Unfortunately, the audio is somewhat lacklustre compared to the two previous games. Both music and audio effects sound rough but not unbearable.

Overall Spinball can be rather challenging in the sense there can be some frustrating sections which will be repeated over and over if timing the use of a flipper is slightly off, and the default speed of the game is somewhat slow and can add to this. The levels themselves are not too long.


Spinaball provides limited options. They are:

Mode – Select the amount of players between 1 and 4. Default is 1.

Speed – The default is Normal as opposed to Fast which feels better.

Music – Toggle the in game music on or off. Default is on.

Flipper – Assign the buttons to control flippers.

Options Screen


Sonic Spinball Screenshots

Toxic Caves

This is essentially a sewer at the bottom of the fortress. Beware of standing for too long on the lowest platform between the flippers as Rexxon the robotic sea serpent will try to eat Sonic.

The enemy line-up consists of: Cluck, Rexxon and Magma Worm.

Toxic Caves Toxic Caves
Toxic Caves Toxic Caves

Lava Powerhouse

This is the power source for the fortress and thus is very hot. The plentiful amounts of lava pose an enormous risk to Sonic.

Enemies deployed are Cluck and Ferron.

Lava Powerhouse Lava Powerhouse
Lava Powerhouse Lava Powerhouse

The Machine

The area where the helpless animals are being transformed into Badniks – that is robotic slaves.

Enemies encountered will be Vulture and Buster.

The Machine The Machine
The Machine The Machine

The Showdown

As the Veg-O-Fortress crumbles as the volcano erupts Robotnik makes his escape as usual.

The only enemy is Krondor.

The Showdown The Showdown
The Showdown The Showdown

Bonus Stages

Bonus Stage 1 Bonus Stage 2

After Toxic Cave (1) – Release the animals by destroying the seven robots. Robotnik must be avoided whom is cruising around in his Egg Mobile.

After Lava Powerhouse (2) – Take out the four teeth on Robotnik’s giant head and the targets on the back.

Bonus Stage 3 Bonus Stage 4

After The Machine (3) – Knock the enemies out of the way to be able to destroy the robot machine.

There is a final Bonus Stage that can be played with three balls at once. By collecting all of the rings inside of a level and then finding a ring of stars, Sonic is transported to a multi-ball stage. The goal is to destroy the crab protected by two invincible cluckers.


Level Select – All Versions

From the Options screen press: A, Down, B, Down, C, Down, A, B, Up, A, C, Up, B, C, Up. A notification will sound if done correctly.

To use, hold A and press Start for level 2, hold B and press Start for level 3, or hold C and press Start for level 4. Hold the combination until the title screen disappears.

Unlimited Lives

With only one life remaining, locate the barrels in Toxic Caves. They are on the second level right chamber.

Unlimited Lives

Jump in a barrel and move rightwards the wall away from the Chaos Emerald. Jump out of the barrel and intentionally lose a life. Sonic will seem to die twice. "Game Over" will appear.

The level will restart with "Launching An Extra Ball" in the banner granting unlimited lives. Also, there will be no number of lives displayed where it normally appears.


The 8-Bit versions came in 1994 and early 1995 and are more or less the same at their 16-Bit counterparts albeit with some tweaks and additions. The original cartridges are now somewhat rare to find.

The Master System version released in Latin America and Europe and is identical to the Game Gear version except for some slight visual changes.

Sonic Spinball (Master System Eurpean)

Sonic Spinball (Master System Eurpean)

The levels, style and their enemies remain the same yet the layout is different.

As expected, it is obviously a much scaled down version and it plays accordingly. Physics suffer and speed is halved.

One addition is that of hidden rooms which will contain a monitor which will provide a cheat for the game. Scoring has been tweaked a little with values for items such as rings adjusted.

Bonus stages are different and the perspective does not change when entering them. Sonic enters a cage or fish tank furnished with bumpers, treasure boxes, rings and mechanical birds or fish. The object is to collect as many goodies within the time limit.

Smash open a treasure box and it could potentially be worth: 10 Rings, 1-Up, 1000 points, a continue credit or extra time.

Grab at least half the rings in the cage/tank and Sonic can move onto another to a maximum of 3 but be warned that failure to make it to the exit within the time limit will mean you do not get to keep any of the items collected.

Another addition is the chance to earn a free ball (continue) can be won upon getting Game Over by stopping the on screen spinning roulette wheel that appears by matching these four numbers with the last four numbers in the current score.

This version has been included on Sonic Gems Collection and Sonic Adventure DX as an unlockable game.

THE STAGES (SCREENSHOTS) Master System and Game Gear

Sonic Spinball Master System Screenshots
Sonic Spinball (Master System) Sonic Spinball (Master System) Sonic Spinball (Master System)
Sonic Spinball (Master System) Sonic Spinball (Master System) Sonic Spinball (Master System)
Sonic Spinball (Master System) Sonic Spinball (Master System) Sonic Spinball (Master System)
Sonic Spinball (Master System) Sonic Spinball (Master System) Sonic Spinball (Master System)


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