Developer: Sega
Price: $2.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPod touch 4G

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★½☆
Game Controls Rating: ★★★★☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

Sega’s out to release their entire Genesis back catalog for iOS, it seems. And why shouldn’t they; their Genesis emulator is impressive, only limited by the lack of physical controls (which Gunstar Heroes especially suffered from). Next up in Sega’s slate of Genesis re-releases is Sonic Spinball, the hybrid of traditional Sonic gameplay and pinball developed in the US by Sega Technical Institute. Your goal is to try to collect the Chaos Emeralds in each level, which are set up as pinball tables; unlike standard pinball games, as you are controlling a character instead of a metal ball, you have some control over where Sonic goes while in mid-air, and there are occasional on-foot sections in the game. Otherwise, the elements are fairly standard pinball – plenty of tunnels and ramps to hit, and switches to activate.

Sonic Spinball holds up so well because of the fact that there isn’t really any other game like it; even other mascot-based pinball games have never felt quote in tune with their source character as this game does. The level design is something that’s never really been replicated in other pinball games, particularly as it is based on exploring the board and mastering its mechanics to progress. The on-screen buttons work well, as you have the d-pad for moving Sonic, and buttons for left, right, and both flipper controls. As well, fans of the old Saturday morning Sonic cartoon will love seeing some of the characters make a rare video game appearance in the bonus stages. And of course, Sega’s Genesis emulator is still first class, running without a hitch on newer A4-powered devices.

Of course, the big issue with Sonic Spinball is that it is clear it wasn’t developed by the original Sonic developers, as the game looks and feels different physics-wise from the other Sonic games. This is especially noticable in the occasional on-foot sections. Some kind of Game Center support for a game like this would be a much appreciated feature as well. Also, can Sega please update their iOS emulator to support the iPad natively?

While Sonic Spinball may have the most value to those who remember it fondly from the Genesis days, it still does enough unique things for the pinball genre that it’s still worth checking out for both pinball game fans and for casual Sonic fans who may not have played the game back on the Genesis. Keep these classics coming, Sega.

Posted in: Games, iPhone Apps and Games, Reviews

Tagged with: , , , , , ,