Sonic - Retrospective and Trivia [part 2]

We continue into spin-off territory and look at a lot of Sonic merch, such as toys and books.
June 03, 2013
Welcome back to the always exciting Sonic the Hedgehog - Retrospective and Trivia article saga.

Last time on the article that only got 6 thumbs up,we looked into the original Genesis titles and my personal memories, but now we're leaping into the spin-off titles and some merchandise that helped make Sonic the pop-cultural icon he is today.

This Game is Harder Than a Rock: Sonic Spinball

Ah, Sonic Spinball. Another game that has a horrible pun associated with the game. Going off on a rant for a second but "SPINBALL"? Really? That is just stupid, and it'll make sense in a second. For anyone who's read my earlier articles, you know I think this game is pretty good, not as good as the main series titles, but it's still a good time. Or, should I say WAS a good time. I've played the game again recently, and it is not as good as I remembered. You see, Sonic 3 was suffering a delay, and Sega needed to get something out for the fans. Thus, this game was made. I remember getting this game and I couldn't even get past the very first stage. I could never figure out what the goal of the game was and what I was supposed to do. However, as I got older, I gradually learned that you have to explore the stages and find 3-5 Chaos Emeralds. However, this isn't your ordinary Sonic game. It's a pinball game. That's right. A pinball game that involves platforming.

This was one of those video games that I would play for a few minutes, and then stop playing out of pure frustration. Basically, you play as Sonic, who's been caught victim to Robotnik's traps. Rather than killing him right there, Robotnik subjects Sonic to a bunch of pinball courses. This plan was so stupid, the OFFICIAL SEGA COMPILATION for the XBOX 360 makes fun of this in the trivia section, saying "A pinball fortress, really?". Anywho, like I said, you play as Sonic, who takes the place of the pinball. This was always a concept I thought was weird, and what made me more confused was the fact they brought it back in so many games. I used to think as a child PETA would be all over Sega for this. Still, after all these years, PETA has not attacked Sega's blue blur at all, but yet, they attack Cooking Mama and Mario. Huh. Because that's makes sense.

I remember being exposed to this game specifically. Firstly, my father is what I would like to call the "Pinball Wizard". Every time my father and I would go to the arcade, he would always go over to the pinball machines, and he would always destroy that thing. Seriously, nobody in our family was ever good at pinball, so when we went to the arcade, I would always watch my father play pinball. So, when I heard there was a SONIC THE HEDGEHOG Pinball game, I couldn't wait to get it so my father could try it out! We got the game, popped it in, my father tried it out, and he never touched the video game ever since. I was saddened. Why didn't he want to play the game? Well, I'll you why. THIS GAME WAS WAY TOO FRICKIN' DIFFICULT!!!! Seriously, when you think about pinball, you wouldn't think it would be that hard at all. However, Sonic Spinball proves that even pinball can be Satan's recommended method of torture.

Basically, you use the individual flippers with the A and B buttons, or you could use the C button to use both flippers at once. There are 4 stages in the whole game not including the bonus tables: Toxic Caves, Lava Powerhouse, The Machine, and The Showdown. What's with the names, did they just give up halfway through writing them? The first two names were incredibly unique and wacky, and then there's just "the Machine and the Showdown". I remember being a kid, and, wait. I don't remember these levels. You want to know why? IT'S STILL TOO FRICKIN' HARD! Even though I got better gradually as I got older, but I have never, and I mean NEVER, beat this game. Like I said, my father never played the game. However, he did watch me play. When he watched me, all he would do is say:

"Why are you getting so angry over a stupid video game?"
"Anthony, it's just a game".
"Yeah, and it's a hard one!"

Overall, despite being really frustrating, the pinball mechanics are pretty fun to play with. If you think the game is getting too frantic, you can always lower the speed in the "Options" menu. Even nowadays, I still do that. The platforming is there, although it doesn't really show up all that much. However, Sonic's platforming controls are HORRIBLE. They are incredbily clunky and even buggy! Like I said, these parts don't pop up too much at all during the gameplay. I get that it's running off a different engine, but when crap like THIS keeps happening every time Sonic lands on the ground, it's a bit of a problem!

Other than that, there just isn't too much to say about this game. The visuals are very appealing and bright, and for a kid, that's all you could ask for. Well, I suppose you might be asking for a good game as well. The music is wondeful, some of the best in the series, and the pinball mechanics are fun to play with. While the game was pretty good, it didn't sell nearly as well as you might think. So, figuratively, SEGA would want to try a different concept. Thus, Sega attempted to do a 3D Sonic the Hedgehog adventure. But, oh no, not on the Saturn or even the 32X, no. Sega made their "3D title" for the plain old Sega Genesis. That's right. A 16-bit 3D game. Oh god.

This is fact I know nobody will know. There was another version of Sonic Spinball released in 1993. It shares the same title screen music as Sonic 1 and 2. This was the only difference. You see, the band "Dreams Come True" made that melody, and they owned the rights to that song. Sega didn't want to have to pay for the song, so a new version of the game was released with different title screen music. Also, in the European version, some songs were sped up for some reason. How odd.

Gag Me with a Fork, Please: Sonic 3D Blast

OH GOD. Why did I even...ugh. Let's just get this done and over with. Sonic 3D Blast was a Sega Genesis title released in 1996, and is it any good? In my opinion, no. Is it the worst Sonic game ever? That may be a bit of a stretch. This was one of those games I had to go out of my way to buy. I don't know what intrigued me, for I already owned Sonic Adventure 1 for the Dreamcast at the time, but nonetheless, I wasted money. In this game, you don't run around doing exciting platforming challenges or even playing a dastardly game of pinball, no, in this game, you run around the stages collecting birds.

I don't understand why Sega went in this direction with Sonic. If they couldn't make it a fast-paced 3D platformer on the Sega Genesis, why didn't they just move the game over to the Sega Saturn? Ugh. Anyways, what I'm about to tell you is a true story. I remember buying this game for my Genesis and popping it in. Before I even completed the first stage, I got a headache and had to stop playing. You have to suck pretty bad to give me a headache during gameplay.

So, one of the biggest problems with this game is that it is a Sega Genesis title attempting to be a 3D game. Moving around a 3D world using a D-pad is probably one of the worst things ever. Trying to jump on enemies in 3D is incredibly annoying. No matter how hard you try, you keep missing. Luckily, the Spin-Dash returns, making enemy encounters a breeze. However, the Spin-Dash is mapped to a separate button, which I actually don't mind. It's a good change that's in the 3D games to this day. Also, Sonic gets the Homing Shield in this game, which allows Sonic to home in on items and enemies. This is another change I love. This maneuver is also still in the games to this day, although you don't need a shield to do it.

The graphics look OK, but some stages just look like a complete mess, like Spring Stadium for one example. Like, seriously. This was the furthest I ever got in the whole game because I had no idea where I was going and I would rage quit. The music is great, and some melodies were reused for later Sonic games, such as Sonic Adventure for one example. As a child, I thought this game was really hard. Back then, I never was able to beat the third stage. Nowadays, I can get a little further, but I don't get any enjoyment out of playing the game.I hate to be Mr. Negative, but this is honestly how I feel about this accursed game.

A obscure reference! Hooray!

This game was made in 1996, during a time period I like to call "Sonic Down in the Dumps Part 1 (1995-1998)". At the time, Sonic was just releasing a bunch of crap at the time (Tails Adventure, Tails Skypatrol, Sonic Blast, Sonic Labyrinth, Sonic Schoolhouse, and Sonic R) and this game certainly didn't help. I would transition into Sonic Adventure at this point, but there's one game we're forgetting. But first...


The demo version of Sonic 3D Blast had some slight differences. Different boss music, a different title screen, all sorts of minor oddities. However, the change that interests me the most is a graphical error on the main menu. In the final product, Sonic is looking at the menu selections. However, in the demo, Sonic's eyes are...uh...just look at the picture.

You Get to Play the Games...on a CD!!!: Sonic CD

Sonic CD was released in 1993 for the failed Sega Genesis add-on codenamed the Sega CD/Mega CD. To be honest, I never got to play this game until a couple of years ago. Even then, I still thought the game was pretty fun. I felt the need to bring attention to this title because it is talked about a lot when people bring up the classic Sonic games. Firstly, the first thing I have to bring attention to is the fantastic opening cutscene. The animation is simply spectacular, and the art direction is pretty cool.

The story is that a planet materialized out of thin air, and Robotnik wants to take control of it. Sonic, being the environmentalist he is, races onward towards the planet. Once there, he finds a pink rodent named Amy Rose. At first, she does nothing but follow Sonic, but then, Robotnik kidnaps Amy using his newest contraption, Metal Sonic, and it's up to Sonic to save both the world and Amy. And also the flowers. See, in the previous games, Robotnik puts animals inside the robots. In this game, however, he puts flowers inside the robots. Most of these robots are easy to kill, so I guess that's why he moved back to Hamster Power in the next game.

Sonic CD's stages are basically re-imaginings of the original Sonic 1 stages. I mean, the layout and gimmicks of the stages are different, but the looks of the stages are just brighter versions of Sonic 1's stages. At the end of this article will be a chart of the similar stages. Anyways, most stages are incredibly fun and addicting. The bright colors will definitely catch your eye, and like I said earlier, kids love bright colors. The graphics themselves are fantastic, and have a lot of 3D depth to them. The soundtrack is amazing. I'm not kidding. It is AMAZING. One of the best soundtracks I've ever heard in any movie or video games. It's catchy, it's wacky, it's atmospheric, it's everything one could ask for. Back on the topic of stages, they aren't all great stuff, although most are fantastic. There is one stage. One just full of misery and despair. WACKY WORKBENCH ZONE. I mean, by god. Everything is wrong with this stage. Cheap deaths, a huge bouncy floor, confusing navigation, annoying stage gimmicks, cryptic robot generators, awkward collision detection, GOD THIS STAGE SUCKS!

The main gimmick of this game is time travel. For instance, if you ran past a sign that said "PAST" and you maintained a good speed, you would travel back in time and vice-versa for the "FUTURE" time period. You see, in the Past, you can find Robot Generators. Blow 'em up, and you guarantee a good future for that stage. Do this in every level and you get a good future. The exploration-type gameplay, although a bit cryptic at times, is still pretty fun. It's a fun mechanic I wish would return in a newer title. If you don't want to do that, you can get the 7 Time Stones through this game's Special Stages. UGH! Time for story time again, children! Gather around on the rug, sit criss-cross applesauce! Okay, let's do this!

Once upon a time, (5 years ago), I was playing Sonic CD. I was on the final stage. I NEEDED to get the final Time Stone before I beat the game. I wanted that Good Future. So, whilst playing the game, a few of my friends were looking over my shoulder, watching me. I had to get to the end of the FINAL STAGE with 50 rings to go to the special stage. After (roughly) 14 deaths, 7 restarts, and 1 rage quit, I finally got to the special stage. These special stages were so difficult, because you had to destroy 6 UFO's in 100 seconds. If you land in the water, you'd lose 10 seconds. Two problems with this Special Stage. 1) TOO MUCH WATER, and 2) THE UFO'S ARE TOO FAST! So, after jumping around like a mad-man, palms sweating, pressure, and 1 second left on the timer, I lost. I know you're used to my insane luck, but I lost. I threw a huge fit, and even though I was at the end of the game, I reset the whole game just to get another shot. The second run, I got the final special stage on Stardust Speedway, beat the game with the good ending, and won at living.

Sonic CD holds up pretty well to the other Genesis titles compared to some of the other games released in the 90's. With fantastic graphics, superb gameplay, unique twists on the formula, awesome soundtrack, and good level design, Sonic CD is a game I think a lot of people can get enjoyment out of. Is it as good as Sonic 3 and Knuckles? Nah. Is it close? REALLY FRIGGIN' CLOSE! If you haven't played any of the main series titles or this game, please do. These games show why Sonic is even a popular icon in media today.

Welp, that's it for this time. Tune in to part 3, where we discuss the Dreamcast/Saturn games and take a look at 2 of the original series. With all this said, I'm SegaFanatic, writing articles on things I love, and take care!
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