Sonic Spinball (Sniper)
Genre: Pinball
Developer: Sega
Publisher: Sega

In sharp contrast to the surrealistic main series games, Sonic Spinball offers a refreshingly bleak, dreary window into Sonic's world. This kind of gritty, detailed presentation looks strikingly good on the Game Gear's little interlaced screen. The player can't see as much of the stage as he can in the later Master System version-- which is otherwise the nearly identical game-- and the awesome bonus stages from the Genesis version are not present, probably due to a lack of RAM or screen resolution. But the game's character is much more important than either of those shortcomings.

With all due apologies to Yuzo Koshiro's various efforts on the platform, this Sonic Spinball adaptation has the best music this reviewer has ever heard from the Game Gear! Compositions are spunky and edgy, complimenting the game's gloomy visuals. They also make heavy use of chords that start and stop on a dime, an effect which pops via the Game Gear's PSG. Sound effects are also excellent; the steam buildup noise from the second stage never gets old!

Critics railed against the Genesis original's imprecise and rather wonky physics, and those same critics would undoubtedly claim that same fault with this Game Gear adaptation. And yet, to this reviewer's eyes and hands, that argument-- however valid-- is borderline irrelevant because the controls and physics just work within the confines of the game's rather well-designed, fun-to-expore pinball machine-like stages.

The Genesis' Sonic Spinball was a six month, rushed project pushed out by the Sega Technical Institute when it became apparent that Sonic 3 wouldn't make the 1993 holiday season. This handheld version was produced the following year, and, like many titles adapted for the Game Gear, it has a kind of sulky innervation that reflects an acute contrast from its television-based big brother, which makes for a highly enjoyable "on the go" experience.

Sniper's verdict: