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Sega Jewels #1

What is it? Sonic Spinball

Where is it? The SEGA Mega Drive Mini

As I've said before, I was not a SEGA kid growing up, so this game passed me by. Which is a crying shame. Rarely has a game's subject fit its star so well. pinball and the blue blur just goes. Dr Robotnik is up to his usual tricks, stealing the Chaos Emeralds and enslaving Sonic's woodland pals. What follows is a pinball/platforming hybrid like no other. For the most part you don't control Sonic, you get him about by using the flippers and bouncing off of the various bumpers, you're only able to steer him when he's in the air. The levels (of which there are 4) are massive for a pinball game and intricate. With repeated play it becomes clear what you need to do. The Chaos Emeralds are hidden around the games' worlds, sometimes hiding in plain sight. The only way to progress to fight the boss at the end of the level and progress to the next table is to find them.

But what is for the first level a learning experience is by the second attritional. You see, at the start, when Sonic falls into the water/acid goop, there's a platform and a barrel for him to land on and, with a bit of skill and judgement, he can bounce off of these and continue playing. But, by the second level, there're no platforms or barrels to land on. This is not a dealbreaker, but what might be is the fact that Sonic only has 3 lives. That's it.

it's not the end of the world if you don't progress to the next level, though (well not straight away anyway), because, as well as being a Sonic adventure like no other, the game is also a high-score junkies' dream. I've lost hours to this game and I'm still discovering different routes to travel and ways to play.

So whilst it isn't (by any stretch of the imagination) an easy game, it is (in spite of its super-toughness) a good one. Just don't expect to be finishing it on your first go.


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