Spinball needs more recognition

Discussion in 'General Sonic Discussion' started by AppleSauce, Nov 4, 2020.

  1. Xilla


    OH NO! Member
    Despite its flaws, I have some fondness for Spinball. I think mainly because despite owning it for a while, I only completed it after I'd finished Sonic 3 and Knuckles in late 94. Sort of like a "Okay, I've done that, now for the ultimate challenge" kind of deal for me. I remember arguing with someone on a forum years and years ago who had stated that "The reason no-one likes the HARDEST Sonic game ever is because it has SatAM characters in it", which is a load of shite if you ask me. It's just a bit of a difficulty jump if you arrive at it after playing the mainline MD games especially with the different physics, sod all with some sprites that show up as easter eggs.

    As mentioned in the posts above though, I did always wonder what in hell was going on with Robotnik's art style in the game (And I thought his S3K spriteset was off-model....) As previously mentioned its entirely possible they went for a in-between design so it could be released in Western and Japanese territories without having to make graphical changes or storing two sets of graphics on the cart, like what was planned for SegaSonic's English release. Bear in mind though we're still a year away from the AoStH Robotnik being the "standard" depiction for him in the West, infact, the 8-bit version depicts the AoStH version for the final boss, but the SatAM incarnation for the stage title card:


    I mentioned shortly after Mania's release I would have liked to have seen a Veg-O-Fortress stage in the game to represent the "pinball" trope - with the zone simply being a standard "get to the goal" deal incorporating two Spinball stages per-act (obviously expanded into a "proper" classic Sonic level). The special stage rings could have been hidden away behind the switches and puzzles.
  2. Lostgame


    turntablist, dinosaur goddess Oldbie
    Toronto, ON
    The O.I.C.
    ...23-24 years of playing this game...and I somehow just learned this. Wow.
  3. Yeah, it does look a bit like the Satam Robotnik's robo-arm. Interesting! The yellow parts on his shoulders look to be like something from some old concept art, although I can't put my finger on what or where. It just looks familiar.

    I had this image floating around on my PC for a while, not sure where I got it from. I've seen other images where it was from a magazine where the image was in the book's crease, and I think this one was a better image of it, either that or it was cleaned up. I don't know what version is on the wiki (I couldn't find any, but I also just skimmed it), but feel free to upload this image elsewhere.

    And yeah, I totally thought that of the Buzz Bomers too. I really like those designs.
  4. Spinball was one of the first Sonic games I got excited about coming out, because it was around the time I started reading video game magazines. I had a Game Gear but no Genesis yet, so I got Sonic Chaos right away, but I was jealous of people who got to play Spinball when it came out (the Game Gear version didn't come out until later), and I didn't even know anyone who had a Sega CD.

    Looking back, I have to say Sonic Chaos always was a much better game, and Sonic CD was, in my opinion, the best of the 1993 releases by far. Unfortunately for the Sega CD, there weren't many other great reasons to get that console, but fortunately for Sonic fans, the game got a ton of re-releases.

    To be honest, Sonic Spinball was engaging enough for me to play all the way through to the end, despite struggling so hard in the Showdown level. But after playing it through at least three times, I rarely feel like I have the patience and energy to go through it again. Most of the other 2-D platformers have a lot more replay value to me.
  5. Paphvul


    Today, on "images you can hear". Truth be told, I never really took the time to try all the different settings, I just set it to "fast" because to my lizard brain "Sonic" + "fast" = good. Also, I feel like this earrape-free remix of the Options theme deserves to be shared:

    I love how the 8-bit version's inciting incident is Sonic holding on to the bottom of the plane like a dumbass and losing his grip. Apparently the Tornado was undergoing repairs, that day. And, yeah, 8-bit Spinball is dull as hell. The 16-bit one is at least vaguely fun for he first 8-12 minutes, assuming the janky physics don't turn you off.
    I actually made a case once that Sonic Spinball takes place in the Archie continuity, since the tie-in issue acts as a prequel to the game, and characters from it appear in later issues. Plus, Archie and Spinball both have elements from SatAM, the games, and AoStH, and Spinball also has an absurd number of Chaos Emeralds lying around like pre-Flynn Archie Sonic did. Not to mention, the overall tone of the game fits with that period of the comic.
  6. Vangar


    It's hard to see and i'd like to try and compare the frames sonic has in this video, but this satam demo video

    has sonic sprites that look very similar to spinball. There's a comment:

    I'd like to think Peter's memory is a bit hazy here. He seems to be recollecting a an amiga demo for Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, not SatAM. He does mention 'I had made a number of these amiga demos by then' suggesting these are no more than animated scenes that were not programmed at all. They probably made a demo for Adventures of Sonic the hedgehog also.

    Because well, Sonic Spinball is full of SatAM characters as you have pointed out. And the story here starts when them visiting DiC to see the new cartoon.

    Theory: They needed their new Sonic game for 1993. STI suggests a big adventure packed SatAM game, or was asked to pitch it. Due to extreme time constraints with no option to miss a 1993 release date, they scale way back and make a pinball-themed Sonic game, but using the SatAM assets drawn for the satam demo. Makes sense to me with all the early satam designs surrounding spinball.
  7. Ch1pper


    Fighting the Battle of Who Could Care Less Member
    You're mixing up a few things here:
    - The storyboards were by DiC directly for the cartoon.
    - The Amiga demos were done by Peter and co. on behalf of Sega/STI.
    - The Amiga demos are how he would pitch a game to Sega, like Comix Zone, so him saying "I've done a bunch of them" means he made a lot of different kinds of game pitches to Sega; not multiple Sonic games to DiC/Sonic Team.
    - Early concepts for SatAM do in fact seem to reflect a bit more WB-style wackiness and other concepts that wouldn't make the final product, and at some point Sega said something to DiC like "Well Mario has one cartoon so Sonic should have two!" so they split development into the serious SatAM and wacky AoStH.

    The confusion is understandable -- they did originally start as one show during development so the timeline of Peter's memory isn't really far off. This more than likely explains things like Scratch, Sally having black hair, Sonic's dog Muttski appearing in dog form whereas I believe he was only shown roboticized (besides a photo) and only in the pilot episode. At that point it was all just concept art for 'the Sonic cartoon', whereas Mean Bean Machine's reskin was clearly after at least the first episode of AoSTH, specifically, had been produced.
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2021
  8. Vangar


    Yes, I did understand this, my writing must not be clear. When i said 'suggesting these are no more than animated scenes that were not programmed at all' i meant the amiga demo video shown and the ones we haven't seen, are probably animated slideshows and not actual programmed games at all. The cartoon being eventually split into two brings more confusion to me on Peter's statement though. Let me try to make it easier to understand, if his memory is not wrong:

    I did a deep dive on spinball to make a development timeline of sorts, and where this fits in with the cartoons.

    • January 1993 - Sonic 3 Development begins
    • February - Treasure Tails is pitched from Craig Stitt. It's a smaller platformer game and fits the need for a christmas release, but is rejected.
    • Somewhere between March and June - Sonic team realises Sonic 3 won't be done for Christmas 1993, but they need a game done by the end of the year. Marketing says that Casino night is the most popular level in Sonic 2, so it should be based around that instead. Spinball needed to be completed in well under a year now.
    • The earliest original storyboards show Eggman's Japanese designs (they actually have a strong similarity to how the segasonic arcade version looks between levels):

    • 15 June - Spinball Development begins
    • 15 August - Spinball completed
    • After the game is complete, STI visit DiC who are working on a new cartoon and see early storyboards, not animation, don't like it. (See story above)
    • Peter and co. make an Amiga demo that looks like it's based on the serious satam
    • 6 September - Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog first episode aired
    • 18 September - SatAM first aired
    • 14 November - Sonic Spinball Released
    • 26 November - Mean Bean Machine Released

    This is where I get a bit confused with the timeline. The game was made in 61 days. Somewhere STI/Sonic Team decided to make the game have characters and a style from 'the sonic cartoon'. The story from Peter suggests they never even the cartoon until after Spinball and were upset with the wackines in storyboards - not shown animation.

    Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog aired a mere 22 days after spinball was complete, and satam aired 12 days after that. That's not enough days for the cartoons to be made with that story in that position.

    I'd really like to find out if the satam demo video was made before or after spinball.

    It still makes sense to me that Peter's remembering seeing early storyboards from a visit in feb before spinball, before the cartoon was redeveloped into two (and using both characters in spinball after that). And perhaps a 2nd visit in late august to see satam after Sonic team asked for a more serious cartoon from feb, and create the satam demo there, with stronger concepts (the demo looks very strongly towards final satam).
  9. Kurk


    Funky Kong Member
    @Vangar AFAIK Sonic Spinball actually finished development in September 1993. The final build of Spinball was dated September 22nd, 1993 in Sega's final ROM archive, and the latest available prototype of Spinball is the recently dumped build from September 17th, 1993.
  10. Vangar


    That's probably because of the last minute music change they had to make, or Peter is very unreliable, which is what i've been trying to conclude this whole time. From an article in Retro Gamer:


    EDIT: Plus a later completion date would pin that meeting with the early storyboards for 'the sonic cartoon' in an impossible timeframe for the cartoon to be made.
  11. Ch1pper


    Fighting the Battle of Who Could Care Less Member
    Yeah, rereading it, something's off. Either that or they went to DiC expecting storyboards from SatAM and DiC being DiC (constantly mixing up the two) they presented storyboards from AoStH. Maybe they went to DiC before and after Spinball and the later time was in preparation of the Mean Bean reskin? It's very unclear.
  12. Pengi



    Where is this from?
  13. Vangar


  14. Taylor


    Yeah, there was gonna be an underground level as the first stage. Seems like they folded it into Toxic Caves.

    Anyway, I dig Spinball's grimy aesthetic but the actual gameplay is not good for all the reasons stated. I have to agree that if anything it's over-represented for all the reasons Dark Sonic has said. If it was some Arcade or Game Gear only title no one would care about it.
  15. Can't remember where, but I read that toxic caves was originally level 2, and was instead called toxic pools. The first level (whose name escapes me) was "____ caves" and got turned into the bottom half of the toxic caves table (the part with the robot in the water). Interestingly, toxic pools kept it's original name in the 8-bit version.

    I'm no sonic historian, feel free to correct me if any of this is wrong.
  16. Sid Starkiller

    Sid Starkiller

    Virginia, USA
    Paying off student loans
    Went looking for the file for you on the wiki. No idea why it's rotated 90 degrees, but here you go:

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  17. The Game Collector

    The Game Collector

    Washington State, USA
    Being Ted Narcotic's bass player; working on Kelly Kristjanson's tape archive; collecting video games
    I would love to see you do something with your idea of making a split disassembly if you can figure it out. Even things like simple Sprite swaps like "Tails in Sonic Spinball" would be cool. Just for the fact that it's never been done. What I'd really love to see is somebody hack other X-Men into X-Men 2.
  18. Vangar


    I had some free time, so here's the image rotated, skewed and warped back into shape as best I could:


  19. Found this today. I'm sure other people have seen this already, but I wanted to bring it up.

    This book (apparently released in '93) has elements of both SatAM and AoSTH. Maybe this sheds some light into the whole thing?
  20. LordOfSquad


    bobs over baghdad Member
    Winnipeg, MB
    making cool music no one gives a shit about
    lmao I stole that book from my preschool when I was 3 years old. good times.

    I don't really know if the book itself can give any new info on the situation considering it no doubt came from the same SatAM/AoSTH/Archie early-days-tie-in-product miasma/timeframe that Spinball and everything else from that particular era did. Nice little trip down memory lane though.