Sonic Pinball Party (ソニック ピンボール パーティー Sonikku Pinbōru Pātī?) is a pinball-themed video game in the Sonic the Hedgehog series released for the Game Boy Advance in 2003. Developed by Jupiter and Sonic Team, the game is a spin-off title featuring references to other games developed by Sonic Team. Sonic the Hedgehog, NiGHTS into Dreams and Samba de Amigo are the most prominent franchises featured, along with characters from Burning Rangers, Phantasy Star Online and Chu-Chu Rocket.
Sonic Pinball Party contains three pinball boards along with different multiplayer modes and mini-games. Like many Sonic the Hedgehog titles on the Game Boy Advance, Sonic Pinball Party also contains the Tiny Chao Garden.
The Story Mode of Sonic Pinball Party is set right after Dr. Eggman's previous attempt to take over the world which was foiled by Sonic the Hedgehog. Taking place in Casinopolis, numerous Animals visiting the place are being kidnapped by Dr. Eggman and transformed into his robotic slaves. In addition, the doctor has brainwashed Tails and Amy into serving him. To defeat Eggman's plans, Sonic enters the pinball tournament dubbed the Egg Cup Tournament.
Sonic manages to defeat Knuckles in the first match and restores Tails and Amy to normal after beating them during the second and semi-final matches. He then defeats Metal Sonic in the final match, only for Dr. Eggman to enter and challenge Sonic to an extra match. In the end, Sonic wins after the fifth match, defeats Eggman and rescues all the Animals.
Sonic Pinball Party is a pinball video game with the objective being to earn as many points as possible. During both the Story and Arcade Modes of the game, the player starts each match with three pinballs, each one shot onto the playfield from the plunger. When the pinball rolls into the hole on the bottom of the table, the player loses a ball and must try again with another. Losing all three pinballs ends the pinball match. Much like in Sonic the Hedgehog Spinball, the player can control each pinball on the table using the two Flippers set on the lower part of the table or the lone Flipper placed in the upper right side of the table. The player can also shake the pinball table in three directions. With these methods, the player can make the pinball sling and hit one of pinball tables' targets in order to rack up points.
Story Mode features five different matches, while the basic goal of Arcade Mode is simply to rack up points until the player has run out of balls. Depending on how well the player performs in the Arcade mode, his/her best scores can be listed in the Rankings. Rings/Blue Chips collected in either Story or Arcade Mode can be used to purchase Chao Eggs and similar objects in the Tiny Chao Garden or as currency to stake in some of the minigames.
|left||Tilt left Flippers|
|Tilt right Flippers|
Story Mode matches
In the Story Mode of Sonic Pinball Party, Sonic has to face five different opponents, each with different point requirements to clear their match. Running out of time or losing all balls before reaching the point requirement returns the player to the title screen. The player's progress in the Story Mode will be saved after winning a match. Following matches and tips for clearing them are:
|1st Match||Knuckles challenges Sonic to collect 10,000,000 points on the Sonic table, starting at Neo Green Hill Zone. Completing the first match unlocks the Samba de Amigo table.|
|2st Match||The challenge ordered by the brainwashed Tails involves collecting 15,000,000 points in 5 minutes on the Sonic table, starting at Casino Paradise Zone. Completing the second match unlocks the Slots minigame in Casinopolis mode.|
|Semifinal Match||The challenge ordered by the brainwashed Amy involves defeating Gillwing on the NiGHTS table. Completing the third match unlocks the Bingo minigame in Casinopolis mode.|
|Final Match||Metal Sonic challenges Sonic to clear first seven stages of the Sonic table.|
|Extra Match||Suddenly, Dr. Eggman enters the event and challenges Sonic to collect 30,000,000 points in five minutes on the Sonic table. Eggman begins the match with a 200,000 point head start, where the player has to collect at least 30,000,000 points within the time limit. Clearing the match makes the credits roll.|
Sonic Pinball Party contains three different pinball tables, each with their own set of rules, targets and settings. However, only Sonic and NiGHTS are available at the outset. The Sonic and NiGHTS tables have number of stages that the player can progress through by activating and completing different modes. All stages have the same pinball table layout with only aesthetic differences. The goal in Samba de Amigo table is to finish each song with an A rank.
The player has to fulfill certain tasks on the pinball table in order to activate different modes, including knocking down Bumpers multiple times, Drop Targets, getting through loop lanes multiple times or flinging the ball into one of the active holes.
|Sonic||NiGHTS||Samba de Amigo|
Gimmicks and obstacles
Samba de Amigo
Party Mode is the multiplayer component of Sonic Pinball Party which can include up to four players in total. The game requires each player to have own Game Boy Advance handheld console along with copy of Sonic Pinball Party. Party Mode consists of three different versus mini-games.
Hot Potato (爆弾 Bakudan?) is a one of two versus minigames in Party Mode. Players have to use Flippers to fling rolling bombs off their table and onto opponents'. Both player's pinball tables have three holes at the top of them, each acting as a gateway corresponds to the other player's table.
The players' objective is to fling bombs off their table and onto your opponents' tables. Players must not let any balls fall through their flipper basin: drop more than three and the player get eliminated from the match. However, retired players can still shoot harmless black balls to distract the surviving players. The last remaining player wins the match.
Hockey is the second versus minigame in Party Mode. Players are connected to a single playfield, but each can only see his own flipper basin. A bunch of gold and silver balls ricochet around the field. These balls must not breach the player's defense. Each player begins with 100 points, but they will lose point for each ball that slips by the players' barricade. Silver balls take away one point while gold balls take away three points. The game ends when the timer hits zero or when any one player loses all of his points. The winner is whoever has the most points remaining.
Ladder Climb (びる の ぼり Biru no Bori?) is a co-op minigame in the Party Mode. The goal is to sling a single pinball up a vertical passageway by using Flippers on either wall. Each Flipper comes in different color and each color corresponds to a different player.
If the ball happens to fall straight down the middle, each player has to keep pressing left on or to magnetically attract the pinball. The game ends when the time runs out, and the player's collective score is tallied based on the ball's height.
Casinopolis is an separate mode in Sonic Pinball Party that contains three different minigames. Cream the Rabbit and Cheese act as guides in Casinopolis mode. Here, the player uses Rings, which are collected in the game's Arcade or Story Mode, as gambling stakes to play one of the minigames. In each minigame, the player loses Rings when the pinball drops down to the Flipper drain.
When the player starts the game for the first time, only the Roulette minigame is available. Slots and Bingo can be unlocked by playing through Story Mode (see this section). The player can exit the minigames by pressing START button.
- Roulette: The player slings a pinball into one of the two targets in the top corners on the board. Each time the player get one in, a random number lights up on the roulette wheel. If the player gets the same number more than once, the stakes on that number increases. After two minutes, the table freezes and the roulette starts spinning. If the roulette lands on any of the lit numbers, the player will receive Rings.
- Slots: The player has to bounce a pinball into the two targets in the top corners on the board to increase the chances of scoring a match on the Chu-Chu Rocket!-themed slot machine on the middle of the board.
- Bingo: The player has to sling a pinball into the two targets in the top corners on the board to light up random squares on the bingo grid. If the players gets a horizontal, vertical, or diagonal road, they will score Rings.
In Lesson Mode, Omochao teaches the player all the basics about the gameplay in Sonic Pinball Party. Instructions are split into ten parts for both the Sonic, NiGHTS and Samba de Amigo pinball tables. Pressing exits the Lesson Mode.
- Button Config: Change the functions of controls for different actions.
- Language: Change the language of the messages to Japanese, English, German, French, Spanish, or Italian. The language setting is the first option that appears when the player starts off the game for the first time.
- Sound Test: Listen to the various music tracks and sound effects used in the game.
- Chao Navi: Turns the on-screen hints during gameplay on or off.
Tiny Chao Garden
Tiny Chao Garden is a simulation minigame where players can raise Chao. While similar to the Chao Garden, this mode comes with several limitations: Chao do not age, can only interact with a finite number of items, and there can never be more than one Chao. Players can link the Tiny Chao Garden to the Chao Gardens in Sonic Adventure DX: Director's Cut and Sonic Adventure 2: Battle to transfer Chao or items from the Tiny Chao Garden and to participate in races.
Tiny Chao Garden in Sonic Pinball Party is unlocked by default. Rings amassed in the game's Story, Arcade and Casinopolis modes can be used to purchase items from the Tiny Chao Garden or in the minigame called Chao Ball, where the basic goal is to remove as many red and green balls on top of the screen as possible, while releasing any Rings above them.
Sonic Pinball Party was first released on 15 June 2003 in United States, where it was sold exclusively in the Target stores in North America. Because of the marketing, the game went largely unnoticed during its release. Also, because certain countries such as Canada and Mexico did not have separate Target stores, Sega did not make alternate arrangements to release the game to other stores in those countries. The game remained unpublished in Canada and Mexico until the re-release of Sonic Advance & Sonic Pinball Party Combo Pack in 2005, making the game available in other retail stores.
|Electronic Gaming Monthly||7.5/10|
|Game Informer||6/10 |
Sonic Pinball Party received generally positive reviews from critics and journalists alike with Metacritic giving it a score of 77% based on 15 reviews, and GameRankings giving it a score of 79.38% based on 16 reviews. GamePro praised the graphics and the gameplay, stating it to have "enough extras to keep any Sega fan enthralled." Frank Provo of GameSpot praised the game's overall gameplay and the artistic quality of pinball tables, while also saying that the multiplayer mini-games were "welcome additions to the overall conglomeration that composes Sonic Pinball Party, even if they don't really fit the premise of standard pinball."
Craig Harris of IGN praised the game for the "virtual" aspect of the pinball gameplay and offering a huge amount of content, but criticized its lightweight physics which made it difficult to pull off skilled, bulls-eye shots, and the Casino mini-games for not being balanced very well. His overall statement was that Sonic Pinball Party was "a great game, but not quite a must-have." Christian Nutt of GameSpy was not completely satisfied with the game, stating that it was "serviceable enough pinball romp that's too focused on presenting a pseudo-realistic game without the technical clout to back it up."
|Game Boy Advance||Released in a compilation with Sonic Advance as part of the 2 Games in 1 series in Europe and Combo pack in the United States.|
|Game Boy Advance||Released in a compilation with Sonic Battle as part of the 2 Games in 1 series in Europe and Double pack in Japan.|
|Game Boy Advance||Released in a compilation with Columns Crown as part of the 2 Games in 1 series in Europe.|
- Sonic Pinball Party is the only Sonic-themed title that the developer studio Jupiter has worked on. Several years prior the game, the studio worked on a similar pinball-themed game, Pokémon Pinball, for the Game Boy Color, which led to the sequel Pokémon Pinball: Ruby & Sapphire for the Game Boy Advance several months after the release of Sonic Pinball Party.
- This is the second Sonic game to feature a NiGHTS into Dreams-themed pinball table, the first being in Sonic Adventure.
- The space shuttle seen in the left corner of X-Zone-themed Sonic pinball table seem to be a recycled version of one of the earlier designs of the Egg Carrier from the development of Sonic Adventure.
- For unknown reasons, at the end of Story Mode, Sonic can be seen wearing his 2G Hi-Speed Shoes on an sprite which is directly based on one of the official artworks from Sonic Adventure 2: Battle.
- This is the first game to have Metal Sonic speak in his normal form.
- It is also Metal Sonic's only appearance on a Game Boy Advance game.
- Sonic Pinball Party. GameRankings. Retrieved on 25 June 2016.
- Sonic Pinball Party. Metacritic. Retrieved on 25 June 2016.
- Sonic Pinball Party. Game Informer. Archived from the original on 13 August 2004. Retrieved on 3 July 2016.
- Review: Sonic Pinball Party. GamePro. Archived from the original on 1 October 2007. Retrieved on 26 June 2016.
- Provo, Frank (25 June 2003). Sonic Pinball Party Review. GameSpot. Retrieved on 26 June 2016.
- Nutt, Christian . Sonic Pinball Party (GBA). GameSpy. Archived from the original on 7 January 2006. Retrieved on 26 June 2016.
- Harris, Craig (28 May 2003). Sonic Pinball Party Review. IGN. Retrieved on 25 June 2016.
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