Video Game / Sonic Pinball Party

Sonic Pinball Party is a video pinball game developed by Sonic Team and published by Sega. It was released in 2003 for the Game Boy Advance.

As the name indicates, Sonic Pinball Party is a collection of Pinball-related games focused on the characters of the Sonic the Hedgehog series, along with guest appearances by NiGHTS and Samba de Amigo. There are five distinct game modes in all:

  • The core of the game is "Story Mode", where Sonic must play through a pinball tournament to confront Dr. Eggman and rescue his friends.
  • "Arcade Mode" lets you play pinball on three separate tables, one for Sonic, NiGHTS, and Samba De Amigo.
  • "Party Mode" has three pinball-style games for one to four players, including Hot Potato and Hockey.
  • "Tiny Chao Garden" is a Raising Sim, where you use rings won in the other games to nurture a Chao.
  • "Casinopolis" has three casino-themed pinball games where players can win — or lose! — rings.

In addition to standard playfield obstacles, the pinball tables embraced their video game heritage with wandering enemies, collectable items, and bosses to battle. The game as a whole was highly rated by players, who praised its variety, action, and excellent music. If there is a complaint, it's that the ball physics are a bit too floaty and light, making it sometimes difficult to trap balls with the flippers.

In North American markets, the game was originally released as a Target store exclusive — which stymied gamers in Canada and Mexico, where Target did not operate. The game was later re-released as part of several compilation packs, increasing its availability.

Sonic Pinball Party demonstrates the following tropes:

  • Betting Mini-Game: All of the games in Casinopolis.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: At the start of Story Mode, Dr. Eggman has kidnapped and brainwashed Sonic's friends and turned them against him.
  • The Cameo: Tikal appears on the Angel Island Zone of the Sonic table.
  • Cut-and-Paste Environments: The main "Sonic" table has several Zones to be completed; the only difference between the Zones are the colors, music, and some of the playfield graphics.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: In Story mode, the player must defeat Sonic's various companions in pinball to rescue them from Eggman's hypnosis.
  • Evil Knockoff: Metal Sonic.
  • Excuse Plot: The Story Mode. Eggman has taken over Casinopolis and has brainwashed Sonic's friends into...competing against him in a game of pinball. Go stop him!
  • Fake Crossover: While NiGHTS and Samba are prominent guest stars in this game, they don't interact with the Sonic characters at all.
  • Inevitable Tournament: The plot of the Story Mode.
  • New Jack Swing: Mostly by virtue of porting over new jack-inspired tracks from Sonic the Hedgehog and Ni GHTS Into Dreams.
  • Nintendo Hard: The story mode. The number of points you have to get to complete each table is ludicrously high and the tables are no slouch to beat.
  • Party in My Pocket: In the Sonic table, shooting the Big Target Hole three times changes the current character between Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, and Amy Rose). Different characters enable different minigames on the table.
  • Pinball Spinoff: A three-fer for Sonic the Hedgehog, NiGHTS into Dreams..., and Samba de Amigo.
  • Plot Coupon: The NiGHTS table requires players to collect Ideyas before he can challenge the Nightmaren of that level.
  • Raising Sim: The Chao Garden.
  • Rhythm Game: Invoked twice in the Samba de Amigo pinball table:
    • During "Song Play", the player must shoot balls in specific directions in time with the music.
    • Then there's "Fever mode", a minigame where the player must press the flipper buttons to shake maracas in time with the onscreen action.
  • Spelling Bonus: Each of the three main tables has several Spelling Bonuses:
    • The Sonic table has S-O-N-I-C to light kickbacks, R-I-N-G to temporarily collect rings on the playfield, and E-G-G to activate Egg Mode and challenge Eggman.
    • On the NiGHTS table, F-L-Y activates Acrobat Mode, and D-R-M-Y raises the bonus multiplier.
    • The Samba de Amigo table has F-E-V-E-R to start Fever Mode, while Letter Collect Mode requires spelling the names of various Samba characters.
  • Unlockable Content: Most of the games' modes must be unlocked by playing through the main Story.