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Proto:Sonic Spinball (Genesis)

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This page details one or more prototype versions of Sonic Spinball (Genesis).
Download.png Download Sonic Spinball (Genesis, Prototype)
File: Sonic Spinball (Prototype).bin (1.25 MB) (info)

A late prototype of Sonic Spinball from August 1993, originally found on a Chinese website.

The game is mostly complete and can be played all the way through, but there are several minor (and not so minor) differences here and there and an atrocious amount of bugs, especially in the latter half of the game and in the bonus stages.

General Notes

SonicSpinballProtoBossDestroyNoFade.png
  • There are no gameplay demos. The game returns to the SEGA Screen after the title screen ends.
  • A free movement mode can be activated by simply pausing the game and moving with the D-Pad. Objects are still processed while the game is paused. This mode is glitchy, however, as items may be stuck onscreen and the sound may get muted after exiting debug.
  • The pinball physics are *almost* finalized, but not completely. Sonic has slightly better air control in the final game.
  • Music can erroneously speed up or slow down randomly.
  • Collecting all the emeralds plays the the entirety of the first-revision title screen music rather than just a small segment.
  • There are some different or missing messages from the scrolling bar on the top of the screen.
  • The game doesn't pause or show any message after collecting all the rings in a level.
  • Once the portal to the bonus stage is touched, the game immediately jumps to the bonus stage.
  • Reaching the boss room always triggers the boss music, regardless of how many emeralds you have. The triggers that set the boss music are also set differently.
    • Most notably, this means that using glitches to skip collecting emeralds in the final game allows the normal level music to play in the boss room.
  • Entering a boss room does not show the boss' name or your objective in the status bar. In fact, those strings aren't even in the ROM yet.
  • The level doesn't fade to black after beating a boss. Controls aren't locked either, even though without Sonic there isn't much you can do. There's also no way to skip the bonus counters.

SEGA Screen

Prototype Final

No sparkle sound effect is played during the SEGA screen. The propeller sound is also different.

Title Screen

Prototype Initial US Release
SonicSpinballProtoTitleAnim.png SonicSpinballFinalOrigTitleAnim.png

The title screen has a number of differences:

  • The red lines fade in only after the animation stops.
  • It lacks a near the Sega copyright.
  • The yellows are less saturated.
  • A small 8x8 tile near the top of the Sonic's N is missing.
  • A nitpicky change, but the fade-out is one frame shorter in the prototype than the initial US release.


Other differences include:

  • The title screen is completely silent. However it does last the same amount of time as the initial US release of Sonic Spinball.
  • There is no Options screen. Selecting it simply returns you to the SEGA screen.

Changed Graphics

Sonic

Prototype Final
SonicSpinballProtoSonicGetEmerald.png SonicSpinballFinalSonicGetEmerald.png

Sonic's sprites when collecting an emerald were slightly touched up for the final game. The animation itself is 2 frames longer, for whatever it's worth.

Prototype Final
SonicSpinballProtoSonicHanging.png SonicSpinballFinalSonicHanging.png

The animation of Sonic hanging on a switch is not much of an animation at this point.

Animals

Prototype Final
SonicSpinballProtoAnimal1.png SonicSpinballFinalAnimal1.png
SonicSpinballProtoAnimal2.png SonicSpinballFinalAnimal2.png
SonicSpinballProtoAnimal3.png SonicSpinballFinalAnimal3.png
SonicSpinballProtoAnimal4.png SonicSpinballFinalAnimal4.png

The animals that pop out of badniks are completely different.

Bonus Stage

Prototype Final
SonicSpinballProtoBonusBird.png SonicSpinballFinalBonusBird.png
  • The most obvious difference is the sprite's palette. For whatever reason, this is the only sprite using a different palette line than usual (which is usually reserved for the background layer).
  • The shading was all around improved in the final sprite, which is most noticeable on the wings.
  • The rightmost wing was moved more to the left.
  • The leftmost wing is missing a black outline.
Prototype Final
SonicSpinballProtoBonusAnimals.png SonicSpinballFinalBonusAnimals.png

The palette used for the other trapped characters is also obviously wrong in the prototype. Black and brown were switched around in the final palette.

Cutscene background

Prototype Final
Sonic Spinbal MD protointrobg.png Sonic Spinball MD finalintrobg.png

The mountain background shared between cutscenes is much more red than what's in the final game. The cloud palette is also a light pink instead of purple.

Cutscenes

Intro

Prototype Final
  • This plays before the title screen instead of after.
  • The intro is arranged a bit differently; nothing is played at first except the propeller sound. When Sonic dives into the ocean, a short piece of music unique to this prototype plays.

Robotnik Getting Away

Prototype Final
  • This cutscene mistakingly leaves the window tilemap visible, displaying a broken line on the top of the screen.
  • The entire cutscene is silent.
  • There are no palette animations; this affects the water and the mountain.

Ending

An unfinished ending sequence is present in the game. To view it, activate PAR code FF3947:0007 in the last level to force the end of ball scoring to appear.

Prototype Final
  • This cutscene also mistakenly leaves the window tilemap visible, displaying the same broken mess on the top of the screen.
  • This cutscene is extremely glitchy. The game draws the scrolling stars incorrectly and the cutscene is plagued by heavy lag.
  • The only sound effect in this cutscene is the propeller sound.
  • Sonic's eyes are colored incorrectly during his winking animation.
  • The water isn't animated here as well.
  • The screen fades to black after the fortress collapses. Since there is no credits sequence, the game simply freezes afterwards.

Level Differences

Toxic Caves

General Differences

  • Falling into the water at the bottom of the stage means instant death, rather than a two-second wait after splashing.
  • A known trick in this level is that the lower area can be skipped by holding down the D-Pad after entering the first tunnel. This isn't the case in the prototype as it's impossible to pull this off. Even if it were possible, the left boundary of the level would be permanently set to the wrong X position (the boundary is normally there to prevent the player from heading left when the level starts, as it would have been possible to skip the lower board otherwise).
Prototype Final
SonicSpinballProtoTCRideMessage.png SonicSpinballFinalTCRideMessage.png

The camera doesn't pan when it displays the HOW ABOUT A RIDE? message.

Prototype (Forced main palette) Final (Disabled fade-out)
SonicSpinballProtoTCBossDestroy.png SonicSpinballFinalTCBossDestroy.png

The destruction effect after beating Scorpius removes 8x8 tiles rather than 16x16 chunks. As a result, the boss appears to be mostly intact.

Changed Graphics

Prototype Final
SonicSpinballProtoTCBucket.png SonicSpinballFinalTCBucket.png

The layer of sludge around the bucket was redrawn and animated.

Text Differences

  • The safety lids are referred to as "hatchways".
  • Hitting a Cluck badnik displays EXCELLENT, SONIC!. This was shortened to EXCELLENT!.
  • The minecart ride is also missing status messages.
  • No message is shown after destroying Scorpius' tail.

Bugs & Oddities

  • The palette cycle for the water surface is broken when starting the level. Triggering a palette change fixes this.
  • The collision on Scorpius' tail is somewhat glitchy: it's frustatingly easy to glitch through it after jumping inside.
  • The hitbox on Scorpius' body is screwed up as well, as it's possible to bounce off the boss without damaging it. Doing so plays the generic "bounce" sound effect.


SonicSpinballProtoTCBossPaletteGlitch.png

The palette can glitch up during the boss, causing green and/or red lines to improperly appear on the background.


SonicSpinballProtoTCBossJawGlitch.png

If Scorpius' head moves as it gets damaged, the jaw just kind of separates from the rest of the head.


SonicSpinballProtoTCBossDestroyWarp.png

It's possible to finish off Scorpius with the falling rocks. Because of this, with enough precision, it's possible to hit the last trigger and enter the sewer warp at the same time.

Lava Powerhouse

General Changes

  • The drain plugs are opened when the level starts.
  • In the final version, once the drain plugs in the boss room are closed, they will never open again, regardless of how many times you fall out of the room. This act of mercy isn't present in the prototype.
  • Doors require 5 hits to open. This was reduced to 3 hits in the final game. They also don't display any explosion whenever they are hit with enough speed.
  • In the section where Sonic needs to swing back and forth to escape from a lava bath, the D-Pad and the countdown are disabled until the message QUICKLY GET OFF is about to disappear. You can still jump though, which is a bad idea. This was changed to allow movement as soon as the falling animation stops.

Text Differences

  • Ferrons are called "Forebots".
  • Doors went through a number of other changes:
    • No BUSTING DOOR... message appears whenever the door is hit with enough speed.
    • When a door is about to be opened through a cannon, an extra message UNLOCKING DOOR is shown in rainbow colors.
    • Standing on a door in the boss room displays JUMP TO DROP DOWN. This was changed to a much more helpful JUMP INSIDE ROBOILER!.
  • There are Ferrons which can only be permanently removed after completing an action. Hitting them before completing the required action displays a descriptive message in the final game. This isn't the case in the prototype:
Prototype Final
NOT YET... BUST DOOR FIRST...
NOT YET... BUST CORK FIRST...

Bugs & Oddities

  • In this stage, closing the drain plugs should display the message CLOSING DRAIN PLUGS! in the status bar, whereas doing the same when they are already closed should display PLUGS ARE CLOSED instead. In the upper two boards however, the two status messages are inexplicably switched around. The boss room on the other hand displays no status messages. Note that the lower two boards do not have this problem.
  • Falling out of the boss room (to the chain trap) accidentaly triggers the CLUCKS ARE COMING message once the Steam Arena is scrolled into view.

The Machine

The level with no unique score.

General Changes

  • This level plays The Showdown theme.
  • Power chambers keep Sonic trapped longer.
  • None of the special bonuses (ie: Piston Lights) are implemented, and as such they are missing during the end of ball bonus. Score multipliers are equally absent.
  • Most of the actions in this level are incomplete. Highlighed in bold are the differences:
Action Status message Sound played Rewarded Points Notes
Interacting with a prison cell None Bounce 0 Unlocking and opening a prison cell have different SFX and award a different amount of points in the final game.
Opening all prison cells None None 0
Hitting a target None Target sound 0 Score tag shows up even though no points are awarded.
Plugging drain None None 0
Destroying a drain plug None Bounce 0 The animation plays correctly.
Entering a power chamber None Bounce 0
Entering a power chamber 3 times None None 0 The effect of toggling the movement of rotating cells/platforms is implemented.
Defeating badniks None None 0
Going through score ramps/pipeways None None 0 Lights marking how many times the path was travelled work as intended.
Travelling through the long vertical pipe drop None None N/A This is the pipe on the rightmost board with the message GOING DOOO O O W N... in the final game.
Getting caught in a surge None None N/A
Interacting with warps None Warp Sound 0 This includes being rejected from one
Triggering piston lights None Bounce 0
Hitting a tube in the boss room None None 0
Breaking a tube in the boss room None Explosion 0 In the final game an extra fanfare is also heard afterwards.
Getting inside the Veg-O-Machine None Bounce 0 In the final game an unique sound effect is also played at the same time.

Bugs & Oddities

  • Most of the badniks use an incorrect palette.


SonicSpinballProtoTMFlipperBug.png

The flippers are inexplicably bugged in this stage and this stage only. Button A actually activates both flippers even though only the left one is shown playing the animation. The same goes in reverse: button B plays the correct animation for the right flipper but the flipper collison doesn't change. For example, Sonic will pass right through the flipper whenever the ball is trapped with the B button, as seen in the screenshot at the right.

Holding either A or C before holding B will obviously prevent this bug from happening, though bizzarely it will continue to work even after one of the working buttons is released. Just don't release B, that is.


Prototype Final
SonicSpinballProtoTMRotation.png SonicSpinballFinalTMRotation.png

Entering a rotating cell does not award its Chaos Emerald as soon as you enter it. This can cause Sonic to exit the rotating cell through the closed off path.

The Showdown

Many, many subtle differences.

General Changes

  • Unlike the other levels, collecting an emerald doesn't show any animation. You just collect it instantly and your current momentum is preserved.
  • There are absolutely zero rings in the level.
  • There is no eruption timer, but hitting all the targets does award the eruption bonus.
  • The eruption bonus is always worth 100.000 points, regardless of how much time you take to hit all the targets. In the final game you are awarded 25.000 x (remaining seconds) points.
  • The ?X MULTIPLIER is always called 2X BONUS, regardless of how many times you get it. The text is also displayed in yellow rather than multiple colors.
  • No message shown upon lighting a multiplier bonus path.
  • Oh, and for all of that, the multiplier bonus does not actually work.


Prototype Final
SonicSpinballProtoSDPaletteChange.png SonicSpinballFinalSDPaletteChange.png

The palette of this level changes at different points. Generally speaking, in the final version the background color fades to black more quickly as you move upwards.


Prototype Final
SonicSpinballProtoSDChimneyBlock.png SonicSpinballFinalSDChimneyBlock.png

The badniks preventing you to go through the ramps display a different message.

Their behaviour is also different. In the prototype the badniks are completely invincible until all emeralds are collected. After collecting them they just disappear. In the final game, this was changed to the standard "disappear and then respawn" already seen in Lava Powerhouse; and the requirement to permanently destroy them was changed to "destroy all the blocks from the board they are in".

The way the badniks are erased in the prototype is also kind of glitchy. The jets of the disappeared badniks sometimes tend to stick to the screen for the remainder of the level.


Prototype Final
SonicSpinballProtoSDOuch.png SonicSpinballFinalSDOuch.png

Hitting a block only displays a status message, which is also colored differently.


Prototype Final
SonicSpinballProtoSDDestroyBlock.png SonicSpinballFinalSDDestroyBlock1.png SonicSpinballFinalSDDestroyBlock2.png

The message shown after destroying a block was lengthened.


Prototype Final
SonicSpinballProtoSDDemolitionText.png SonicSpinballFinalSDDemolitionText.png

Different messages are used when falling through bars.


Prototype Final
SonicSpinballProtoSDDemolitionScore.png SonicSpinballFinalSDDemolitionScore.png

Also note that while no 'SCORE' tag appears on contact, points are still awarded for destroying them. Oh, and hitting the bars doesn't play any sound effect.

  • Speaking of missing sound effects, hanging switches and shot rocks are also silent.

The Middle Board

Prototype Final
SonicSpinballProtoSDBadnik.png SonicSpinballFinalSDBadnik.png

An easy to hit badnik was added to the final version to explain that "Robotnik is getting away".


  • The prototype has an unique feature: lights which indicate how many rocks are awarded to a side. When the level starts, two rocks are awarded on both sides (meaning that two of the three lights are already lit). This isn't exactly intuitive since the lights are lined up towards the Chimney Ramp as in the final game, but it does ease off the difficulty of the middle board. In the final game, the lights mark the amount of times the player looped through a Chimney Ramp like all others. As well as this, it becomes impossible to stack multiple rocks since the targets do not reset until a rock is shot -and the two starting rocks were reduced down to zero. Yikes.
  • Speaking of Chimney Ramps, the are known as Chimney Chutes at this point of development.
  • Hitting a set targets will also display AWARDED [LEFT/RIGHT] ROCK, unless 3 rocks are already awarded on the side -in which case [LEFT/RIGHT] SIDE LOADED is displayed instead-. As the system was changed in the final, the only message displayed is [LEFT/RIGHT] ROCK WILL SHOOT
  • Falling to the side of the board without any safety rock doesn't play any omnious chord.

The Leftmost Board

  • The RUMBLING ROUTE on this board is called SOCK CHUTE. Note that in both versions of the game, the loop on the rightmost board is called RUMBLING LOOP.
  • It's also possible to fill the entire bar yellow; unlike the other loops you need to loop through it one more time to reset it. It will then display LIGHT SET RESET in the status bar; a message later removed since in final game the lights are automatically reset as soon as the entire bar is filled.
  • The ROBOTNIK BONUS is called ROBOSSNIC BONUS.

The Rightmost Board

  • No DASH AWAY! message when activating the platform.
  • While the collision on the right side of said platform is still glitchy, at least in the final version it's impossible to jump down the chute.


Prototype Final
SonicSpinballProtoSDDashBadnik.png SonicSpinballFinalSDDashBadnik.png

A badnik was removed from the platform shaft.

The Upper Areas

  • Hitting either the balloon bumpers or the Ship's flame plays the "bounce" sound and temporarily blanks the status bar. This broken behaviour was changed:
    • Bumpers still play the same "bounce" sound, but also display "BALLOON MANIA" on the status bar.
    • Jets neither play a sound nor blank the status bar.
  • Much like in the Middle Board, AWARDED [LEFT/RIGHT] ROCK is displayed rather than [LEFT/RIGHT] ROCK WILL SHOOT. Like the final version though, rocks cannot be stacked here.
  • The air surfing animation and the respective status message haven't been implemented yet.
  • The missiles Robotnik's Ship fires are both silent and do not have a status message when jumped on.

The Boss

SonicSpinballProtoFinalBossAnim.png
  • The normal level music continues playing in the boss area.
  • Hitting the trigger on the final boss describes exactly what has been added or removed.
  • When the boss is open to attack, this animation shown on the right also plays.
This was changed in the final version to randomized nondescript messages (with the exception of the infamous SMELL MY SOCKS) and the animation was removed, making the boss a frustrating trial and error experience if you don't know the trick to it.


Prototype Final
SonicSpinballProtoFinalBossTrigger.png SonicSpinballFinalFinalBossTrigger.png

Note that the correct amount of times to hit the trigger hasn't changed.

  • The final boss is invincible. Due to this, the game cannot be beaten.
    • If the game is forced to jump to the boss explosion sequence, nothing happens unlike in the other bosses. It seems the sequence hasn't been programmed yet.
    • If the game is forced to calculate the score and continue to the ending sequence, no Robotnik Bonuses counts towards the score summary, even though a string for it does exist.

Bugs & Oddities

  • When the level starts, the palette is set incorrectly since it tries to use the black background at lower points in the level. Triggering a palette change will fix this as usual.


SonicSpinballProtoSDFlipperBug1.png SonicSpinballProtoSDFlipperBug2.png

It's possible to interact with hidden flippers before they are activated.

Bonus Stages

General Differences

  • All of the bonus stages are implemented, but the only one normally available is the Robo Smile level.

To play the other ones use PAR code FF3949:00?? to change the bonus stage ID:

ID Bonus Stage
00 Robo Smile
01 Multi Ball
02 Trapped Alive
03 The March
  • The only way to access the bonus stage is to collect all the rings from a level and jump into a portal. The final version places the different bonus stages in-between levels, reserving the portal to the Multi-Ball bonus stage.
  • The score display hasn't been implemented.
  • It's impossible to pause during the bonus stage.
  • The flipper controls were mostly unchanged, but the right flipper here is also mapped to any of the directional keys.
  • Instead of being able to tilt the table by holding A, B and C with optionally a directional button, the table can only be tilted by holding B and C and a directional button.
  • With the exception of the Multi-Ball bonus stage, the palettes used are all different.
  • The lower portion of the triangle bumpers is incorrectly colored yellow.
  • What happens after winning a bonus stage is incomplete:
    • The ball doesn't disappear and the controls don't get locked. As a result, it's possible to trigger glitchy effects by interacting with the enemies.
    • No messages or bonus score increase are shown.
    • The bonus stage music continues to play. In the final version, the title screen music is played.
    • After a while, the game stops and the screen fades out.

Sound Effects

Most of the unique sound effects are missing.

  • Triangle bumpers play the generic "bounce" sound effect.
  • Whenever the ball hits either side of the board, an explosion sound effect is used.

Text Changes

  • The introduction to the bonus stages is much longer in the final version.

With the exception of BALL 1, the strings for these messages do exist in the Prototype ROM.

Prototype Final
N/A BONUS STAGE
N/A Bonus stage title
N/A Bonus stage objective
N/A BALL 1
READY? READY?
GO! GO!
  • Losing a ball displays LOSER. It was changed to YOU LOSE in the final version.

Bugs & Oddities

  • The game tries to display text in the screen, but it appears as a garbled mess since the font graphics aren't loaded at all and the game uses whatever was left in VRAM at the time. Even if the graphics were loaded, the text would still appear glitched since the game draws the font incorrectly.


Fade in Fade out
SonicSpinballProtoBrokenFadeIn.png SonicSpinballProtoBrokenFadeOut.png

Both the palette fade-in and fade-out are broken for all the bonus stages. This is just an example.


Before After
SonicSpinballProtoBonusExitPaletteBefore.png SonicSpinballProtoBonusExitPaletteAfter.png

Returning from a bonus stage doesn't preserve the level palette changes. For example, Toxic Caves stays blue even at higher points in the map. Triggering another palette change fixes this.

Robo Smile

The only stage normally available -and the first one by ID-.

Palette changes

Prototype Final
SonicSpinballProtoBonusRoboSmile.png SonicSpinballFinalBonusRoboSmile.png

The color of the board changed. Expect to see this other two times.

Graphical changes

SonicSpinballProtoBonusGem.png

What suspiciously look like a Chaos Emerald is shown floating over the remains of the boss after busting all four teeth.

Sound effects

  • The triggers play the normal trigger sound.
  • Hitting Robotnik plays the generic "bounce" sound.
  • Hitting Robotnik's teeth plays the normal bounce.
  • Getting the ball inside the head plays the pressure sound from Lava Powerhouse.
    • This sound effect erroneously plays indefinitely, making it possible to stack up the noise.
  • No GO SONIC message is displayed after hitting the three targets, even though the text for it exists.

Clucker's Defense (Multi Ball)

  • The two cluckers use the same generic "bounce" sound effect. Been there.
  • Since the bonus stages are a glitch, it's possible to hit the crab while it's exploding. This will cancel out the animation as if nothing happened. As this is a multi-ball stage, it's unfortunately very easy to trigger.

Trapped Alive

The most incomplete of the bunch.

Palette Changes

Prototype Final
SonicSpinballProtoBonusTrappedAlive.png SonicSpinballFinalBonusTrappedAlive.png

The color of the board changed drastically here. The sprites are also affected to various degrees, as in the prototype some are definitely not colored right.

Bugs & Oddities

SonicSpinballProtoBonusTrappedAliveBlank.png
  • You have infinite balls.
  • There is no win condition defined in this bonus stage.

What this means is that if you do manage to defeat Robotnik without freezing the game, you are stuck forever with a blank board.

SonicSpinballProtoBonusTrappedAliveMappingsGlitch.png

Hitting Robotnik causes a few things to happen:

  • The Eggmobile's sprite can glitch up. It does not always happen though.
  • Either a random sound effect or a broken version of the level music plays.
  • The game is very likely to freeze after the animation ends.

The March

Palette Changes

Prototype Final
SonicSpinballProtoBonusTheMarch.png SonicSpinballFinalBonusTheMarch.png

The usual change of palette. Notice how the prison's button is miscolored in the prototype.

Text Differences

  • Known as Scratch's March at this point.
  • The objective is an Engrishy sounding DESTROY MACHINE. This was changed to OPEN IT.
  • The status messages are very different here:
Prototype Final
WAY COOL MOVE NAILED!
HIP HOP BOUNCE SCORE MOVE
IN YOUR FACE FACED!!!
HEDGEHOG WILD HOG POWER
SLAMMIN' IT DOWN ALMOST
  • IN YOUR FACE is also used in both version when you lose the bonus stage.
  • SLAMMIN' IT DOWN appears to be unused, but the place it takes is the equivalent of ALMOST.
  • The early strings are still present in the final version.

Unused Text

General

ROBOSSNIC BONUS %d

A counter meant for to show up during the end of ball scoring summary. Not actually implemented though.

Bonus Stage

Text Intended condition
JACKPOT Winning Clucker's Defense.
GRAND SLAM Winning Trapped Alive.
SAD MOVE, HEDGEHOG
HA HA HA
TOO BAD HOG
SONIC VICTORY
GO SONIC Triggering the three targets in Robo Smile.
EXTRA BALL Well...
GETTING CLOSE
SLAMMIN' IT DOWN
FREEDOM! Winning The March/Scratch's March.
HEADACHE! Winning Robo Smile.
ROBOTNIK DETHRONED
BONUSES

Various unused messages meant for the bonus stages. Some would be used in the final game.


Bonus Game Objective
ROBO SMILE BUST TEETH
SCRATCH'S MARCH DESTROY MACHINE
TRAPPED ALIVE FREE THEM
CLUCKER'S DEFENSE NAIL THE CRAB

The name and objective of the bonus games aren't shown yet.

Unused Music

Within the prototype, there are two unused music tracks that don't exist within the final game

An unused variation of the intro music in this prototype. Although this version is longer than the used one, it's still not as long as the theme used in the final game.

A (really long) unused theme, thought to be intended for The Machine, mainly because it sounds similar to The Machine's theme in the final game, but also because The Machine re-uses The Showdown's music in this prototype

(Source: Sonic Retro)