The production of new pinball machines might be a thing of the past, but there's still a big market for great pinball games in video games. Way back in 1993, Sega released Sonic Spinball for its Genesis system, a pretty great pinball/platformer that pretty successfully merged the Sonic franchise with pinball action. Now Sega has brought Sonic Spinball to the iPhone, and it's generally pretty great, if under-appreciated by its developer.
Spinball has received the standard Sega treatment for its iPhone port — the action takes up the full iPhone screen, with virtual buttons laid over it. Since the camera keeps Sonic in the center, you won't find the buttons getting in the way, but if you prefer the controls off to the side, you can opt for a smaller screen.
Other than that change, everything about Spinball is the same as it was almost two decades ago. The pinball boards are littered with objectives, and culminate in a boss fight, keeping the Sonic feel of the whole affair going strong. There's also a lot to do in each of the levels, so even though there are only four total, you'll actually get quite a bit of play out of Spinball.
The big drawback is the fact that it's exactly the same game it was in 1993, and that includes Spinball's painful lack of a save or continue system. Once you lose on a board, that's it — game over. The painful part is that every time you lose, you have to start over at the beginning. Sonic Spinball isn't the hardest game ever, but it's not exactly easy, either, and getting through a whole board is time-consuming. It would have been really nice if Sega had taken a second to give us the consideration of the ability to save, start on different levels, or continue after a death.
Despite this one big fault, Spinball is just as great a 16-bit pinball experience as it was year ago, and it's a great game to be ported to the iPhone. Sega hasn't done anything special here, but the original game is good enough to carry it, regardless.