It was also released in 1995 on the Master System in Europe by Sega Europe (which is one of the last games released in Europe for the system and is quite hard to find), and was later released in Brazil by TecToy and in Portugal by Ecofilmes. This version is a port of the Game Gear version.
The Mega Drive/Genesis version was released on the Wii's Virtual Console on March 12, 2007 in North America and April 5, 2007 in Europe and also appears on the Sonic Mega Collection compilation for Nintendo GameCube, PlayStation 2, Xbox and PC. The Game Gear version also appears as an unlockable minigame in Sonic Adventure DX: Director's Cut for the GameCube and PC, as well as Sonic Gems Collection for the Nintendo Gamecube.
The game title is a pun on pinball and Sonic's famous spin move. It is the only Sonic game to feature characters from the Saturday morning cartoon Sonic the Hedgehog and Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, other than Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine. The game's musical score was composed by Howard Drossin.
Dr. Robotnik has assumed control of Mt. Mobius and turned it into a mechanical base. Utilizing energy produced by the magma flowing under the volcano, this new monstrosity (the Veg-O-Fortress) has the power to transform helpless animals into robot slaves at an astounding rate. Sonic the Hedgehog and Tails fly onto the scene to mount an aerial assault, but Sonic is knocked off the wings of Tails' airplane by a blast from the fortress. He falls into the water, but is rescued and taken to the subterranean levels of the Veg-O-Fortress. The fortress must be destroyed from the inside-out, and the only way to make that happen is to trigger an eruption in the volcano it's built on. Sonic knows this can be done by removing the Chaos Emeralds that keep the volcano stable. Robotnik, however, is also aware of the fragile relationship that exists between the Emeralds and the mountain, and he's set up an elaborate Pinball Defense System to make sure the precious jewels don't go anywhere.
Once all of the Chaos Emeralds in a level are collected (3 in the first two levels, 5 in the last two levels), Sonic gains access to the boss room and has to defeat a boss to advance onwards.
The main difference between this game and an actual pinball game is the ability to influence the "ball" (Sonic) directly by using the D-pad. The A, B and C buttons operate the flippers and can be assigned in the Options menu. Sometimes the player can control Sonic on foot, but for the majority of the time he is rolled into a ball controlled by the flippers. The traditional Sonic the Hedgehog platformer gameplay is kept to a very low minimum.
Completing the bonus stages are optional and serves only to increase the player's score. The three bonus rounds, in corresponding order to the normal zones, are:
Additionally, a hidden multi-ball bonus game, called The Clucker's Defense, can be played on any stage, but only if the player manages to collect every ring in the zone. Several star circles will appear in the stage, hidden at various points on the board. By leaping into them Sonic will be warped to this bonus round. The object is to destroy a crab Badnik who is protected by a pair of Cluckers.