Sonic & Knuckles Pinball Mini-game

In Brief
*The Sonic & Knuckles pinball bonus stage uses the seven principles to create a fascinatingly unusual mini-game.

Description of mini-game

The player is in a vertical arena, which contains several magnetic balls. With careful aiming, the player can use the balls to catapult Sonic upwards. Pinball flippers are also present to assist with this task.

Orbs are dotted around the arena. When hit, the orbs transform into power ups that shoot upwards requiring the player to chase them before they disappear.

At the base of the arena is a laser beam that gradually moves upwards. The game ends when Sonic collides with the beam or reaches the exit at the top.

The seven mini-game principles in action


Using the magnetic balls to catapult Sonic is tricky and initially requires a fair amount of skill. It is likely that the player’s first few goes will be short, as much practise is needed to deduce the mechanics of the balls.
Although the challenge is high, the balls are deceptively simple looking.
classic_good.png Their simple appearance encourages the player to try again as they trick the player to believe that success will come with ‘one more go’.
classic_good.png The player will also want to avoid the personal humiliation of being stumped by a seemingly simple puzzle and so will play it multiple times to master it.
classic_good.png The vertical arrangement of the arena plays on the player’s curiosity as it suggests that an interesting secret is present at the top.


The lower end of the arena contains rings and power-ups. The upper area contains extra lives and orbs that are worth 100 rings.

Time limit

The laser acts as a time limit as it will eventually catch up with Sonic.
classic_bad.png If Sonic reaches the top of the stage, the game will end. This creates a disappointing climax, as the player is effectively punished for being skilled enough to reach the top.


The more valuable orbs are placed at an angle and so require precise aiming to be accessed. If the player makes a mistake, there is a good chance that s/he will fall and touch the laser.


The stage is an extension of the pinball mechanics found in the main game


A high degree of imagination exists.
classic_good.png The magnetic balls are fascinatingly unusual.
classic_good.png In many ways they are perhaps too imaginative and would alienate the player if it wasn’t for the pinball-like elements that add familiarity.
classic_good.png As the pinball elements give the player a vague idea of the how to play the game, the player will be highly motivated to master the balls.


To access this level, the player must collect at least 20 rings and find a star post.
classic_good.png This gives the player a strong motive to explore the stages for both star posts and rings.
classic_good.png The star posts usually occur in slow sections of the main level, which prevents the mini-game from interrupting the flow of speed.

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