The Bumper (ボビン,Bobin?), also called Bumper Ball (バンパーボール,Banpā bōru?), is a pinball obstacle that frequently appears in the Sonic the Hedgehog series. They function similarly to real-life pinball bumpers. Bumpers can be a nuisance, as the player can get stuck bouncing between them; however, they can also be used to the player's advantage by propelling them further distances.
In the Sonic the Hedgehog games, Bumpers are basically featured in casino-themedZones, Bonus Stages or even in Special Stages. When a playable character touches one, they will ricochet off it in the backwards direction. Bumpers usually flash after getting hit, and bouncing off them is usually worth a certain amount of points. In some games, a Bumper will stop awarding points if the player hits it too many times however. Because of this, a Bumper can typically only grant a limited number of points.
The appearance of the Bumper has changed many times throughout the series, but it is usually depicted as round and red with a blue inner area and a bright-colored five-pointed star in the center. This circular symbol is used in other objects (seen below). The shape of Bumpers has also been changed few times in the series: In the first Sonic games for the Sega Genesis, Master System and Game Gear, it has been depicted as a floating round object. After Sonic 3D Blast, Sonic Adventure and few later games, bumpers have appeared as flat, real-life pinball bumpers. However, it has occasionally returned to its floating round object since Sonic Heroes. Even to this day, the object's shape varies.
Bumpers have a unique sound effect, which has been used in many games throughout the series where the Bumper has appeared. According to Naoto Ohshima, when Spring Yard Zone in the original Sonic the Hedgehog was finished being developed, everyone in Sonic Team started calling the bumpers "bobbins" due its sound, which it makes when the player bounces on them.
Sonic the Hedgehog (1991)
Bumpers first appeared at Spring Yard Zone in the 16-bit version of Sonic the Hedgehog. These orb-shaped objects are blue circles semi-covered by a yellow five-point star, with a thin red outer ring. When Sonic hits this gimmick, the Bumper expands slightly. In gameplay, the player earns 10 points whenever they bounce on them. In the Spring Yard Zone, these objects usually appear in groups in the more open areas, where Sonic is free to bounce around pinball-style. Bumpers also appear as common obstacles in the Special Stages.
Bumpers also appear in the Special Stages in the 8-bit version of Sonic the Hedgehog. In gameplay, they serve to help or hinder the player in finding the Special Stages' exit or Monitors. In this game, Bumpers have the same appearance as their 16-bit counterpart, although these objects are slightly larger than Sonic himself.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (16-bit)
In Sonic the Hedgehog 2, the Bumpers are featured in Casino Night Zone. In this game, the classic Bumpers look similar to how they appeared in the original Sonic the Hedgehog, having a red outline with a blue center. However, the five-pointed star is now colored white. Also, between the red outline and blue centering there is an extra line, which flashes green and yellow.
By bouncing once on the Bumper, the player is rewarded with 10 points. However, each Bumper stops giving points after bouncing on it ten times. In several sections of Casino Night Zone, the player can also use the Bumpers as platforms to reach other side of gaps. There are also many other types of bumpers in the Zone:
Hexagonal Bumper: This type of bumper has a blue outer ring, yet its insides circle through many other colors. It is also capable of side-to-side movement; however, it does not award the player with points when hit.
Star Bumper: This type of bumper is a blue circle with thin yellow and slightly thicker red outer rings. This Bumper is similar to the one from the original Sonic the Hedgehog; however, the star on the Bumper is white. This Bumper grants 10 points for each received hit.
Triangle Bumper: This type of bumper is triangular, and has two forms. The first is an isosceles right-angled triangle located in the corners of the Zone; the second has a longer base and a shorter height, found on the floors and walls in the Zone. These Bumps come in different color, too; the first is red and green, with a small white "crown" symbol in its center. There are also two "screws" at the end of the green band's hypotenuse. The second, however, is a blue triangle with an orange and a red outer band. Like the other one, there are two "screws" at the ends of the longest side of the orange band. However, neither of these bumpers award the player with points when hit.
Drop Targets: This type of bumper, which resemble a block, stays in place until it is destroyed after receiving three hits. Initially, it is colored lime green; after it is hit once, it turns yellow, and after getting hit twice, it becomes red. Upon receiving its third hit, this Bumper will outright disappear. This Bumper grants 10 points for each received hit, adding up to a total of 30 points for each "Drop Target" Bumper eliminated.
Sonic the Hedgehog CD
In Sonic the Hedgehog CD, Bumpers are featured in Collision Chaos, the Special Stages, and above the last bottomless pit of Metallic Madness Zone 3. In the game's Rounds, Bumpers are more detailed-looking, their outer rim having cubic ornaments in red and white colors that moves around. The center of these Bumpers on the other hand is colored blue and has a yellow five-pointed star in the middle. In Special Stages, normal Bumpers are shown to be more flatter. They also look similar to how they appeared in the original Sonic the Hedgehog.
Like in the first game, the Bumpers in the Rounds are floating in groups, although some of them move back and forth in the air in certain directions. Each of these Bumpers grant 100 points after bouncing on them once. After the fifth bounce, the individual Bumper stops giving points, meaning each Bumper can grant up to 500 points. There are also smaller Bumpers that do not grant points, but keep the player in the air while having better control than normal ones. Collision Chaos also features large clusters of different bumpers that break after bouncing on them once while awarding 100 points.
In Sonic the Hedgehog 3, standard Bumpers are featured at Carnival Night Zone. These Bumpers are white orbs with a red four-pointed star in the middle, but they work the same as they did in previous Sonic games. Like in Sonic the Hedgehog 2, each Bumper gives 10 points when the player bounces on them, although they will cease with that after the player has bounced on them several times. In Carnival Night Zone, these Bumpers appear either alone or in groups, and are capable of movement in any direction. Some groups may rotate in a circle-like fashion, others form lines and spin parallel to a certain point. Also, in Competition Mode, four bumpers are featured in Balloon Park, which are colored red with a light yellow star symbol on it.
In the Special Stages, there are Sphere-based Bumpers. These Bumpers are similar to those in Carnival Night Zone, except they have a red five-pointed start on them. When the player touches these spheres, they will bounce them backwards. However, the player is able to run forward again by pressing up on .
Sonic & Knuckles has two different-looking Bumpers in two different Bonus Stages, although they work like the typical Bumper. The first variation exists in the Slot Machine Bonus Stage (twenty Rings is required to enter it). These Bumpers are smaller, with a big red rim, a yellow line between the rim and the center, and a white five-pointed star inside the blue center. The second variation can be found rarely in the Magnetic Orbs Bonus Stage (fifty Rings is required to enter it). The shape of these Bumpers is similar to the ones in Sonic the Hedgehog 2, except they possess a green outer rim, with a pink center, a red line between the rim and the center, and a white five-pointed star inside the pink center.
Sonic Drift 2
In Sonic Drift 2, Bumpers, now called Bobbins, appear all around the Casino Night race course. In this game, Bumpers look more like red and orange-colored Springs with a star on top of them. In gameplay, they serve to bounce the player off the track.
In Knuckles' Chaotix, the Bumper gimmick, now called the Bumper Ball (バンパーボール,Banpā bōru?), is mainly included in the Special Stages. In this game, the Bumpers have a blue outer rim with a red center and a yellow star inside their center.
Inside the Special Stages, Bumpers are either moving around or rotating in one direction. In gameplay, hitting a Bumper will send the playable character walking backwards for a moment until they start walking forward again. Some of the Bumpers also have iron balls connected to them by chains that sweeps the area around them, which the player has to avoid while running. Some Bumpers are also set in rows on the edges of the Special Stages' roads, which may help the player not fall off the Special Stages.
Bumpers also appear a few times in normal stages. The BadnikDribbler, for example, will be dribbling two Bumpers in each hand. Also, during the boss fight of Botanic Base, a single Bumper can be seen floating around the arena, which the player has to used to move around while dangling from the Ring Power in midair.
Sonic 3D Blast
In Sonic 3D Blast, the Bumpers' design is slightly different in every Zone. They appear as more flat, green glowing balls in Rusty Ruin Zone, as red and yellow colored balls in Spring Stadium Zone, and as light-blue glowing balls in Diamond Dust Zone. In the game, Bumpers do not give points when touching them, nor do they bounce Sonic very far unless the player is in full speed.
Spring Stadium Zone also has triangle Bumpers on the corners of slanted areas in the Zone.
In Sonic Blast, Bumpers are only featured in the Special Stages, where they will bounce the player backwards like in Sonic the Hedgehog 3& Knuckles or Knuckles' Chaotix. In this game, the Bumpers look like a sandwich, because of the game's pseudo 3D vision, with a yellow center and the upper and lower faces with a style based off on their design from previous Sonic games.
In Sonic R, the Bumpers appear in the section of Radical City's track that feature a large-scale pinball table. In this game, the Bumpers look more like actual pinball bumpers, being giant gray knobs with a yellow or red light on top each.
Bumpers also float in the air in the upper side sections of the pinball table. The player has to balance on these Bumpers to get to the other side, or the player will fall down to the pinball table below.
In Sonic Heroes, Bumpers appear either as floating green balls with a light green, five-pointed star symbol on the front and back faces, or as similar-looking knobs embedded in the ground. These gimmicks are featured in Casino Park and Bingo Highway, where they can be found both on the pinball tables and outside of them. Outside of pinball sections, the Speed Type characters can safely target and bounce on them using the Homing Attack. Bouncing on them grants the player no points, however.
In gameplay, the Bumpers in Casino Street Zone perform the same function they had in Casino Night Zone from Sonic the Hedgehog 2 by granting 10 points per bounce on them. The Bumpers in the Special Stages behave similarly, except they do not grant points when bouncing on them. Due to the different rotations on this game's physics, Bumpers do not bounce the player very far and it is easy to maintain Sonic's direction while bouncing.
In the Wii U/PC version of Sonic Lost World, the Bumpers have simple designs that are similar to those they had in Sonic Generations. In this game, Bumpers are set around the numerous pinball tables in the casino-themed areas of Frozen Factory Zone 3. In gameplay, hitting a Bumper awards 100 points. Bumpers also appear in the normal platforming sections of the Zone, but unlike in previous games, these Bumpers bear more of a resemblance to real-life Bumpers instead of the floating Bumpers the Sonic games are renowned for. The player is able to balance on these types of Bumpers by jumping on them.
In Desert Ruins Zone 4, there are also Antlions growling beneath the sand pools, which apparently carry a trail of Bumpers behind them, like a tail. This only occurs in the Wii U/PC version of the game.
In the Nintendo 3DS version of Sonic Lost World, Bumpers are only seen at the beginning of the casino-themed areas in Sky Road Zone 2. Here, they are set around the planetoid-arena. Unlike the Wii U/PC version's Bumpers, they are smaller and more round-shaped.
In Sonic Mania, and its expansion Sonic Mania Plus, Bumpers are featured in Studiopolis Zone. In this game, the classic Bumpers look similar to how they appeared in the original Sonic the Hedgehog, Like in Sonic the Hedgehog 2, each Bumper gives 10 points when the player bounces on them, although they will cease with that after the player has bounced on them several times. These Bumpers appear either alone or in groups, and are capable of movement in any direction. Some groups may rotate in a circle-like fashion, while others form lines and spin parallel to a certain point. Sometimes, there can also be Mic Drops handing from them.
In the Bonus Stages, there are Sphere-based Bumpers. These Bumpers are identical to the same kind of Sphere-based Bumpers introduced in Sonic the Hedgehog 2. When the player touches these spheres, they will bounce them backwards. However, the player is able to run forward again by pressing up on .
In Sonic Forces, the standard Bumpers only found in Casino Forest, where they normally appear in groups. In this game, they have a design very different from the usual one, resembling floating gray cylinders. Also, the front of these Bumpers are covered in a purple, yellow and blue ripple pattern that flicker when they are hit. They also lack the standard star symbol.
In gameplay, Bumpers grant 500 points when the playable characters hit them. There are also many other types of Bumpers in Casino Forest similar to those introduced in Sonic the Hedgehog 2, like triangular Bumpers, hexagonal Bumpers, and Drop Targets. Most of these Bumper gimmicks grant 500 points when the playable character hits them, except from the Drop Targets, which grant 5,000 points per hit.
Breakaway Bumpers, also known simply as spheres, are more fragile variants of the Bumpers. These obscure Bumpers either appear in large clusters or, in rare cases, by themselves, separated by pinball tables. When the player bounces on one of them, it breaks and disappear while giving points or nothing. This gimmick first appeared in Sonic the Hedgehog CD.
In other media
Sonic the Hedgehog Story Comic
Bumpers appear briefly in the Sonic the Hedgehog Story Comic Volume 2 story "Clash!! South Island". During his journey to save his Animal friends, Sonic entered the Sparkling Zone. Here, he accidentally slips on a slide and is thrown into the pinball arena. He then gets bounced back and forth between the many Bumpers until he lands on the ground, confused, only for a Crabmeat and Newtron to attack him.
In Sonic the Hedgehog comic series published by Archie Comics, Dr. Eggman created a floating Bumper as part of Hunter's weaponry. It was a basic red, yellow and blue bumper with the word "EGG" in the upper corner and an antenna on top of it. Hunter used this Bumper against Sonic the Hedgehog to bounce the hedgehog all over the place while he dealt with Knuckles. After Knuckles went Hyper Knuckles and defeated Hunter though, the Bumper was shut down.
More Bumpers appeared as a part of another large pinball table called "Pin-Ball Blizzard" at Mobiusland, a park that Dr. Robotnik had taken over. There, Sonic got bounced around by Bumpers and other gimmicks while Robotnik earned points from the pinball game he had trapped Sonic in. After Sonic started to earn points for himself though, Robotnik sent Scratch and Grounder to stop him. However the Badniks' assault failed and they got stuck to a pinball, which got bounced between the Bumpers and other pinball gimmicks.
Sonic the Hedgehog (TV series)
In the Sonic the Hedgehog television series, multiple Bumpers served as a part of a huge pinball table created by Dr. Robotnik inside a mechanized pyramid. When Sonic got himself trapped there by Ari, Robotnik forced him to be used as a pinball while trying to trap him in the Void.
While Sonic got bounced around, he began destroying the pinball table's gimmicks with a Power Ring, including the Bumpers. As Robotnik grew more desperate in his efforts, many Bumpers got sucked into the Void, along with Ari himself.
The symbol bares resemblance to the National Symbol that was used during World War II. It was stenciled on motor vehicles assigned to tactic units. The symbol was usually a white star, a star in a broken circle, or a star in a thick circle, sometimes yellow. The symbol also bares resemblance to the United States Air Force 1943 roundel, its fourth design being a star set in a circle.
In Sonic Heroes, Checkpoints were redesign as pillars of blue light with a gold star in a red circle inside them. The colors and design of these symbols also resemble the Bumper symbol. These checkpoints are favored for the Nintendo DS side-scrolling games.
The Red Star Ring have stars that take up most of the space set in their centers. They may be an allusion to the Bumper symbol.
The first planetoid section in Sky RoadZone 2 has a similar appearance, color scheme, and even features the large five-pointed star on it like the Bumper obstacle in Nintendo 3DS version of Sonic Lost World.
In Frozen Factory Zone 3 in the Wii U version of Sonic Lost World, interacting with a Bumper may cause a strobe effect to appear (giving the illusion of an epileptic seizure, lag, and color errors), leaving Sonic stuck until he gets a Time Over. It also happens on the second pinball table containing the Zone's third Red Star Ring. This glitch was patched as of version 3.0.0, and was passed on to the PC version.
↑This map was the first one to be drawn and finalized. Wanting to bounce around on the pinball-like bumpers in this stage really can't be helped! Because the star-patterned bumpers make a "Bo-bin!" sound when you bounce on them, in Sonic Team lexicon we call them bobins (laughs). - Naoto Ohshima, Sonic Team Commentary in Sonic Jam Strategy Guide.