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The Bumper[1] (ボビン[2] Bobin?), also called Bumper Ball (バンパーボール[3] Banpā bōru?), is a pinball obstacle that 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.

Description

In the Sonic the Hedgehog games, Bumpers are basically featured in casino-themed Zones, 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.[4]

Game appearances

Sonic the Hedgehog (1991)

Bobbin

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 Sonic 1 Game Gear

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)

Bumpers Sonic 2
Oh my head..

Bumpers as they appear in Sonic the Hedgehog 2.

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

Bumpers Sonic CD
Bouncing and flashing

Sonic bouncing on Bumpers in 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.

Sonic the Hedgehog Spinball

Some swearing bumpers

Bumpers in the 16-bit version of Sonic the Hedgehog Spinball.

In the original 16-bit version of Sonic the Hedgehog Spinball, there are blue and gray-colored Bumpers set in narrow pathways of Lava Powerhouse, which give different amount of points depending on how much the player bounces on them. Animal prisons in The Machine's center arena function similarly, but will free Animals and one blue Chaos Emerald inside of them.

In the 8-bit version of the game, the Bumpers appear more often in Toxic Pools and Lava Powerhouse. They are also featured in the Bonus Stages, where the Bumpers are larger than Sonic himself, much like in the 8-bit version of Sonic the Hedgehog.

Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles

Bumpers Sonic 3
If you thought that floating in the air doesn't make you ill

Few bumpers floating around in Sonic the Hedgehog 3.

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.

Bumper Special Stage

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 Controlpadds.

Bumpers Sonic & Knuckles

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,[5] 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.

Knuckles' Chaotix

Star-Bumper-Knuckles-Chaotix
Bumper Special Stage II

Bumpers as seen in the Special Stages of Knuckles' Chaotix.

In Knuckles' Chaotix, the Bumper gimmick, now called the Bumper Ball (バンパーボール[3] 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 spiked 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 Badnik Dribbler, 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

Sonic3DSpringStadium

Bumpers in Spring Stadium Zone in 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.

Sonic Blast

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.

Sonic R

BumperR

Bumpers in Sonic R.

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.

Sonic Adventure

CASSONIC6

Bumpers in Sonic Adventure.

In Sonic Adventure and Sonic Adventure DX: Director's Cut, Bumpers are featured on the 777 Slots Pinball and Card & Pinball tables in Casinopolis. In gameplay, the player earns one Ring per collision with the Bumpers. In this game, they are similar to how they looked in Sonic the Hedgehog 2, but with a design that is closer to real pinball bumpers.

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.

Sonic the Hedgehog Pocket Adventure

Bumpers Pocket Adventure

In Sonic the Hedgehog Pocket Adventure, the Bumpers appear as common objects in Cosmic Casino Zone. In this game, they retain both their functionalities and design from Casino Night Zone in Sonic the Hedgehog 2. When bouncing on a Bumper in this game, it flashes yellow for a second.

Sonic Advance

Bumpers Sonic Advance

In Sonic Advance, Bumpers are commonly featured in Casino Paradise Zone. Their design looks like one from the first Sonic the Hedgehog game and they act much like they did originally. In gameplay, the Bumpers normally grant 10 points whenever a playable character bounces on them.

Sonic Heroes

Casino Park

Floating Bumpers in Casino Park in Sonic Heroes.

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.

Sonic Pinball Party

In Sonic Pinball Party, Bumpers appear on almost every Sonic board. In the game, Bumpers give points and have exactly the same appearance as in Sonic Advance.

Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I

Casino Night Zone - Screenshot - (6)

Bumpers in Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I.

In Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I, the Bumpers reappear as common gimmicks in Casino Street Zone Act 1-3 and the Special Stages. In this game, the Bumpers have a red outer rim with a blue center, a yellow line just behind the center's edge, and a white five-pointed star in the center.

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.

Sonic Generations

In the Nintendo 3DS version of Sonic Generations, the Bumpers are featured in Casino Night. On this version of the game, they are designed and act much like they did in Sonic the Hedgehog 2, except the player earns one Ring rather than points whenever they bounce on one of them.

TTS3

Bumpers at the Through the Storm challenge in Sonic Generations.

In the console/PC version of the game, the Bumpers are similar to the Bumpers from the original Sonic the Hedgehog in terms of design. On this version of the game, they appear as common gimmicks on the DLC pinball mini-game of Casino Night (where the Bumpers take on a more realistic appearance) and in Crisis City's Vector: Through the Storm Challenge Act, where Classic Sonic is thrown against Bumpers by Vector. In the latter case, the bumpers are flat and float in groups.

Sonic Lost World

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.

Bobbin Enemy

An Antlion with a Bumper tail.

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.

Sonic Mania

Bumper Mania

In Sonic Mania, bumpers are featured in Studiopolis Zone.

SMBumper

In the Bonus Stages, these Sphere-based bumpers have design and fuctions identical to the Special Stages from Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles.

Sonic Forces

SonicForces ClassicSonic Casino 02 1506396628

Bumpers in Sonic Forces.

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.

Variants

Breakaway Bumper

Main article: Breakaway Bumper

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

Comics

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.

Archie Comics

Bobbin Archie

A floating Bumper in the Archie Comics.

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.[6]

Sonic X

In the Sonic X comic series published by Archie Comics, Bumpers were featured in the background of the Spring Yard Zone. There, Sonic, Knuckles and Amy tried to get through the Zone while getting bounced by Bumpers sometimes.[7][8]

Animation

Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog

In Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, different-colored bumpers were featured as a part of Dr. Ivo Robotnik's new lair, the Pinball Fortress. These Bumpers were usually set on a giant pinball section. When Sonic, Sergeant Doberman and Wes Weasely tried to make their way through the pinball table, they kept getting bouncing between the Bumpers. The Bumper's symbols could also be seen in the fortress' background.[9]

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.[10]

Sonic the Hedgehog (TV series)

Bobbin Satam

Sonic bouncing on multiple bumpers in Sonic the Hedgehog television 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.[11]

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.[11]

Symbol

The yellow or white five-pointed star on a blue circle surrounded by a red annulus is a common symbol in the Sonic series. In Sonic the Hedgehog 2, the symbol of a star in a red annulus is the main feature of the Star Posts, replacing the blank lamppost that were the Checkpoints in the original Sonic the Hedgehog. Also the Badnik Crawl has shields fashioned like Bumpers that protect them, functioning just like the real thing.

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.[12]

Ever since Springs were rendered in 3D games, they have been red, supporting the star-on-blue-circle Bumper design on them. Also, since Sonic Adventure 2, large red balloons with the bumper symbol on them have been used repeatedly.

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.

Examples

Gallery

Trivia

  • There have been exceptions in which Bumpers used a different sound effect instead of its unique one, such as Sonic the Hedgehog CD, Sonic the Hedgehog Spinball, Sonic Adventure and Nintendo 3DS version of Sonic Generations. Many Master System/Game Gear titles and Sonic Advance also have different sound effects, but this is due to the sound emulation of handheld consoles.
    • Apparently in Nintendo 3DS version of Sonic Generations, neon red colored, downwards pointing flippers misleadingly recycle the Bumper's sound effect, when the player gets bounced backwards once.
  • Few enemies or even bosses used Bumpers as shields, such Crawl and Robotnik's EGG-HVC-001. Oddly enough, many of them use the spring sound effect.
  • Two Bumpers are seen in the background during one of the mini-games in Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games. However they do not have any influence on the mini-game.
  • The first planetoid section in Sky Road Zone 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.

References

  1. Sonic the Hedgehog CD (Sega CD) United States instruction booklet, p. 16.
  2. "Gimmick" (in Japanese). ソニックアドバンス必勝パーフェクトガイド. Aspect. 8 February 2002. p. 27. ISBN 978-4757209145.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Knuckles' Chaotix (Sega 32X) Japanese instruction booklet, p. 37.
  4. 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.
  5. Sonic Drift 2 (Sega Game Gear) United States instruction manual pg. 19.
  6. Archie Sonic the Hedgehog #141 "Return to Angel Island Part Four: Ultimate Hero"
  7. Sonic X #10, "No Thanks For The Memories! Part One"
  8. Sonic X #11, "No Thanks For The Memories! Part Two"
  9. Forward, Bob (14 October 1993). "Attack on Pinball Fortress". Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog. Season 1. Episode 41. First-run syndication.
  10. Scott, Jeffrey (25 November 1993). "Robotnikland". Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog. Season 1. Episode 54.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Allee, Pat; Hurst, Ben (10 September 1994). "Game Guy". Sonic the Hedgehog. Season 2. Episode 15. ABC.
  12. Tim Keennon (December 4, 2006). US WWII Vehicle Markings. Sturmgeschütze vor!.
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