Flippers (フリッパー,Furippā?), also known as Pinball Flippers, are pinball gimmicks in the Sonic the Hedgehog series. They are neon-colored levers, which are usually hovering in mid-air or set on pinball tables, along with many other pinball-related objects and gimmicks. Since their introduction, they have been featured in the Casino-themedZones or Bonus Stages in each of the games they have appeared in.
Flippers act similarly to real-life pinball flippers, but instead of pinball balls, the player uses their playable character, all for the purpose of helping the characters reach higher areas in the pinball sections that are found in regular Zones. When the playable character lands on a flipper, they (usually) instantly curl into a rolling ball. The player then typically has to press the jump button once to move the flipper upward and launch the playable character into the air.
In some pinball-themed spin-off titles, the player also can control two or more flippers with two different buttons, or one button that controls them all together. The player can launch the playable character into different heights and in different directions depending how low or far the playable character is sitting on the flipper. Flippers are usually pointing in the left or right direction, though there have been a few times were they are seen functioning differently.
Sonic the Hedgehog (8-bit)
The flippers first appeared as obscure gimmicks in the 8-bit version of Sonic the Hedgehog. In this game, they are only seen in the fourth and eighth Special Stage. The Flippers in this game are small and completely white-colored bars, which are set on right side of different gaps. When the player lands on a flipper, Sonic curls into a rolling ball, so he can be launched to higher parts of the gap. In gameplay, the player has to press or to move the flippers.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2
In Sonic the Hedgehog 2, the Flippers are one of the main gimmicks in Casino Night Zone. In this game, flippers are slightly longer and resemble more real-life pinball flippers. They are also more regularly featured in the Zone, as some of them are floating in mid-air, while others are placed in the wide pinball sections in the Zone.
There are two types of flippers in the Casino Night Zone. First, there are the regular flippers, which are colored neon green and white. These ones point in the left or right direction. Normally, the playable characters in the game turn into rolling balls when touching these flippers, and the flippers can be moved by pressing , or once. Another type of flipper presented in the game, which are colored white and neon red, point down. These ones are usually placed in the middle on the floor or in a pit with a bottom. When the playable character touches these flippers, they automatically launch him backwards in the direction where the player came from.
In both versions of Sonic the HedgehogSpinball, flippers are the main gimmicks in the game. The player controls them similarly to like real-life pinball flippers, where the left-side flippers move by pressing , the right-side flippers by pressing and both flippers move with , essential for the beginning player. Two flippers pointing the different directions are usually set on the bottom sections of each level on the sides of the hole that ends the round should Sonic fall into it. There are also sets of single flippers which move at the same time, depending on which of the two of directions they are pointing. Two white flippers are also seen in all the BonusStages of the game, which function like those in the regular stages.
In The Machine, there are flippers that are part of moving elevators. These flippers start moving once Sonic lands on them. In gameplay, the player has to hold or down to make the flippers keep Sonic on the moving elevator, until it reaches the top. After that, the player can release Sonic and launch him with the flippers. There are also several flippers in Showdown, which have to be activated by pulling a ceiling switch, in order to make them appear and be utilized by the player.
Sonic & Knuckles
In Sonic & Knuckles, neon flashing flippers are featured in the Glowing Sphere type Bonus Stages. These flippers are set on the left and right side of the walls, which the player can use to launch Sonic/Knuckles to higher places before the rising laser gate reaches them. When landing on the flippers, the playable character curls into a rolling ball, and the player has to press , or to move the flippers.
In Sonic Labyrinth, white-colored flippers appear as recurring obstacles in several Zones of the game. They are usually set on sides of the areas. Upon touching one of these flippers, it will automatically launch Sonic forward in curling ball mode at high speed.
In Sonic the Hedgehog Pocket Adventure, flippers are featured as the main gimmicks in Cosmic Casino Zone. The flippers here look and behave exactly like they did in Sonic the Hedgehog 2, and feature as well the same two types of flippers (regular and downward pointing types) in the Zone. However, both type of flippers possess the same neon green and white color scheme.
In Sonic Advance, the flippers appear only in Casino Paradise Zone. In this game, they come in two types. However, both types of these flippers are colored yellow and red. The first type are regular flippers, which are set on walls. The player can make them move by pressing . The second type of flippers are pointing downwards and will shoot the player backwards once the playable character touches them.
Sonic Pinball Party
In Sonic Pinball Party, flippers are the main gimmicks of the game. Here, two of them are always set in the lowest part of every pinball table in-between the flipper basin. The flippers presented in this game on the Sonic table bear the same physical design as those in Sonic the Hedgehog CD and has the same red and grey color scheme. In this game, instead of playable characters, the flippers are used by the player to launch regular pinball balls. To control the flippers, the player has to press to move the right flipper and to move the left flippper.
In Sonic Heroes, the flippers are featured on the pinball tables in Casino Park and BINGO Highway. These flippers are colored white and neon green and are usually set on the sides of the center and bottom parts of the pinball tables. There are also sections on the pinball tables, which feature single flippers with no corresponding flipper in the other direction. In this game, all flippers present will move at the same time when the player presses the jump button (//). Alternatively, the player can move each individual flipper by pressing either or / or / or .
Sonic Rivals 2
In Sonic Rivals 2, the flippers appear in Neon Palace Zone. In this game, they are colored white and neon green, and are set on the walls in some parts of the Zone. To move the flippers, the player must press .
Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I
In Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I, flippers are featured as regular gimmicks in Casino Street Zone. In this game, they are neon colored. Like in several previous games, two different types of flippers are featured in this Zone. First, there are the regular ones, which are colored white and neon green. When Sonic lands on the regular flippers, he curls into a rolling ball. The player can make the regular flippers move by pressing the jump button (////). The other type of flippers, which are colored white and orange, are pointing downwards and launches the player backwards, but can also be used to gain an extra boost of speed to run up slopes and along walls.
On the console/PC version of Sonic Generations, flippers are featured as the main gimmicks for the Casino Night DLC. In this game, two white and neon green-colored flippers are placed at the bottom section of the pinball table between the flipper basin. In gameplay, pressing //[Q] will move the left flipper and pressing //[E] will move the right flipper. On the left side of the pinball table there is also a third flipper, which is controlled like the left flipper on the bottom. Tilting the pinball table disables the flippers and makes the player unable to use them, until the player shakes the pinball table once.
On the Nintendo 3DS version of Sonic Generations, flippers are featured in Casino Night, where they function exactly like they did in Sonic the Hedgehog 2. They also come in two different types, with the regular ones being white and neon green like in the console/PC version, and the other ones being neon red. To make the regular flippers move when Sonic lands on them, the player has to press . The neon red ones on the other hand launch the player backwards automatically. In addition, the player can target the Flippers with the Homing Attack.
Sonic Lost World
In the Wii U/PC version of Sonic Lost World, four neon green colored flippers are featured in the 2.5D pinball sections in Frozen Factory Zone 3. Two of them are set on the center sides and the other two are placed on the bottom, between the flipper basin. The player has to utilize the flippers to help Sonic collect enough points in order to proceed further through the Zone. In gameplay, the player can move the left flipper with and the right flipper with .
In the Nintendo 3DS version of the game, the flippers are featured in Sky Road Zone 1. On this version, the flippers are white and neon-orange. In gameplay, the player has to press to make them move.
In Sonic Mania, and its expansion Sonic Mania Plus, flippers are featured in Mirage Saloon Zone. In this game, they resemble vulture heads: the flippers' bars resemble orange beaks and their joints are red with blue and yellow eye-like rings in their center. These flippers are set on walls, usually at the end of roads that connect to them. The player can make them move by pressing , or /, or /, or /[A], [Q] or [S].
In Sonic Forces, flippers appear exclusively in Casino Forest. In this game, they come in two types, much like in Sonic the Hedgehog 2. The first type are larger than the other type and are colored neon green and yellow. These ones are the most common and point in the left or right direction. In gameplay, Classic Sonic will curl into a ball when landing on these flippers. The second type of flippers are neon blue and red. These ones point downward and are usually placed in the middle on the floor or in a pit with a bottom. In gameplay, they will automatically shoot the player backwards once Classic Sonic touches them.
Flippers in Sonic the Hedgehog CD were mute until the 2011 re-release added sound effect when it launches Sonic to the air.
The neon red and white colored flippers in Nintendo 3DS version of Sonic Generations misleadingly recycle the Bumper sound effect when the player gets launched backwards, while the Bumpers themselves have a different sound in the game.