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Flippers (フリッパー,Furippā?), also known as Pinball Flippers, are reoccurring pinball gimmicks in the Sonic the Hedgehog series. They are neon colored levers, which are usually hovering in the mid-air or are set on pinball tables along with many other pinball-related objects and gimmicks. Flippers are first introduced in 8-bit version of Sonic the Hedgehog and since they have been featured in Casino-themedZones or Bonus Stages in each game where they are seen.
Flippers act similarly to real-life pinball flippers, but instead of pinball balls, the player uses them to reach higher sections in pinball sections or the regular Zone with his/hers playable character. When the playable character lands on a flipper, he/she instantly curls into a rolling ball. The player then has to press 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 player into different heights and directions depending how low or far the playable character is located on the flipper. They are usually pointing in the left or right direction, though there some few times were they are seen functioning differently.
Sonic the Hedgehog (8-bit)
The flippers first appeared as obscure gimmicks in 8-bit version of Sonic the Hedgehog, where they are only seen in the fourth and eighth Special Stage. In this game, flippers are small and completely white-colored obstacles, which are set on right side of a gap. When the player lands on a flipper, Sonic curls into a rolling ball, so he can be launched to higher parts of the gap. Here, the player has to press or to move the flippers.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2
Flippers made another appearance in Sonic the Hedgehog 2, where they are one of 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. These regular flippers, which are colored neon green and white, are pointing in the left or right direction. Normally, the playable characters in the game turns 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, are pointing down and usually placed in the middle on the floor or a bottom pit. When the playable character touches this flipper, it automatically launches him backwards in the direction where the player came from.
In the pinball-themed game Sonic the Hedgehog Spinball, 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 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 Bonus Stages of the game, which function like those in the regular stages.
In The Machine, there are flippers that are part of moving elevators, which start moving once Sonic lands on them. Here, the player has to keep holding 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 has to be activated by pulling a ceiling switch, in order to make them appear and being 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 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 curl into a rolling ball, and the player has to press , or to move the flippers.
In Sonic Labyrinth, white colored flippers are recurring obstacles seen at several Zones of the game. They are usually set on sides of areas, which after touching ones, will launch Sonic automatically 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 features as well the same two types of flippers (regular and downward pointing types) in the Zone. However, both type of flippers are here colored in the same neon green and white color scheme.
Flippers made another appearance in Sonic Advance, where they come in two types in Casino Paradise Zone. Both types of flippers are colored yellow and red. The first type are regular flippers, which are set on walls and 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 on lowest part of every pinball table in-between the flipper basin. The flippers presented in this game bear the same physical appearance 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. In control flippers, the player has to press to move the right flipper and to move the left flipppers.
Flippers made another appearance in Sonic Heroes, where they 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 (/), Right Trigger or Left Trigger (Xbox)/R2 or L2 (PS2)/L or R (Gamecube).
In Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I, flippers are featured as regular gimmicks in Casino Street Zone. In his game, they are neon colored. Like in several previous games, two different types of flippers are featured in this Zone, where the regular ones are colored white and neon green. When Sonic lands on the regular flippers, he curls into a rollong ball, and player can make the 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 through slopes and along walls.
In the console/PC version of Sonic Generations, flippers are featured as the main gimmicks for Casino Night, though it is only available through downloadable content. In this game, two white and neon green colored flippers are placed at the bottom section of the pinball table between the flipper basin. Here, pressing the L1/LB/Q button will move the left flipper and pressing the R1/RB1/E button will move the right flipper. On the left side of the pinball table there is also a third flipper, which functions and is controlled like the left flipper on the bottom. Tilting on the pinball table disables the flippers and makes the player unable to use them, until the player shakes the pinball table once.
In Nintendo 3DS version of Sonic Generations, flippers are featured in Casino Night, where they function exactly like they did in Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and come in two different types. To make the regular flippers move when Sonic lands on them, the player has to press the A button, while the neon red ones launches the player backwards normally.
Sonic Lost World
In Sonic Lost World, four neon green colored flippers are featured on the 2D 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 the Nintendo 3DS version of the game, flippers are featured in Sky Road Zone 1, where the player has to press to make them move.
Flippers in Sonic 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.