A type of Power-Up
that rewards you for collecting a number of letters to spell a word. Typically the letters do not have to be obtained in order, but will automatically move to their correct places on the status bar.
This trope goes back to the "spot letter" targets found on many pinball
games. Spelling a sequence of letters (such as A-B-C-D-E) or key words (such as T-R-O-P-E) yielded various bonuses.
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- Black Knight 2000 has The King's R-A-N-S-O-M.
- A certain shot in The Simpsons Pinball Party spots a letter in S-I-M-P-S-O-N-S, and getting them all unlocks D'oh Frenzy.
- Elvira and the Party Monsters lights a three-million-point shot for spelling E-L-V-I-R-A. The lights carry over from player to player and game to game.
- Star Wars Episode I requires the player to spell J-A-R-J-A-R and G-U-N-G-A-N at various times, while spelling J-E-D-I not only advances to the next Jedi Level, but will also activate the Wizard Mode.
- In The Addams Family, spelling G-R-E-E-D opens the Bookcase to the Vault, and spelling T-H-I-N-G gives a bonus and gets Thing to come out of his box (If you get one or two stars you get more bonus points).
- Several in Zen Studios' The Avengers: T-R-I-C-K-A-R-R-O-W lights the kickback, S-H-I-E-L-D lights the SHIELD target, and completing A-S-S-E-M-B-L-E starts the Wizard Mode.
- Even more in Stern Pinball's The Avengers, as nearly every superhero gets in on the act: T-H-O-R, L-O-K-I, H-U-L-K, I-R-O-N-M-A-N, H-A-W-K-E-Y-E, B-L-A-C-K-W-I-D-O-W, and even C-O-S-M-I-C.
- The Captain America board from Zen Studios requires you to spell S-O-L-D-I-E-R-S-Y-M-B-O-L-S-A-V-I-O-U-R-F-R-I-E-N-D. Thank goodness you do it via the bumpers rather than any other kind of shot.
- Zen Studios' Fantastic Four goes nuts with what can be spelled: F-A-N-T-A-S-T-I-C (activates a ball saver), F-O-U-R (increases the end-of-ball bonus multiplier), I-N-V-I-S-I-B-L-E (allows a shot up the Human Torch ramp for a lot of points), T-O-R-C-H (the first step to Sign Multiball), T-H-I-N-G (activates Thing Multiball), F-O-R-C-E (enables the left kickback), F-I-E-L-D (enables the right kickback), and B-A-X-T-E-R (starts Skrull Invasion once the ball is shot into the Baxter Building). The upper half of the playfield is covered in inserts for these things to spell.
- Starting multiball in Creature from the Black Lagoon requires spelling F-I-L-M. This involves several subtasks, including spelling K-I-S-S (for an extra ball) and P-A-I-D (to increase the bonus multiplier).
- C-A-V-E in Caveman lights the extra ball.
- Baby Pac-Man requires spelling P-A-C-M-A-N to earn each power pellet. The outer loops also spell F-R-U-I-T-S and T-U-N-N-E-L, but the player is rewarded even for partial spelling.
- Super Mario Bros. has the player spell S-U-P-E-R to make Mario... well, super.
- Spirit Of 76 does this with numbers. Specifically, the 1-7-7-6 and 1-9-7-6 drop targets.
- TRON: Legacy: Spell Z-U-S-E to start a timed mode called "Fast Scoring", C-L-U starts the "Terminate Clu" mode, and T-R-O-N invokes various special features (Double Scoring, Super Pops, and Super Spinners respectively), they are among the many objectives needed to progress to activate Portal Multiball.
- After sinking seven balls and the eight ball in Eight Ball Deluxe, the player can spell D-E-L-U-X-E for a shot at the Super Bonus
- Eight Ball Champ: Spell C-H-A-M-P to increase the score of the left outer orbit. Spell E-I-G-H-T to light the letters in B-A-L-L, which gives extra points or an extra ball.
- This is the primary scoring mechanism in Back to the Future: M-C-F-L-Y increases the casino spinner value, D-O-C increases the bonus multiplier, D-M-C lights the multiball lock, and D-E-L-O-R-E-A-N starts the Million round.
- Star Wars (Data East) uses S-T-A-R-W-A-R-S, of course.
- Star Wars Trilogy has F-O-R-C-E and F-A-L-C-O-N.
- Pro Pinball: Timeshock! uses S-C-A-N for the time scanner, W-A-R-P to light Time Warp Frenzy, and M-A-G-N-E-T to turn on the MagnoSave.
- In Pro Pinball: Big Race USA, T-R-U-N-K lights the "Open the Trunk" saucer.
- Oddly enough, Bally's Star Trek pinball has only one — B-A-L-L-Y.
- Williams Electronics' Sorcerer has the player spell S-O-R-C-E-R-E-R to "cast spells" (and enable various bonuses).
- Tales Of The Arabian Nights has G-E-N-I-E and B-A-Z-A-A-R, while the "Ali Baba" Tale has S-E-S-A-M-E.
- Theatre of Magic: shoot the ramps to spell M-A-G-I-C to light the center loop to lock balls 1 and 2 for multiball, and T-H-E-A-T-R-E for a ten-second chance to collect the Theatre Bonus. Finally, The Grand Finale requires spelling M-A-G-I-C-T-H-E-A-T-R-E in 90 seconds.
- Superman has his name worth bonuses both separately and together: S-U-P-E-R lights the outlane Special, M-A-N lights the outlane Extra Ball, and S-U-P-E-R-M-A-N awards 30,000 points.
- Not surprisingly, The Atarians has you spell A-T-A-R-I (via five saucers at the top of the playfield) to double the bonus, while E-X-T-R-A-B-A-L-L lights the extra ball target.
- Plants vs. Zombies Pinball has S-U-N to start the Sun Frenzy, C-R-A-Z-Y gets Crazy Dave to drive his car onto the playfield, and B-R-A-I-N-Z starts the Brainz Main Missions.
- Spelling S-T-R-I-K-E-R in World Cup Soccer lights the Striker scoop, allowing a random award to be collected.
- Zen Studios' Spider-Man pinball lights the kickbacks and ball saver for spelling T-H-W-I-P, while S-P-I-D-E-Y awards an extra ball (with a convoluted case of Fun with Acronyms).
- Stern's Ali pin increases the value of the center saucer for spelling A-L-I, while A-L-I and G-R-E-A-T-E-S-T lights the Extra Ball and Specials.
- Judge Dredd has J-U-D-G-E, though the letters have to be collected in order.
- Spelling L-I-E in Fish Tales increases your bonus multiplier up to 7x.
- Barracora has B-A-RR-A-C-O-R-A,note which must be spelled in order. Failure causes all the targets to reset.
- Stern Pinball's Family Guy:
- The main playfield has F-A-R-T, which starts Fart Multiball, while spelling P-I-N-B-A-L-L enables Stewie's pinball machine.
- Stewie's miniature pinball table has the names of his family members — B-R-I-A-N, M-E-G, P-E-T-E-R, L-O-I-S, and C-H-R-I-S.
- Shrek used the same playfield and ruleset, but changed the bonuses accordingly: B-A-B-Y starts Baby Multiball, while the miniature pinball table has F-I-O-N-A, M-A-N (for Gingerbread Man), S-H-R-E-K, P-U-S-S, and C-H-A-R-M (for Prince Charming).
- Indiana Jones: The Pinball Adventure uses I-N-D-Y to increase the bonus multiplier and collect friends, while A-D-V-E-N-T-U-R-E enables the tilting Path of Adventure playfield.
- In The Lord of the Rings, O-R-C increases the bonus multiplier, while K-E-E-P lights a lock for Two Towers Multiball.
- A variation occurs in Data East's Batman pinball; the front of the Flugelheim Museum is a single large target, and opening it requires hitting it multiple times to spell B-A-T-M-A-N.
- Played straight in Stern Pinball's Batman, where B-A-T-M-A-N starts the various "Bat Mission" modes.
- In Doctor Who, W-H-O lets you earn extra balls, R-E-P-A-I-R enables Unlimited Millions, and E-S-C-A-P-E lights the TARDIS for Video Mode.
- In Jurassic Park, T-R-E-X starts T-Rex Triball, and C-H-A-O-S starts another mode.
- This is a lot more common in its sequel, The Lost World: Jurassic Park: S-I-T-E-B activates the "Site B" mode, T-R-E-X starts "Mobile Lab", and R-A-P-T-O-R starts Raptor Multiball.
- Gottlieb's Gladiators starts a two-ball multiball for spelling the M-U-L-T-I lights. Above the playfield, W-E-A-P-O-N lets the player choose a bonus and D-O-U-B-L-E provides double scores.
- Sega Pinball's unreleased Golden Cue required players to spell G-O-L-D-E-N and V-O-D-K-A as two of the conditions for winning (and ending) the game.
- The released game, Sharkey's Shootout, has P-O-O-L to relight the Mystery Ball, C-U-E to increase the bonus mulitiplier and start Bumper Pool, and P-A-Y-O-F-F to award the current prize value.
- In Bram Stoker's Dracula, spell D-R-A-C-U-L-A during Coffin Multiball to light the jackpot, and spelling V-I-D-E-O lights Video Mode.
- In Monopoly, getting the A-B-C lanes scores a bonus, and B-A-N-K starts Cash Grab.
- F-14 Tomcat uses T-O-M-C-A-T to light the ball locks and start multiball. There's also 1-2-3-4-5-6 to increase the Flyby Bonus multiplier.
- In The Shadow, spelling M-O-N-G-O-L starts Mongol Hurry Up, while K-H-A-N increases the bonus multiplier and lights the side saucer for Khan Multiball.
- Cirqus Voltaire has the player spell W-O-W to challenge a Ringmaster to a duel, S-P-I-N to complete the Spin Marvel, R-I-N-G to increase the bonus multiplier. and V-O-L-T activiates the Boom! Balloon. The first part of "Join the Cirqus" also requires spelling C-I-R-Q-U-S.
- In Space Shuttle, U-S-A increases the bonus multiplier up to 7X, and S-H-U-T-T-L-E rewards the current Liftoff value.
- Spelling V-A-U-L-T in Safe Cracker starts Token Multiball.
- In Black Rose, S-I-N-K-S-H-I-P lets you make the Broadside shot, and L-O-C-K lights the lock.
- Batman Forever uses B-A-T to increase the bonus multiplier, while the "Brain Drain" mode requires spelling C-A-V-E in order.
- No Fear: Dangerous Sports requires spelling N-O-F-E-A-R to start the Major Challenges.
- GoldenEye uses 0-0-7 to increase the bonus multiplier, while spelling G-O-L-D-E-N-E-Y-E is one of the requirements for the Wizard Mode.
- In Johnny Mnemonic, the left loop spots a letter in J-O-H-N-N-Y, and the right one does likewise for M-N-E-M-O-N-I-C. Getting all the letters starts a 20-second frenzy where every switch is worth 15 million points.
- Spelling B-L-A-S-T-O-F-F in Apollo 13 starts the infamous Blastoff Multiball, and D-O-C-K lights Mystery.
- Unsurprisingly, Paragon has P-A-R-A-G-O-N, which enables the Paragon Tower saucer for a 25,000-point reward.
- Spelling M-E-T-E-O-R in Meteor increases the bonus multiplier.
- Gottlieb's Street Fighter II pinball has T-O-R-P-E-D-O (for E. Honda's "Torpedo Head Butt" attack), which starts Torpedo Multiball.
- Flight 2000 requires the player spell B-L-A-S-T-O-F-F twice to lock the first two balls, then hit 5-4-3-2-1 (in order) to enable multiball.
- Black Hole has the B-L-A-C-K-H-O-L-E drop targets, which light the g-force accelerators to activate a Score Multiplier.
- A lot of them in Indiana Jones (Stern): M-A-P lights the bonus multiplier, and I-N-D-Y-J-O-N-E-S awards a bonus. An odd use of this trope is employed when spelling out "RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK", as the letters are sometimes awarded in groups.
- In The Who's Tommy, spelling T-O-M-M-Y enables Tommy Multiball, while during "Pinball Wizard," the player must spell W-I-Z-A-R-D.
- Spelling M-I-L-L-I-O-N-S and riding the ramp in The Simpsons (Data East) awards a million points
- Stern's Iron Maiden is centered around spelling I-R-O-N-M-A-I-D-E-N to enable the three-ball multiball.
- Bally's KISS makes this a key mechanic, as spelling K-I-S-S four times is needed for higher scores.
- SEGA's Mary Shelley's Frankenstein has F-R-A-N-K-E-N-S-T-E-I-N and G-E-N-E-V-A (Dr. Frankenstein attempted to get recognition for his accomplishments at the Geneva Convention).
- El Dorado: City of Gold has C-I-T-Y-O-F-G-O-L-D on the top drop target bank.
- Canada Dry (a rethemed version of El Dorado) uses D-R-I-N-K and C-A-N-A-D-A-[space]-D-R-Y for its drop target banks.
- In RoboCop, 2-0-9 advances the bonus multiplier, while R-O-B-O-C-O-P lights the extra ball.
- For Data East's Playboy 35th Anniversary pinball, P-L-A-Y-B-O-Y enables the Special, M-A-N-S-I-O-N awards the Mansion Million Countdown, P-I-N-B-A-L-L enables the Extra Ball, and H-M-H (Hugh Hefner's initials) increases the bonus multiplier.
- Striker Xtreme has C-U-P to increase the bonus multiplier, and S-H-O-O-T-O-U-T to collect the Hurry Up bonus and take a free goal shot.
- The Americanized remake, NFL, uses N-F-L and F-I-R-S-T-D-O-W-N instead. Yes, there's an extra letter required there.
- The ZX Spectrum game Pinball Wizard had S-A-G-I-T-T-A-R-I-A-N, a reference to its programmers.
- Evel Knievel has S-U-P-E-R for the double Specials, and C-Y-C-L-E to raise the value of the center bumper.
- Big Bang Bar uses B-A-R to increase the bonus multiplier, while B-R-A-W-L enables Multibrawl Multiball.
- In Monster Bash, D-I-G increases the bonus multiplier, P-H-A-N-T-O-M enables the Phantom Flip, and D-R-A-C-U-L-A starts "Drac Attack" mode.
- In The Champion Pub, Fisticuffs Multiball is activated by spelling F-I-S-T-I-C-U-F-F-S.
- For Guns N' Roses, J-A-M increases the bonus multipliers, S-N-A-K-E enables the left-hand Rose plunger, D-U-F-F collects the Duff Jackpot, R-O-C-K starts the Rock Hurry-Up, and G-U-N-S-N-R-O-S-E-S starts a countdown bonus mode.
- Transformers has just one — spell B-U-M-B-L-E-B-E-E to start a temporary Double Scoring frenzy mode.
- Stern's Iron Man plays it straight with Iron Monger, as spelling M-O-N-G-E-R enables the Iron Monger Multiball mode. It's played with, however, for Iron Man himself; spelling I-R-O-N-M-A-N starts various timed Score Multiplier modes, but the letters only appear on the dot-matrix display. The playfield targets are instead labeled with pictures of Iron Man, as Marvel refused to allow "IRON" and "MAN" to appear on separate sides of the playfield.
- Cue Ball Wizard has P-O-O-L to enable the Video Modes and the Sweet Spot, W-I-Z-A-R-D to light the No Way target, and D-O-U-B-L-E to double all subsequent scores.
- In Tee'd Off, S-L-I-C-E starts a Slice Hurry-Up and lights the Extra Ball, S-K-I-N-S starts the Skins Game, and getting G-O-P-H-E-R on the Gopher Wheel enables the Go-Fore-Par-Tee three-ball multiball.
- Rescue 911: E-K-G temporarily increases the scores for the bumpers, while R-E-S-C-U-E lights the ramp for Player's Choice.
- Tales from the Crypt has C-R-Y-P-T for Crypt Multiball (and the Monster Jackpot), while K-E-E-P-E-R lights the left outlane kickback.
- In the Call of Duty: Black Ops First Strike map pack, one part of the Kassimir Mechanism sidequest requires using Lunar Landers to collect the letters L-U-N-A, in that specific order.
- In Lady Bug, collecting E-X-T-R-A in yellow letters gets you an extra life and 500 points, and collecting S-P-E-C-I-A-L in red letters earns you a Vegetable Harvest Bonus.
- In Nasen Jack for the Atari 8-Bit Computers, collecting the letters E-X-T-R-A gives an extra life.
- Wrecking Crew rewards you with an extra life if you find the letters M-A-R-I-O (or L-U-I-G-I as the second player) in that exact order.
- In Bubble Bobble, if a player pops enough bubbles to spell E-X-T-E-N-D (there are two E's in different colors), they win an extra life and the game automatically advances to the next stage.
- Other Taito games did this as well, most notably The New Zealand Story. That one also gave you an extra life for ten of the same letter.
- Captain Silver gave an extra life for collecting all the letters in CAPTAIN SILVER. Other letters of the alphabet were available, but they did nothing except give a few hundred points. This feature was removed from the Famicom version.
- In Donkey Kong Country, K-O-N-G appears in every level. Collect all four letters to win an extra life. In Donkey Kong Land, collecting K-O-N-G instead saves the game. In Donkey Kong Country Returns, the K-O-N-G letters instead grant a token, and getting all the tokens from a single world opens up a Brutal Bonus Level.
- In some bonus rooms, letters appear in a circle. You have to touch the letters as they blink in order to get the animal token, life balloon or other bonus.
- James Pond has B-O-N-U-S letters, which give you a bonus, as well as B-O-G-U-S letters, which don't.
- Collecting the letters M-E-G-A-M-A-N-V from each stage in Mega Man 5 unlocked Beat as a weapon power. He came back in Mega Man 6, where you needed to collect B-E-A-T from four stages, which you got by finding a hidden boss room and beating the level that way.
- In Mega Man 7, collecting R-U-S-H in the first four Robot Masters' stages unlocks the Super Adapter, which allows a Double Jump and Rocket Punch, but disables sliding.
- In Rod Land, if you collect all the flowers on a stage, enemies will start turning into letters when killed. Collecting E-X-T-R-A will instantly end the stage, winning an extra life and 10,000 points.
- Snow Bros gave players an extra life for collecting S-N-O-W. These letters could be obtained only from the special blue monsters.
- Sub Terra has G-E-M-S letters, since the point of the game is to collect gems.
- In Transformers Convoy No Nazo, the alternate ending is unlocked by collecting the letters R-O-D-I-M-U-S, which are hidden in seven different stages.
- Tumble Pop has alphabet letters scattered in some levels, and you need to complete the word TUMBLEPOP with them to gain access to the bonus stage.
- The educational platformer Word Rescue would give a 500 point bonus for collecting the letters for one of that level's vocabulary words, which was randomly chosen at the start of the level, but only if collected in the correct order. Individual letters in the wrong order wouldn't yield any more points than the generic book collectibles. It also had the added bonus of completely filling the slime meter, giving the player more ammunition against enemy Gruzzles who would force players to restart the level from the beginning upon contact.
- In Duke Nukem I you can collect D-U-K-E for a lot of points (if you do it in order), or a few points if you don't. Duke Nukem II did exactly the same for N-U-K-E-M.
- Crystal Caves has eggs which can be collected for 1000 points each. When shot, an egg turns into a letter which gives only 100 points, but getting all five letters (B-O-N-U-S) gives several thousands of points.
- Secret Agent has the letters S-P-Y on every level, which give a bonus when collected in order.
- In Prehistorik Man, spelling B-O-N-U-S teleported you to a bonus stage.
Shoot 'em Up
- Completing specific words awards a new vehicle in each RC Pro-Am game.
- RC Pro-Am and Super RC Pro-Am requires spelling N-I-N-T-E-N-D-O.
- Championship Pro-Am requires spelling C-H-A-M-P-I-O-N.
- RC Pro-Am II rewards a new car to any player who spells out PRO AM II. Unlike the other games in the series, Pro-Am II awards a new car on a player-by-player basis.
- Blazing Star has panels in each stage spelling L-U-C-K-Y. Collecting them all will result in a big bonus being awarded at the end of the stage.
- In the vector game based on The Empire Strikes Back, each of the four stages had a bonus goal (in addition to surviving the stage) which awarded a letter in J-E-D-I when completed. Completing the word awarded temporary invincibility at the start of the next stage. As each letter was specific to a stage, it could be worth it to deliberately avoid the bonus in the third stage the first time through so that, rather than waste the invincibility on the relatively easy first stage, it could instead be used on the punishingly difficult fourth stage of each level.
- Ballistix gives a 10,000 point bonus for spelling R-I-C-O-C-H-E-T.
- Mr. Do! and its sequels also had E-X-T-R-A to win an extra life. Usually, the player had to obtain each letter by picking up a special item and then defeating an "alpha-monster" bearing that letter.
- In Attack Of The Mutant Penguins, collecting letters from treasure chests to spell B-A-T or P-A-N will get Bernard or Rodney his main weapon.
- Yu-Gi-Oh! has the "Destiny Board" card, which requires you to spell out D-E-A-T-H (or F-I-N-A-L in the English release) one letter per turn, and results in an instant win.