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Pinball: Popeye Saves The Earth
"I yam armed and ready to save the planek!"

"The failure of pinball cannot be blamed on Popeye, but it sure didn't help our business."
Steve Ritchie, "Why Does Popeye Suck?", rec.games.pinball, 19 September 2010

Popeye Saves the Earth is a Physical Pinball Table designed by Barry Oursler and themed and illustrated by Python Anghelo, with additional artwork by John Youssi and Pat McMahon. It was released by Williams Electronics under the "Bally" label in 1994.

As is evident from the title, this is a game based on the long-running Popeye comic strip. Popeye's long-time nemesis Bluto is now a planet-polluting profiteer; his companies' toxic activities have endangered five species of wildlife, while Bluto himself has kidnapped Olive Oyl, and Swee'pea has gotten lost in a maze of corridors. It therefore falls on Popeye to rescue the endangered animals, find Swee'Pea, defeat the Sea Hag, and demolish Bluto's cartel of corrupt companies. Only then can Popeye find his spinach and Rescue Olive in a six-ball multiball frenzy.

Popeye Saves the Earth is infamous among pinball buffs for being one of the most vilified games in modern history, from its Anvilicious Green Aesop and odd use of the Popeye license to the view-blocking toilet-shaped upper playfield and clunky gameplay. Things were no better behind the scenes; the game required customized tooling which raised its price, and Williams' use of minimum orders incited a distributor backlash and threats of lawsuits. While a number of players enjoy it for its family-friendly theme and deep rules, Popeye Saves the Earth has become for many the Pinball equivalent of Plan 9 from Outer Space, Supertrain, and The Eye of Argon.


Popeye Saves the Earth demonstrates the following tropes:

  • The Ark: Popeye travels the world (and carries numerous animals) on "Popeye's Ark".
  • Artificial Limbs: On the backglass, Popeye's signature forearms have been replaced by a pair of pinball flippers.
    Popeye: "Blow me down, I iz a wiz of pinballz!"
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever/Make My Monster Grow: At the start of Olive Multiball, Bluto drinks Sea Hag's Insta-Grow potion to make himself larger and taller.
  • Black Bead Eyes: Seen on all of the Popeye characters.
  • Card-Carrying Villain/Corrupt Corporate Executive: Bluto, planet-destroying polluter and proud of it.
  • Clueless Aesop: Trying to convey a Green Aesop with Pinball is tricky enough; adding Popeye to the mix didn't help any.
  • Damsel in Distress: Olive Oyl, naturally.
  • The Dragon/Wicked Witch: The Sea Hag.
  • Eagleland: Taken literally, as one of Popeye's destinations is "L'Eagleland".
  • Fantasy World Map: The lower playfield has the Geomap, which shows the five regions Popeye must visit — Aphrodesia, Fashionation, L'Eagleland, Pandamonia, and the Sushi Sea.
  • Fetch Quest: Sea Hag Multiball is started after the player collects four items (a Can Opener, Baby Bottle, Ketchup, and Flower); it's completed by returning the items to their respective owners (Popeye, Swee'Pea, Wimpy, and Olive Oyl).
  • For the Evulz: This appears to be Bluto's only reason for doing what he does.
  • Friendly, Playful Dolphin: Popeye has to go to the Sushi Sea to save the dolphins.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: On the backglass, Olive Oyl is lounging next to a bottle of "Extra Pure Virgin Olive Oil Sun Blocker".
  • Green Aesop: As Anvilicious as they get.
  • Obviously Evil: Invoked by the names of Bluto's companies — Earth Pavers, Never Green Logging, Blutonium Waste, and Spill Oil Co.
  • Pandaing To The Audience: One of the endangered species is the panda.
  • Power-Up Food: Spinach, of course.
  • Progressive Jackpot: Olive's Dowry.
  • Rhino Rampage: Avterted; all of the rhinos in the game are friendly, docile, and endangered.
  • Saving the World: It's in the title.
  • Skill Shot: Launch the ball into the spinning Skill Shot Wheel and get the indicated reward.
  • Spelling Bonus: O-Y-L raises the bonus multiplier, while P-O-P-E-Y-E lights a can of spinach.
  • Wizard Mode:
    • The first sub-Wizard Mode is Sea Hag Multiball, and is enabled by collecting four Items — Can Opener, Baby Bottle, Ketchup, and a Flower. During this mode, return the Items to their owners to collect the jackpot.
    • The second sub-Wizard Mode is Bluto Multiball, enabled by locking three balls in the Lockjaw under his chin. This is a three-ball multiball, and the objective is to repeatedly shoot the left ramp to collect the Jackpot, then shoot the Lockjaw to relight it.
    • The final Wizard Mode is Olive Multiball, a six-ball multiball mode. To reach it, the player must rescue all five animals, complete the Sea Hag and Bluto multiball modes, Find Swee'pea, and defeat Bluto's four companies. To collect the Jackpot, collect five Spinach Cans and shoot the lock beneath Bluto's jaw to Save Olive.
  • Zonk: One of the award selections score a two-digit point value (e.g., 20, 50, 70).
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