Pinball: Starship Troopers

Honor - Glory - Survival

"Come on, you apes! You want to live forever?!"

Starship Troopers is an arcade pinball game based on Paul Verhoeven's film adaptation of Robert A. Heinlein's sci-fi novel. It was designed by Joe Kaminkow and Joe Balcer, illustrated by Morgan Weistling, and released by Sega Pinball in 1997.

The pinball table casts the player as a member of the Mobile Infantry, who must visit six planets and kill all of the Arachnids in the Federation's Bug War. Blast the Warriors, Plasma Bugs, Hoppers and Tankers to secure a planet, then try to capture the Brain Bug before it escapes. Secure the planet and then advance to the next, or Arm the Nukes and Nuke 'em instead. Practice your gunnery skills on the Live Fire Assault Range, perform Recons for various awards, then use the right Mini-Flipper to score Double Kills and Advance In Rank. Survive long enough to make your way to Klendathu, then kill all the Bugs and Double Nuke them all to extinction.

Starship Troopers is often overlooked by players both due to its license and Sega Pinball's small marketshare. Most of those who've played the game consider it one of Sega's best tables, with fast flow, nonstop action, and lots of bombastic bug-blasting fun. The biggest drawback is the weak sound system, as Sega equipped the table with only one speaker to cut costs. Not surprisingly, adding a second speaker is an easy and popular modification for owners.

A digital version of Starship Troopers is available in Farsight's The Pinball Arcade. This is also the first SEGA Pinball table, as well as the second Pre-Stern Pinball table in the library.

Starship Troopers demonstrates the following tropes:

  • Anti-Frustration Features: If you start the third ball with a score less than 30 million, the Extra Ball will be enabled.
  • Big Bad: The Brain Bug, who only appears after all the Bugs on a planet are killed.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: The Bugs, naturally.
  • Bug War: The whole plot of the game (and its license, natch).
  • The Cameo: One of the things the Brain Bug thinks of in the Match Sequence is Sonic the Hedgehog.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: The different types of Bugs and their associated targets are associated with a color — yellow for Warriors, blue for Plasma Bugs, green for Hoppers, and red for Tankers.
  • Cool Ship: The playfield includes a Viking Drop Ship and a TAC Fighter.
  • Difficult but Awesome: The Mini Flipper, which is controlled by a separate flipper button and is often ignored by new players. However, using it to hit a Bug counts as two hits, allowing you to clear out a planet much faster. It's also helpful for slowing down and controlling the ball. In addition, the digital Pinball Arcade version's Mini Flipper also allows for easy shots into the left scoop, which is often out of reach from the normal flippers otherwise: Trap the ball on the right flipper, then press the Mini Flipper to guarantee it goes in there.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: When the Mission Officer briefs you before attacking a planet, press both flipper buttons to make a bug impale him.
  • Match Sequence: The Brain Bug thinks of several items before he is shot. The number appears in his carcass.
  • Nuke 'em: The game embraces this trope with a full-contact bear hug. Not only are you awarded points for nuking planets, the game even has lanes labeled "Nuke", "Double Nuke", and "Super Nuke".
  • Off-the-Shelf FX: The playfield Bugs and spaceships are from Galoob's movie toy line.
  • Rated M for Manly: It doesn't get more manly than a never-ending Bug War against Big Creepy-Crawlies, where the only option is to Nuke 'em and Kill 'em All.
  • Shoot Everything That Moves: Clearing out a planet requires killing all of the Bugs there. The number and type varies according to the planet.
  • Skill Shot: When you launch the ball, a magnet will catch it above the BUG rollovers. Move the flashing rollover light with the flipper buttons so the ball drops in.
    • A Secret Skill Shot is available by holding the left flipper button to disable the magnet and send the ball to the left flipper. Hitting the right ramp will award a 5 million Ramp Skillshot.
  • Spelling Bonus: B-U-G raises the bonus multiplier, while shooting the ramps spells S-T-A-R-S-H-I-P and T-R-O-O-P-E-R-S to raise the Recon level.
  • Timed Mission: After killing all the Bugs on a planet, you have a limited amount of time to capture the Brain Bug before it escapes.
  • Video Mode: "Psychic Test", which is available as a random Recon award. Use the flipper buttons to select a card, then see if it matches the one held by the examiner. Getting the correct card awards a Special (free game), with lesser awards for matching other attributes like the suit or number.
  • Wizard Mode: Once all five planets have been cleared of Bugs and Nuked, shoot the Recon scoop to start the attack on the Bugs' homeworld of Klendathu. This is a 30-second mode with unlimited balls and all targets lit; you must kill nine Bugs of each species and make all five Nuke shots. Successfully doing so awards a 50 million completion bonus.
  • You Nuke 'Em: After a planet is secured and the Brain Bug is gone, the player will have a choice to either advance to the next planet or nuke the planet first. There's a tactical benefit to deferring the nuke, as waiting until later to Nuke 'em yields bigger bonuses.

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