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Video Game / StarTropics

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Some vacation.
Message from Dr. J

StarTropics is an action-adventure video game released by Nintendo in 1990. The main character, Mike Jones, is an all-American teenager who visits the tropical C-Island to see his uncle. Mike finds out upon his arrival that his uncle is missing, so he sets out on a rescue mission, with his trusty yo-yo as his only weapon.

After a short while, Mike discovers that his uncle was abducted by aliens. After a series of sidequests involving talking dolphins, witch doctors, a giant octopus, an obstinate parrot, and zombie pirates, Mike reunites with his uncle - who has been trying to save a bunch of good aliens from an evil alien overlord named Zoda. Mike climbs aboard the alien craft and defeats Zoda, rescuing an alien princess and a bunch of alien kids in the process.

The sequel, Zoda's Revenge, was released in 1994. Mike, his uncle, and the aliens discover an alien code that lets Mike travel through time via a magic book. Mike travels through the stone age, ancient Egypt, 19th Century London, the Wild West, the Renaissance, 1800s Transylvania, and Camelot. Along the way, he defeats duplicates of Zoda and is helped by Merlin, who reincarnates himself into several forms. Mike returns to C-Island to rescue his friends, who were taken hostage by the last Zoda clone, and the plot coupons combine to reveal the king of the good aliens.

The games are overhead-scrolling dungeon crawlers reminiscent of The Legend of Zelda with a few twists, such as the ability to jump. The first game features a distinctive control system where all player and enemy movements take place on a grid, limiting where you can stop or turn but making it easy to line up jumps and attacks. The sequel uses a more conventional system where you can stop or turn at any time. Opinions differ as to which scheme is better.

Both games are available for the Virtual Console on the Wii and Wii U for those who bought them, and the first game was included on the NES Classic mini-console as well as being part of the NES Online package for Nintendo Switch.


  • The All-American Boy: Mike's All-American-ness — contrasted with and found strange by the natives of the islands he's visiting (first game) and the people of different eras (second game) — is a large part of the game's humor and tone.
  • Anachronism Stew: Cleopatra ordering a pizza. Hold the anchovies. Vaguely pizza-like foods such as focaccia did exist at the era, but the considerable differences aside they certainly weren't called pizza and the concept of ordering one for delivery was nearly 2000 years into the future. Any pretense of being accurate to history is dropped when the pizza arrives in a cardboard box.
  • The Artifact: Tiles. In the first game, the tiles were an integral part of gameplay, and factored heavily into the snap-to controls. Mike could only jump onto and off of tiles, and there were lots of "footprint" tiles that would either make an item or a switch to open doors and treasure chests appear. The sequel's free motion controls made the tiles almost pointless, but the footprint/switch mechanic was too convenient to drop... so tiles only appeared when they needed to be stomped, at a rate of maybe a couple rooms per dungeon.
  • Artifact Title: Startropics 2 doesn't really have much to do with stars or tropics - it's all about time travel. Although the final level of Startropics 2 is C-Island. Nonetheless the setting is one of the things people who like 1 but not 2 tend to bring up a lot.
  • Artistic License Biology: Mica's telepathy is able to penetrate the barriers of space and time to allow her to communicate with Mike regardless of the location and time period he's in.
  • As the Good Book Says...: Mike and Baboo reenact the tale of Jonah to escape the whale's belly.
  • Back from the Dead: The C-Serpent from the first game returns in the sequel as a skeletal version of itself. It learned a couple new attacks since you last fought it.
  • Bag of Spilling: Because losing everything between games isn't annoying enough, you lose all of your medicine, special weapons, and bonus lives between levels. Your heart meter is 'restored' to three, the bare minimum, but anything above that remains empty. This is especially obnoxious at the start of Chapter 8 (from the first game), which begins with a boss fight and no way to heal before it.
  • Batter Up!: The second special weapon Mike acquires. With this, you can swat at enemies surrounding you. "Horse Hides" (slang for baseballs) are useful only against one boss, Broken Joe.
  • Beauty Contest: You meet both Miss Coralcola and Miss Miracola. Mike can impress the latter by claiming she's more beautiful ("Smart and cute!").
  • Big Bad: Zoda is this in both games. He even cloned himself in the second game that he sent back in time.
  • Blah, Blah, Blah: How Mike relates adventures to the historical figures he meets. Well, it beats jumping up and down.
    "Blah blah seeking pizza blah traveling blah blah..."
  • Bland-Name Product: The pizza that gets delivered to Cleopatra is a Caesar's Hut brand pizza - a portmanteau of American pizza chains Little Caesar's and Pizza Hut.
  • Bookends: The first scene of the first game and the final scene of both games are on C-Island.
  • Boring Return Journey: After acquiring the scroll to awaken Bananette in Miracola from the mountain hermit, Mike heads back to town off-screen, which is truly a mercy considering how many dungeons chapter 3 involved.
  • Boss-Arena Idiocy: Magma the Fierce, the first boss of Chapter 3 in the first game, appears to be an efreet, or fire genie. While the rest of that section of the cave was filled with lava, this guy decides to make his lair in the one room filled with water. Furthermore, he attacks you on a platform made of tiles, and includes switches that will collapse the platform and drop him in the water. This is the only way to defeat him - he's completely immune to all of Mike's weapons, and would have been invincible had he just made his lair in a room with lava in it!
  • Boss Rush:
    • Chapter 8 in 1. Starts with a battle against Zoda, a few corridors with enemies, a boss battle against the ship's engine, a couple more corridors, and then a battle against Zoda in his true form. And if you die at any point in this, you get to do it all over again.
    • The second half of the last level in the sequel. Mercifully, there's a maze right before where you can get as much as 6 jars of medicine with some heavy jumping, although the correct path is Trial-and-Error Gameplay for that much (take the bottom path), and if you got past the C-Serpent without too much trouble (not terribly difficult if you know what to expect), you should still have the medicine from the first half of the level. Be sure to get all of this, especially in case the rematch with That One Boss gets really irksome.
  • Brand X: The pizza chain that Cleopatra's pizza comes from is called Caesar's Hut (a combination of Little Caesar's and Pizza Hut.)
  • Brats with Slingshots: Projectile weapon of choice in Miracola's dungeon.
  • Brick Joke: In the beginning of Chapter 8 of the first game you jam bananas in your ears so you can't hear Zoda's gloating. In the ending sequence of the second game a character mentions that you still have them in your ears. That might be a Plot Hole, though, since he's seen taking them out at the end of the first game.
  • Bruce Lee Clone: The Spike Shoes temporarily transform Mike into a karate-kicking tornado of justice. In practice, the item acts as a weak Smart Bomb.
  • But Thou Must!: Whenever Mike is asked if he'll do something, the game will not proceed until you give the answer the game is looking for. So literally that if you're given a yes/no question and you answer "no", the game will just repeat the question over and over and over and over until you say "yes". A few times, notably talking to King Arthur in the sequel, you can say no, but this just means you can't progress at all. You have to walk outside, come back in, and ask him again.
  • Call-Back: In Chapter 6 of the first game you can find an apple in a hidden room. The game says "It's delicious! But nothing happens!" The joke is repeated with a chicken nugget in the sequel.
    • The final chapter of the 2nd game is on C Island, with the village and first part of level exact recreations of the village and first level from the first chapter of the first game, and the first boss a skeleton snake of the first game's first boss snake.
  • Cats Are Mean: Cleopatra's pet. It apparently starts chewing on people if left hungry.
  • Chekhov's Skill:
    • Mike is referred to as an ace pitcher frequently, this skill is required to defeat a boss. It's also apparently why he's so good at using the yo-yo as a weapon.
    • In the second game, his primary weapons consist of an axe, a dagger, and a katana. He attacks with all three by throwing them.
  • Chest Monster: They're not fooling anyone, but the second game has red tinted treasure chests that hop around and shoot coins at you. Attacking one with anything but the Psychic Shockwave causes all of them to turn into damaging coins and zip around at lightning speed.
  • Collision Damage: In both games, touching any enemy or traps will do (often severe) damage. In the first game, Mini Bosses and above will kill you instantly on contact. It's made worse by the near total lack of after-hit-invincibility in both games, allowing enemies to land multiple hits on you in rapid succession.
  • Continuing is Painful: If you die at any point, you restart with only 3 hearts. This wouldn't be so bad if:
    1. hearts weren't so hard to find!
    2. Your weapon is weak unless you're at high health.
    • You also lose any medicine and special items you had when you died, and depending on where the game places you back, you generally won't have a chance to recover them.
    • In the sequel, you had a psychic attack that got weaker as you lost health, but your regular weapon always stayed the same strength, taking some of the pain out of continuing. It ——also starts you off with five hearts instead of three when you respawn.
  • Creator Provincialism: Mike's hometown is in Washington State, where Nintendo of America is located.
  • Critical Annoyance:
    • It's even worse in the sequel, where the sound is much more annoying and takes a lot less damage to trigger.
    • The first game had a soft beep that fired off every second or so or if you did some action, which is a strange case of this not being (as) annoying.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!: Movement feels stiff because every entity is anchored to a tile grid. This complicates trying to avoid projectiles and obstacles but guarantees that you'll always jump a set number of spaces. However, in the second game, movement is no longer rigidly enforced by a tile grid which opens the possibility of dying by undershooting or veering off-course when you jump.
  • Disguised in Drag: Mike, when he has to access Shecola.
  • Dismantled MacGuffin: The 3 Cubes in the first game, the 7 Tetrads in the second game.
  • Early-Bird Boss: Yum-Yum in the sequel if you strike the boar right in front of him; if that doesn't happen before he eats the boar, hitting him the 30 times you need to hit him isn't terribly hard at all.
  • Epic Flail: The first upgrade of the yo-yo is a flail called Shooting Star and after collecting the second upgrade, the Shooting Star turns into the Super Nova.
  • Enter Solution Here: INPUT FREQUENCY!!! kept the letter that came with the game, right?
  • Fake Difficulty:
    • Because Continuing is Painful, and a lack of Mercy Invincibility (more pronounced in the second game).
    • As well as the fact that the first game occasionally tricks you into jumping to the next screen...directly into a pool of water/lava.
  • Feather Flechettes: In the sequel, Zoda-Y's true form is a giant owl-beast that shoots out its feathers when it flaps its wings.
  • Feelies: The game came with a letter that had to be dipped in water to obtain a code...and if you didn't have it, you're screwed... until now. 747. You're welcome.
    • Even if you had the letter, it could take a while for you to realize that when the in-game characters were talking about "the letter attached to the instructions" they weren't referring to some in-game item you had to find...
    • As game manuals are easy to lose and not included with rentals, this issue generated tons of calls to Nintendo's tips hotline and letters to Nintendo Power. The code was eventually published in Nintendo Power.
    • To get around this roadblock in the Virtual Console release, the letter is simulated inside of the game's operations guide on the Wii, and actual scans of the letter before and after water are included on the Wii U version. Unfortunately, the version included in the Nintendo Switch Online NES application doesn't mention the code at all.
    • It is possible to guess the right code, either by guessing obvious number possibilities, or simply brute forcing every possible answer one by one until you get the right one. It works eventually as long as you are patient to the point of obsessive.
    Caution: Do not taste, eat or otherwise consume this paper
    Note: This letter is very important, so please hold onto it until the end of the game.
  • Fission Mailed: At the end of the first game, Mike escapes from Zoda's exploding spaceship, only to end up in the middle of the ocean. Mike briefly swims towards the left of the screen, then struggles to keep afloat. His head goes under, and you hear the usual "you just lost a life" jingle. The screen fades out... and then you're suddenly back Where It All Began, courtesy of the dolphin from Chapter 2.
  • Friendly, Playful Dolphin: Mike rescues a baby dolphin so that the mother can help guide him in one chapter. They return the favor by saving Mike's life at the end of the game.
  • Frothy Mugs of Water: The saloon in the Old West in the second game apparently pours ginger ale instead of booze of any sort.
  • Fun with Palindromes: Mica tells Mike that her father, Hirocon, spoke to her in a dream and told her "Was it a cat I saw? Was it a rat I saw?". Mike then tells his uncle, Dr. J, about what Hirocon said which makes him suddenly realize why he couldn't figure out the Argonian cipher he found on the escape pod: It needs to be read backwards.
  • Giant Hands of Doom: The first phase of the Zoda fight involved these.
  • Giant Squid: Octo the Huge.
  • Gonk: The queen of Shecola, despite rumors to the contrary.
  • Guide Dang It!:
    • Unless you find it by accident, have the manual, or search online, you won't know that, to reach your extra items (Medicine Jars, etc.), you have to pause and then press down.
    • The part of Chapter 5 (first game) where you have to play the giant pipe organ. The game's hint tells you which notes to play - but in solfège. For players who don't know solfège, it's a guessing game.
    • It's made slightly more cryptic by the fact that the musical tune that must be played is "Do Mi So Fa Do Mi" which has been warped by generations of parrots playing the telephone game into the final "Do me so far, do me." Or possibly a translation error based on the translator not being familiar with solfège. Also, you have to exit and enter the tower again if you mess up.note 
    • Before the Internet made walkthroughs widely available, you were screwed if you didn't have the physical letter from Dr. J that came with the game. And if you couldn't decipher the clue, you were screwed even if you did have it. Fortunately, the Wii Virtual Console release hides the code in the Operations Guide, fittingly on the page that contains Dr. J's letter. The same can't be said for the NES Classic Edition and Nintendo Switch Online versions, though.
    • Broken Joe is only vulnerable to the baseball, and then only when his mouth is open. The baseball doesn't even have an effect on any other monster, and it's likely that players will have already deemed them useless and never think to try them - or try them but hit him with his mouth closed and assume they're as ineffective against him as they are against everything else.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: The Frankenstein monsters you fight in the sequel; hit them once and the top half of their body disintegrates, leaving their legs from the waist down dashing around erratically.
  • Haunted House: Chapter 7 of Zoda's Revenge is set in one.
  • Heart Container: In a direct lift from The Legend of Zelda; you get more either by finishing dungeons or finding them in the overworld. It's even possible to farm one in a later chapter through the use of abusing continues.
  • Heroic Dolphin: Mike rescues a dolphin in the second stage of the first game. It returns the favor at the end of the game.
  • Inexplicably Preserved Dungeon Meat: Three of the sealed caves that Mike can blast open in the Wild West looking for gold nuggets contain giant chicken nuggets. They taste delicious!
  • In the Past, Everyone Will Be Famous: In the second game, Mike meets Cleopatra, Sherlock Holmes, Leonardo Da Vinci, King Arthur, and Merlin in his travels through time.
  • Indy Escape: The Megatons parody this by virtue of being giant bowling balls.
  • Insane Troll Logic: Sherlock Holmes deducing in the second game that, just going off Zoda-X's name, there must two other Zodas named Zoda-Y and Zoda-Z. He's right, but it's still a huge reach regardless, especially as the game was released in the mid-90's at the height of Xtreme Kool Letterz usage.
  • Insurmountable Waist-Height Fence:
    • Both games are filled with barriers that appear extremely short, but nonetheless cannot be jumped over.
    • A partial example with the various square platforms that you have to jump onto, even if they're right next to each other. This is used against you at one point when you're put in a room with the floor consisting entirely of platforms and full of mummies you'd be able to easily outrun if you could just walk normally.
  • Invisible Monsters: Several ghosts, including the boss in the page picture, are invisible until exposed with a Magic Rod.
  • It's Up to You: When you finally meet Dr. J, he decides he prefers the comforts of his asteroid crater than setting foot in the UFO.
  • Joke Item:
    • The Big Apple in chapter 6 of the first game. It's delicious but it doesn't do anything.
    • In chapter 5 of the second, The gold nuggets that turn out to be chicken nuggets. See above.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: This is the best weapon Mike can get in Zoda's Revenge, however if the life meter is full enough this weapon is overshadowed by his Psychic Shock Wave.
  • Killer Yoyo: Mike's signature weapon. Surprisingly, he never wields one in the second game.
  • Lady Land: Shecola.
  • Leap of Faith: Required several times throughout the game to trigger invisible platforms and otherwise continue on through the dungeons.
  • Lighthouse Point: In the second chapter of the first game. The guy in charge of it has a wife who will tell you of a bottle washing up on the east beach, containing the code for the sub's dive function.
  • Mercy Invincibility: The first game had only a little bit, but the "snap-to" motion of the controls mitigated how much damage you'd take a bit. In second game, on the other hand, the snap-to was done away with and there was no mercy invincibility at all. If you more than let an enemy brush against you, you were guaranteed to take at least 2-3 hits off it, adding a great deal of Fake Difficulty to the game.
  • Mirrors Reflect Everything: Mirror Shields — predating Zelda's "Mirror Shield" by about a year. Useful for taking out wraiths and pirate ghosts.
  • Mission Control: Mica in the sequel. She can speak to Mike telepathically, and even from across time.
  • Nintendo Hard:
    • Especially the last two chapters of the first game, full of aliens/robots/alien robots with rayguns and a small army of robotic bosses, including one that looks (and walks) bizarrely like a giant chicken. Extra points for the fact that the only way to kill this boss is to push it back against the wall—not once, but twice. And did I mention that taking the wrong teleporter (which you have no way of telling apart) could put you in a room FULL of enemies?
    • Level 8 of the first game is an odd aversion. During the section where Mike has to destroy the spaceship engine, there's a secret (but easy to find) room Mike can fall into with an infinitely respawning super-vitamin that restores his entire lifebar, so if he messes up he can just fall into a hole, get the vitamin and try again. Then after the engine is destroyed, there are a few screens full of infinitely respawning Zoda-spawn that are very generous when it comes to dropping life refilling items. Though the Zoda-spawn stop being as generous when you reach the final boss.
  • No Fourth Wall: At the start of the sequel Mike asks the player if you know what happened in the last game. If you say no he directly tells you to go read the instruction manual.
  • Nostalgia Level: The final level of the sequel is a recreation of the first level of the original game - including a remix of the first game's main dungeon theme and an undead version of the first game's first boss.
  • One-Hit Kill: Physical contact with any of the bosses in the first game is instant death, as is contact with the Megatons (those giant bowling balls in Captain Bell's Cave).
  • One-Winged Angel: Zoda's second form on the spaceship.
  • Poison Mushroom: Signposts may reward Mike with an extra life or two... or steal one of them away. The signposts are adjusted in the second game to never take away lives.
  • Polly Wants a Microphone: Peter the talking parrot. He demands a gift before he'll talk to you, and what he says is a clue to the puzzle in Captain Bell's tomb. He's also the great-grandson of the original Captain Bell's pet parrot.
  • Properly Paranoid: Dr. J suspected something might happen to him, and took measures that turn out to come in handy, including encoding a secret message into an otherwise normal letter written to his soon to visit nephew.
    Mike, I found some strange runes in my last voyage. Since then someone has been watching me! I put a tiny transmitter in my shoe. Its frequency is 747MHz. Perhaps I worry too much, but better to be safe than sorry.
  • Psychic Powers: In Zoda's Revenge, Mike gains the ability to shoot Psychic Shock Waves. Too bad their power is dependent on his life meter.
  • Public Domain Soundtrack: "God Save the King/Queen", the then national anthem of the United Kingdom, plays when Captain Bell's ship sinks after solving the piano puzzle and finishing the dungeon that the puzzle unlocks. American players may be confused as to why "My Country 'Tis of Thee" is playing, as the tunes are identical.
  • Puzzle Boss:
    • Magma the Fierce, first boss in Chapter 3. He's completely invulnerable to weapons, and has to be fought by finding and then hitting two buttons to break the platform he sits on.
  • Ray Gun: Only found in the spaceship levels. A more powerful version fires 3-way scattershots, but has shorter range.
  • Revenge of the Sequel: In this case, literally inverted. The second game in the series is Zoda's Revenge: StarTropics II
  • Ring-Out Boss: The robotic alien that you fight at the end of Chapter 7. You have to shoot him relentlessly to push him far enough back so that you can trip a switch to make part of the floor disappear and then keep shooting him until he falls into the void. He can be killed from damage but it is far quicker to push him out.
  • Running Gag: Several NPCs comment on Mike's having bananas in his ears. This is also mentioned at the end of the sequel.
  • Scoring Points: In both games. Its presence has no impact whatsoever. You only see it after you beat a dungeon and there's no explanation as to how you score points. Nor do you even see your final score after beating the games, nor is there a high score list.
  • Ship Tease: Mica tells Mike in a backwards message that she'll be thinking of him just before she returns to her home planet with her people. Think she abducted Mike for their wedding?
  • Shock and Awe: The most powerful weapon in the first game is a lightning gun. It lacks the range of the ray gun, but has a wider beam and does more damage.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Mike's uncle is an archeologist named Doctor Jones.
    • Nav-Com, the robot that pilots Sub-C, looks like Nintendo's Robotic Operating Buddy.
    • In chapter 6 of the first game, to Robinson Crusoe of all things. You can find his skeleton, although Mike thinks the initials RC must stand for "Rob Crusocola".
    • Coralcola's chief looks suspiciously like a certain Nintendo mascot. To add to speculation, he refers to Mike as a "power player" and later proves himself to be quite the Tetris maestro.
    • If you don't want to listen about the ABC's of fishing the NPC states: Are you Nester?
    • Likewise, the chief of Bellcola is rail-thin and sports a curved mustache like Luigi. (Guess that makes Wario the chief of Miracola?)
    • The Egyptian pizza delivery man rides a Koopa Troopa on horseback.
    • The sequel contains a major Shout-Out to Tetris, (all the plot coupons are magic Tetris pieces!) although it was removed for the Virtual Console release.
    • The trap-filled Captain Bell's Cave in the first game, with collapsing floors, spear-shooting walls, and giant rolling bowling balls, feels like something right out of an Indiana Jones movie.
    • In the second game, Leonardo da Vinci gives you a Katana. (Which he claims he got from Marco Polo, of all people)
    • Zoda's Gas Mask Mooks look a lot like Zakus.
    • Also in the second game, Zoda-Y fights you by Teleport Spamming and firing bats and fireballs in sets of three. Further, you fight him in a Transylvanian castle?
  • Skippable Boss: Not by design. However, if you use the Game Genie code for infinite health, you can jump onto the C-Serpent, walk up its body and jump into the next room rather than go to the trouble of fighting it.
  • Songs in the Key of Lock: "Do me so far, do me?"
  • Spread Shot: The second game has a 3-way shot, which starts appearing in chapter 7.
  • Sssssnake Talk: "Don't ask me anything. I'm a sssssnake."
  • Sue Donym: Mike eventually comes to "Michelle" when he does this.
  • Super Drowning Skills: Mike dies instantly when he falls in water... despite being very athletic and vacationing in the tropics.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: With Dr. J busy studying glyphs in Seattle, King Hirocon replaces him as the "Missing Relative Who Leaves Behind Cryptic Clues".
  • Swallowed Whole: Eventually, Mike is swallowed by a giant whale and reunites with Dr. J.'s assistant, Baboo. He confesses that he has withheld vital information from Mike, fearing the aliens who kidnapped Dr. J. would come after him. Baboo is relieved to see Mike safe and sound, but dismayed they had to reunite in the belly of a whale, of all places. Together they work on escaping the huge beast by building a fire and promptly getting sneezed out.
  • Talk to Everyone: Most notably in the first game, where in the three big villages (Coralcola, Miracola and Bellcola) assorted guards will not let you pass until you have spoken to every single person in the village, even though almost none of them have anything useful to tell you.
  • Theme Naming:
    • All the towns in the first game are named "(Blank)cola." Leading to the unappetizing town in chapter 4 called Tunacola.
    • When speaking to an NPC, the generic response Mike gets is, "You're from Americola?", or, "Spacycola....?" The lady guard in Shecola assumes 'Michelle' is from a place called Radicola.
    • Zoda is one letter away from Soda... and as an added bonus, one of the NPCs in the Playable Epilogue talks about how Mike "creamed Zoda".
  • This Was His True Form:
    • Zoda first appears as a cloaked figure with a horned helmet. When Mike first confronts him he turns into a giant floating head and a giant hand. After the beatdown, Zoda shifts back into the cloaked form, and then into the Xenomorph-esque final form.
    • In the second game, each of the three clones of Zoda has a different true form, but you only see the Zoda-X's true form as part of his death animation. (It's the same as the original Zoda's Xenomorph form). The other two you have to fight in both forms: Zoda-Y turns into an owl-like creature, while Zoda-Z transforms into a tall, muscular, reptillian alien.
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: combined with Katanas Are Just Better, above.
  • Time Travel: A major contributor in the second game's plot.
  • Too Awesome to Use: Medicine, especially since your inventory is emptied after every dungeon. In fact, it's probably best to use medicine after you've beaten the boss (!), before the exit.
  • Totally Radical: Mike fell into this a bit in the second game. Almost literally, as "radical" is what he calls every instance of time-traveling. (Complete with a Keanu-esque "Whoooa")
  • Trial-and-Error Gameplay: There are several screens where entering is instant death.
    • One of the more interesting ones is early in the first game. One room gives you a Medicine, a vital item, and opens a door to another room. This room also has a Medicine, and opens another door. In the next room... you jump straight into water, as the room has no floor. Only floating bones in the water.
    • In Magma the Fierce's dungeon in the first game, you enter a room with two tile paths leading upward on either side of the room. After jumping from tile to tile for two rooms, you have to jump upwards at the top edge of the room. One path leads to safety, the other path leads to instant death, and there is no way to know this ahead of time. Hint: the right path is right.
    • In the Ghost Village dungeon in Chapter 3 of the first game, every single obvious path locks you into an exit out of the dungeon, forcing you to restart. In order to actually complete the dungeon, you have to ignore the obvious paths and instead find the hidden ones. Maliciously, the final fake path is only a few rooms away from the boss, meaning you can complete most of the dungeon and then have to restart it again.
    • Captain Bell's cave has a couple. There are two rooms full of boobytrapped tiles which start collapsing after you jump on them. You have to find a switch to open the door before the tiles all crumble. There's also a room where immediately upon entering it you land on one of the tiles that will sink after a split second of your bodyweight - not too tough if you know it's coming, but it will catch you the first time.
  • Tropical Island Adventure: As the title of the games suggest, the first game mainly takes place on tropical islands. The second one...not so much, although the last chapter does take place on one.
  • Unique Enemy:
    • Squidos appear on just one screen in the game, mostly so you can try out your new Smart Bomb attack.
    • Four purple leg-fish things appear in the first room with the bubbles that make Mike unable to use his weapons. They don't do much, and are mostly there to teach players about how the bubbles work without surrounding them with nastier enemies.
  • Unstable Equilibrium: The power of your weapon is tied to the amount of hearts you have, and decreases as you take more damage. Zoda's Revenge averts this via the primary weapon, but plays it straight with respect to the Psychic Shockwave, which weakens as Mike takes more damage.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: When you finally kill Zoda in the first game, he'll start barfing right before he finally bites the big one.
  • Warmup Boss: C-Serpent. (Geddit)?
  • Where It All Began: The final chapter of the sequel returns to C-Island. The first half of the final dungeon is even a retread of the very first dungeon of the original game, before it suddenly turns into a Boss Rush.
  • Womb Level: The whale in the first game. Learn of Baboo making for the east after arriving on the chapter's island, then sail that way yourself...Nom.
  • Writing Around Trademarks:
    • In light of "yo-yo" becoming a trademarked term, for the Virtual Console release of StarTropics, Nintendo changed the weapon's name to "Island Star."
    • Tetrads are known as "Blocks" in the sequel's Virtual Console release. On a related note, the chief's middle name is no longer "Tetris," but "Puzzle."
  • You Shouldn't Know This Already: You have to jump on the tile ten times to create a bridge in Chapter 3, but it won't work until after you are told to do so in Shecola, supposedly because you have to shout a magic word to make it work. You also can't play the tune on Captain Bell's organ until Peter teaches it to you, even if you-the-player know it already.

Where are you from? Tropecola...?


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Zodas Revenge, Star Tropics 2


The StarTropics Letter

An infamous example in the old-school Nintendo days was a game called StarTropics. As explained by DidYouKnowGaming, the player had to dunk a physical letter into water to retrieve a code needed to progress.

How well does it match the trope?

4.93 (14 votes)

Example of:

Main / GuideDangIt

Media sources: