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North American NES box art
Developer(s)Nintendo R&D3
Locomotive Corporation
Director(s)Genyo Takeda
Designer(s)Makoto Wada
Programmer(s)Masato Hatakeyama
Composer(s)Yoshio Hirai
Platform(s)Nintendo Entertainment System
  • NA: December 1, 1990
  • EU: August 20, 1992

StarTropics is a 1990 action-adventure video game developed and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo Entertainment System. Unlike most of Nintendo's games, it was never released or intended to be released in Japan. It was released only in North America and Europe. It was produced, written and directed by Genyo Takeda of Nintendo Integrated Research & Development (who also developed the Punch-Out!! series). StarTropics was followed by a sequel titled Zoda's Revenge: StarTropics II, released in 1994.

StarTropics was released on the Wii Virtual Console on January 7, 2008, in North America[1] and on January 11, 2008, in the PAL regions;[2][3] it was released via the Wii U Virtual Console in Europe on September 3, 2015,[4] in Australia on September 4, 2015,[5] and in North America on May 26, 2016. On November 11, 2016, the game (alongside 29 other games) was included in the NES Classic Edition / Nintendo Classic Mini: Nintendo Entertainment System released by Nintendo.[6] On March 13, 2019, the game (alongside Kid Icarus) was added to Nintendo's Nintendo Switch Online service for the Nintendo Switch.[7]


An overhead view of Mike's starting location in StarTropics, C-island, so named due to its resemblance to the letter "C"

The story of the game follows 15-year-old Mike Jones, a high school baseball team captain from Seattle, as he travels to visit his uncle, an archaeologist by the name of Dr. Steven Jones, at his laboratory on the fictional C-Island in the South Seas. When Mike arrives at Dr. Jones's home in the tropical village of Coralcola, he finds that his uncle has gone missing. The chief of Coralcola gives Mike a special yo-yo to defend himself, and Dr. Jones's robot Nav-Com permits Mike to use his uncle's submarine to search for him. On a nearby island, Mike finds a bottle with a message from Dr. Jones, stating that he has been abducted by extraterrestrials. Traveling to many of the isles of the South Seas, Mike encounters monsters, labyrinths, quirky characters, and intelligent animals, including a talking parrot and a mother dolphin looking for her son, all in the search for his lost uncle.

Eventually, Mike and the submarine are swallowed by a whale. In the belly of the whale, Mike encounters his uncle's assistant, who confirms that Dr. Jones was abducted by aliens, and out of fear, he did not give Mike all possible help when they met earlier on C-island. After they escape the whale, the assistant gives Mike a special code, which enables Nav-Com to track Dr. Jones's location. Mike follows the signal to the lost ruins which includes the melted wreckage of an alien escape pod. Shortly afterward, Mike finds his uncle. Dr. Jones explains that he discovered the escape pod some time ago, and says it came from a far-away planet called Argonia. This escape pod contained three magic cubes, which are now in the hands of the evil aliens' leader Zoda.

Infiltrating their spaceship, Mike recovers the three cubes and confronts Zoda. Mike defeats Zoda and then escapes as the spaceship self-destructs. After Mike returns to C-Island, the cubes are placed together and a small group of children appear. The leader of the children, Mica, explains that they are the last of the Argonians (their home planet having been destroyed) and that her father King Hirocon sent them to Earth to live in peace. The village chief invites the children to live with them in Coralcola, to which they accept.


StarTropics is played from a 2D, top-down perspective, similar to many other role-playing games of that era. The game is divided into several chapters; in each chapter, players take control of the protagonist, "Mike," exploring various settlements and other areas of interest and interacting with non-player characters in order to obtain more information about the surroundings. The player is then usually tasked with locating the source of some local calamity or disturbance. When the player enters a more dangerous locale, the game switches mechanics, bringing the view closer in and introducing various obstacles and adversaries that the player must either navigate or destroy.[citation needed]

A yo-yo serves as Mike's primary weapon (renamed "star" in the Virtual Console release[8]). As the player progresses, other weapons and tools are made available that will aid in Mike's journey, including several items influenced by American baseball.

The game was also packaged with a physical letter, which set up the story and was used within the game's plot. During gameplay, the player is prompted to dip this physical letter in water to reveal a hidden code (747), which is required to progress in the game.[9] In response to questions from fans, the code was also published in Nintendo Power.[10] In the Wii Virtual Console release, the letter was added to the manual, which instead plays an animation of the letter being dipped in water before revealing the code.[11] The Wii U Virtual Console release replaced this with an explanation in the manual that the original release required players to dip an insert-letter in water, followed by an image of the submerged letter.


In a contemporaneous review, the Green Bay Press-Gazette praised the game's graphics and sound, but considered it too similar to The Legend of Zelda and deemed the gameplay "dreadful."[26]

AllGame's Christopher Michael Baker also found the game to be derivative of The Legend of Zelda, but still "very much an excellent game".[13] Michael Baker commented on the graphics, noting that the characters and action sequences "look fantastic" while the travel scenes were "kind of dull".[13] IGN's Lucas M. Thomas praised the creative gameplay of StarTropics, calling it "the natural evolution of the original Legend of Zelda."[17]

In the September 1997 issue, Nintendo Power had 12 staff members vote in a list for the top 100 games of all time.[25] The magazine placed StarTropics at 64th place on their list.[25] IGN ranked it #35 on its "Top 100 NES Games" list.[27]


  1. ^ Faylor, Chris (January 7, 2008). "Wii Virtual Console Gets Star Tropics, KOF '94". ShackNews. Archived from the original on August 22, 2016. Retrieved October 19, 2015.
  2. ^ Groenendijk, Ferry (January 11, 2008). "On the PAL Wii Virtual Console today: Star Tropics and Alien Storm. New Japanese games on the horizon: Do Re Mi Fantasy: Milon's Quest and Smash Ping Pong". Video Games Blogger. Archived from the original on September 30, 2015. Retrieved October 19, 2015.
  3. ^ Vuckovic, Daniel (January 10, 2008). "STARTROPICS AND ALIEN STORM HIT AUSSIE VIRTUAL CONSOLE". Vooks. Archived from the original on June 24, 2016. Retrieved October 19, 2015.
  4. ^ Zangari, Alex (September 2, 2015). "Both StarTropics Games Will be Available on Wii U Virtual Console in Europe Tomorrow". Gamnesia. Archived from the original on October 7, 2015. Retrieved October 19, 2015.
  5. ^ Vuckovic, Daniel (September 1, 2015). "AUSSIE NINTENDO DOWNLOAD UPDATES (4/9) RUN, CLIVE, RUN". Vooks. Archived from the original on September 19, 2015. Retrieved October 19, 2015.
  6. ^ "Nintendo's releasing a miniature NES console packed with 30 classic games". July 14, 2016. Archived from the original on July 15, 2016. Retrieved September 23, 2017.
  7. ^ Fogel, Stefanie (March 6, 2019). "'Kid Icarus,' 'StarTropics' Coming to Nintendo Switch Online in March". Variety. Retrieved May 5, 2023.
  8. ^ Thomas, Lucas M. (January 7, 2008). "STARTROPICS REVIEW". IGN. Archived from the original on October 20, 2015. Retrieved October 19, 2015.
  9. ^ Concelmo, Chad (August 23, 2007). "The Memory Card .13: The submerged letter". Destructoid. Archived from the original on September 24, 2015. Retrieved October 19, 2015.
  10. ^ Currie, Tom (December 9, 2013). "WHEN VIDEO GAMES BREAK THE FOURTH WALL". Mandatory. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved October 19, 2015.
  11. ^ Scalzo, John (January 18, 2008). "StarTropics". Gaming Target. Archived from the original on September 21, 2015. Retrieved October 19, 2015.
  12. ^ "StarTropics for NES". GameRankings. CBS Interactive. 2019. Archived from the original on December 9, 2019. Retrieved February 24, 2021.
  13. ^ a b c Baker, Christopher Michael (2007). "StarTropics (Nintendo Entertainment System) - Review". AllGame. All Media Network. Archived from the original on November 14, 2014. Retrieved February 18, 2016.
  14. ^ Semrad, Ed; Harris, Steve; Alessi, Martin; Williams, Ken (April 1991). "Review Crew (Nintendo - Nintendo): Star Tropics". Electronic Gaming Monthly. No. 21. Sendai Publishing. p. 16.
  15. ^ Whitehead, Dan (January 12, 2008). "Virtual Console Roundup - Alien Storm and Startropics". Eurogamer. Gamer Network. Archived from the original on October 21, 2020. Retrieved February 24, 2021.
  16. ^ Herranz, Sonia (May 1994). "Lo Más Nuevo – Nintendo N.E.S.: StarTropics – La Isla De Los Monstruos". Hobby Consolas (in Spanish). No. 32. Hobby Press. pp. 128–129.
  17. ^ a b Thomas, Lucas M. (January 7, 2008). "StarTropics (Wii) Review - Now begin the test of island courage!". IGN. Ziff Davis. Archived from the original on January 11, 2012. Retrieved September 5, 2011.
  18. ^ van Duyn, Marcel (January 8, 2008). "StarTropics Review (NES) - Embark on an extraordinary adventure". Nintendo Life. Nlife Media. Archived from the original on October 22, 2020. Retrieved February 24, 2021.
  19. ^ "What Happened To Dr. Jones? - StarTropics; Power Express: Now Playing - Your Guide To The Latest NES Releases". Nintendo Power. No. 21. Nintendo of America. February 1991. pp. 38–53, 85.
  20. ^ Sanz, Juan Carlos (June 1994). "NES: StarTropics". Superjuegos (in Spanish). No. 26. Grupo Zeta. pp. 118–121.
  21. ^ Anton, Michael (July 1997). "NES Classics: Startropics". Total! (in German). No. 49. X-Plain-Verlag. p. 55. Archived from the original on July 26, 2015. Retrieved February 24, 2021.
  22. ^ Hoogh, Eva; Hengst, Michael (July 1992). "Test: Inselhüpfen Einmal Anders - Star Tropics (NES)". Video Games (in German). No. 8. Markt & Technik. pp. 72–73. Archived from the original on October 17, 2019. Retrieved February 24, 2021.
  23. ^ Martinez, Mark (1996). "Star Tropics". Nintendojo. Archived from the original on May 24, 2007. Retrieved February 24, 2021.
  24. ^ Jones, Tony (December 1992). "Marios Magic - StarTropics (NES)". Play Time (in German). No. 18. Computec. p. 72. Archived from the original on February 24, 2021. Retrieved February 24, 2021.
  25. ^ a b c "Nintendo Power's 100 Best Games of All Time - So, You Wanna Fight About It?". Nintendo Power. No. 100. Nintendo of America. September 1997. pp. 88–101.
  26. ^ Kohout, Rob; Gustafson, Brent (May 11, 1991). "StarTropics Falls Far Short of the Nintendo Hype". Green Bay Press-Gazette. p. D1.
  27. ^ "Top 100 NES Games". Retrieved March 26, 2023.

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