No one ever really talks about the game of StarTropics. Usually the first thing on most people’s minds when thinking about it is “that gosh danged letter!”. For the uninitiated-

At some point during the game, the player is instructed to “submerge my letter in water” by the protagonist’s uncle in order to solve a puzzle. There is no letter in the game nor any mechanism by which to submerge it- the game is actually referring to a real, physical letter that came bundled in with the cartridge. Placing this letter in water would reveal a hidden message with the answer to the puzzle.

Now, we in the UK were a little less awestruck by such a break in the fourth wall- so-called ‘feelies’ were a fairly common pack-in with games for the home computers popular in Europe during America’s videogames crash. They were a subtle and fun way to combat the piracy rampant on machines using easy-to-copy cassettes and floppy disks. In the US, though, this cool trick has given StarTropics a somewhat legendary status, infamous especially among those who rented or bought second hand, and in modern times becoming the bane of collectors.

Well, now I’m guilty of being one of those people who only talks about StarTropics the product instead of StarTropics the game, so!

Probably the best (or easiest) comparison is The Legend Of Zelda. Mike Jones explores dungeons and uses a yo-yo to battle enemies in melee range. There’s a much more pervasive sense of humour to StarTropics though; the dialogue and quests give me something of an Earthbound vibe, a gentle surreality that never quite surrenders itself to full-on wackiness.

Fin or Bin:

As part of the Wii U re-release, Nintendo included a digital copy of the letter, complete with hidden code, as part of the game’s online manual. For the Switch version however, the have forgotten to include it in any manner. If you intend to Finish it, as I do, then you’ll need to find the code some other way. Watch my first hour here!

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