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Tips on how to play Robotron 2084?

robotron 2084 arcade I need help

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#1 Austin ONLINE  

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Posted Sun Nov 6, 2011 3:40 PM

I thought I'd pose this question here as I know some of you were probably around when this game was new at arcades, and maybe some of you played it rather seriously. I'd like to be able to survive longer in Robotron 2084, but I'm not having much luck and I tend to wonder if I am missing something. My highest score right now is in the 260,000 points range, I believe, but I can't stay in the game much longer than that (I'm not sure what wave I'm at by that point. I know it's after the playfield goes full-screen, then shrinks back down after a couple of waves).

The only thing I can gather--or I may just be assuming--is that the game is so chaotic, and some enemy patterns and shots are so uncontrollable, that the only way to survive is by collecting all of the humans (or as many as humanly possible) in each stage, in order to negate whatever lives you lose. This especially seems to be the case (for me anyway) in the later stages, where the screen is so cluttered with enemies, that dying seems unavoidable.

I feel I am somewhat competent at later games in this line, like Smash T.V. and Total Carnage, so it's not like I'm entirely new to this genre, but Robotron is just brutal. Can anyone provide any tips?

#2 bomberpunk OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Nov 6, 2011 4:37 PM

back when i was in middle school, there was this after-school club which had a small arcade room in it. among games like Ms Pac-Man (on full speed) and Yie Ar Kung Fu was Robotron 2084. i rememeber lasting a good 5-10 minutes on one quarter, but whatever skills i learned then have been forgotten.

so with that, having epilepsy and a firm grip helps.

kidding aside, i'm interested to hear some strategies from some veterans of the game's heyday.

#3 Cynicaster OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Nov 7, 2011 5:56 PM

I was playing Robotron for a few hours on my cabinet last week and have just concluded that I completely suck. That game is possessed.

#4 akator OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Nov 7, 2011 7:54 PM

I was playing Robotron for a few hours on my cabinet last week and have just concluded that I completely suck. That game is possessed.


Agreed. I have a friend who repeatedly scores over 500K, but I'm lucky to get over 150K. I simply don't have the "twitch" awesomeness...

#5 M.A.M.E Offender OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Nov 7, 2011 8:04 PM

Please don't mistake me for being a pro at this game, as I definitely am not. I do consider myself a fairly competitive amongst a room full of average players.

I have gotten 385,000 on Blue Label(difficulty 3 of 10) and 255,000 on Red Label(difficulty 5 of 10). Not amazing, but not too bad either.

Fortunately for my pocket book, I hardly ever delved into Robotron 2084 at the arcades. It was there, but I somehow knew better than to go anywhere near it. Virtually all of my playing time has been spent on my XArcade with MAME.

It is an extremely fast paced game, and I am willing to bet that there are very few true masters out there. Don't kid yourself, though. There are guys out there that can absolutely tear this game up, and they're not dying very often! If you want to watch board 82, board 416 or any board in double digits, just goto youtube and you will find it. You must try this search to see it for yourself!! Your jaw will fall off your face!!

Five really quick tips for the road that I have discovered:

1. A lot of times you will find you carelessly bump into your enemies. Practice sitting still when you are in the close vicintiy of any and all enemies. While sitting still, fire in all the directions you think would clear a path. There are lots of times where you don't have to be moving to survive.

2. It is possible to increase your firing rate in this game. While your right joystick (fire) is held in a particular direction, the gun will do an auto fire for you. If you can push directions faster than the speed of your auto fire, then you are increasing the rounds of fire per minute. I find a really effective way to spit out a ton of bullets is to do the infamous "RyuKen!!" move from Street Fighter back and forth as absolutely fast as you can. For those who haven't played Street Fighter, it is down, down/right, right for Ryu to throw his blue fire ball. Hence in Robotron2084, it would be dn, dn/rt, rt, dn/rt, dn, dn/rt, rt, dn/rt, dn....use this tactic in any direction, obviously.

3. The red quarks will spawn very quickly as you get deeper into the game. They will usually whip across the board, stick themselves in one of the four corners of the board and proceed to spawn the blue guys that are dangerous and very aggressive. Chances are you will only have time to hit one or two of the red guys. You must practice going to the corner where there are the most quarks(red guys) so less blue guys form, increasing your chances of survival tremendously.

4. Sometimes you have to battle those pesky blue creatures, no matter what. It is a good idea to stay off the perimeter of the board in the presence of these creatures, as their projectiles(that look like rolling jacks) will always fly across the board, then stick to the outside of the screen. The shots from the blue guys are much less effective when you are in the middle of the board. They tend to fly slower, sometimes slow enough that you can run away while shooting not only the projectiles, but the blue guys as weLL!

5. Your mission statement is to save the people. If you do so and somehow stay alive long enough to string a substantial amount of innocent human rescues, you will be rewarded in a big way. Seven can be rescued for 25,000/free man. Stay alive long enough for an additional five rescues and get another 25,000. The humans are heavily populated in the 7th, 12th, 17th board etc...and every 5th board, with the latter being the most populated. Base your game strategy around squeezing as many points out of these boards to stack up on men. The board with the cash registers that throw those softballs at you(7th board) is the best time to practice your quick fire move I mentioned in tip 2.

I hope to hear some feedback, and some additional secret tips on this crazy, insane, two joystick, classic from Williams.

Go Robo.

#6 Austin ONLINE  

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Posted Mon Nov 7, 2011 8:45 PM

Awesome advice, man! I will be sure to check out some YouTube videos and give it some more time tonight. I'm currently playing it via the XBOX 360 (Live Arcade) emulated version from several years back. I'm not sure what default difficulty it sets to, but it seems to be identical to other past emulated versions I've given time, like the one on the Dreamcast Midway collection, likewise with the Flash game Midway used to have on their site. My guess is it might be level 3 like you mentioned, where I've been able to get up to 300,000 at my best. Had a really good run last night, but what you described happened--I started running into enemies left and right and lost my lives (where ironically, I blazed through the first ten waves or so without much trouble, just being "in the zone"). I have no doubt that my controller is hindering my progress a bit too, with the 360's wonky d-pad and having to press four separate buttons to fire, but I've slowly figured out some of the traits you described, like realizing I don't have to bolt all over the place to survive. Sometimes it's better to stay still and work on creating a clear path. I will keep working at it and check out those videos in the meantime! :)

#7 NE146 OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Nov 7, 2011 9:58 PM

I have scored a million in Robotron on the default difficulty.. it took me years but I eventually did it. I can't do it consistently though. I'd say I can average 400-800k once I get warmed up on a regular arcade machine.

My standard tips:
1. Keep moving. Circle around the playfield perimeter works pretty good. Stay close to the edge however NOT right along the edges, but just away from it. The reason is the shots from the Enforcers (the crazy things that hatch from the red circle "Spheroids") tend to hug and slide right along the wall of the playfield and will kill you easily if you're right on it.

2. Speaking of Enforcer shots... they actually go a lot slower the CLOSER you are to them. So don't be afraid to approach them and use your dodging/shooting skills. The further you are away, the faster the shots are.

All that being said, of course try to kill as many of the Spheroids as soon as possible. They bunch in the corners so get them there.

3. Get as much humans as possible. The 5000 pts per human is the key to racking up big points and thus racking up lives which of course is what you need. You get an extra man every 25k so that means 7 humans = extra life. If you're at the end of a wave and still have humans, go get them before shooting the last enemy.

4. On every 9th "Grunt" wave screen. Look for the part of the screen with the lowest concentration of grunts and beeline that way forming a path, then start circling.

3. The red quarks will spawn very quickly as you get deeper into the game. They will usually whip across the board, stick themselves in one of the four corners of the board and proceed to spawn the blue guys that are dangerous and very aggressive. Chances are you will only have time to hit one or two of the red guys. You must practice going to the corner where there are the most quarks(red guys) so less blue guys form, increasing your chances of survival tremendously.


I think you're talking about the Spheroids (the Quarks are the ones that spawn tanks, and do not bunch in corners). But yes, kill them off as soon as you can.

Edited by NE146, Mon Nov 7, 2011 9:58 PM.


#8 Mxyzptlk ONLINE  

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Posted Mon Nov 7, 2011 9:59 PM

Please don't mistake me for being a pro at this game, as I definitely am not. I do consider myself a fairly competitive amongst a room full of average players.

I have gotten 385,000 on Blue Label(difficulty 3 of 10) and 255,000 on Red Label(difficulty 5 of 10). Not amazing, but not too bad either.

Fortunately for my pocket book, I hardly ever delved into Robotron 2084 at the arcades. It was there, but I somehow knew better than to go anywhere near it. Virtually all of my playing time has been spent on my XArcade with MAME.

It is an extremely fast paced game, and I am willing to bet that there are very few true masters out there. Don't kid yourself, though. There are guys out there that can absolutely tear this game up, and they're not dying very often! If you want to watch board 82, board 416 or any board in double digits, just goto youtube and you will find it. You must try this search to see it for yourself!! Your jaw will fall off your face!!

Five really quick tips for the road that I have discovered:

1. A lot of times you will find you carelessly bump into your enemies. Practice sitting still when you are in the close vicintiy of any and all enemies. While sitting still, fire in all the directions you think would clear a path. There are lots of times where you don't have to be moving to survive.

2. It is possible to increase your firing rate in this game. While your right joystick (fire) is held in a particular direction, the gun will do an auto fire for you. If you can push directions faster than the speed of your auto fire, then you are increasing the rounds of fire per minute. I find a really effective way to spit out a ton of bullets is to do the infamous "RyuKen!!" move from Street Fighter back and forth as absolutely fast as you can. For those who haven't played Street Fighter, it is down, down/right, right for Ryu to throw his blue fire ball. Hence in Robotron2084, it would be dn, dn/rt, rt, dn/rt, dn, dn/rt, rt, dn/rt, dn....use this tactic in any direction, obviously.

3. The red quarks will spawn very quickly as you get deeper into the game. They will usually whip across the board, stick themselves in one of the four corners of the board and proceed to spawn the blue guys that are dangerous and very aggressive. Chances are you will only have time to hit one or two of the red guys. You must practice going to the corner where there are the most quarks(red guys) so less blue guys form, increasing your chances of survival tremendously.

4. Sometimes you have to battle those pesky blue creatures, no matter what. It is a good idea to stay off the perimeter of the board in the presence of these creatures, as their projectiles(that look like rolling jacks) will always fly across the board, then stick to the outside of the screen. The shots from the blue guys are much less effective when you are in the middle of the board. They tend to fly slower, sometimes slow enough that you can run away while shooting not only the projectiles, but the blue guys as weLL!

5. Your mission statement is to save the people. If you do so and somehow stay alive long enough to string a substantial amount of innocent human rescues, you will be rewarded in a big way. Seven can be rescued for 25,000/free man. Stay alive long enough for an additional five rescues and get another 25,000. The humans are heavily populated in the 7th, 12th, 17th board etc...and every 5th board, with the latter being the most populated. Base your game strategy around squeezing as many points out of these boards to stack up on men. The board with the cash registers that throw those softballs at you(7th board) is the best time to practice your quick fire move I mentioned in tip 2.

I hope to hear some feedback, and some additional secret tips on this crazy, insane, two joystick, classic from Williams.

Go Robo.

What are the "blue label" and the "red label" difficulties you are talking about?

#9 Cynicaster OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Nov 8, 2011 11:22 AM

What are the "blue label" and the "red label" difficulties you are talking about?


Those are just two different ROM sets that are available in MAME that happen to have their difficulty levels tuned slightly differently. I imagine they correspond to two different revisions of the game code that were released back in the day to arcades.

I was playing this game again last night and almost got my first 250k score, but I totally shit the bed and lost like 3 lives in a matter of seconds.

I found that I saw a bump in my scores right away when I started paying closer attention to the left stick. I mean, I know it sounds like a no-brainer to pay close attention to the control that moves your character, but twin-stick shooters are rather special creatures in how they require you to split your attention, and I think I was focusing too much on aiming shots with the right stick, and just bumping into enemies as a result which should have been easily avoidable. So now, when things get crowded I just zone in on my movements and try to weave a path through the mess, while aiming out of the corner of my eye. It's kind of a rush to narrowly escape death in this game with some fancy footwork; I've actually shocked myself a few times by surviving scenarios that seemed like certain death. I'm glad I was home alone while playing, because I think I was taunting the machine a bit after a few particularly spectacular escapes. "HAHA! Who's your daddy, bitch?". :)

Now, if I could only do those types of moves more consistently, I'd be at 500k in no time....

#10 Austin ONLINE  

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Posted Tue Nov 8, 2011 2:55 PM

I'm going to have to get an X-Arcade stick and do this on MAME. It's nearly impossible to wave my shots using four separate buttons instead of a second joystick (the 360 port doesn't let you customize your controls either. Blah.). Definitely getting better (slowly) though. Hit about 330,000 last night.

#11 keilbaca OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Nov 8, 2011 2:57 PM

This is one game that I never could get good at. After watching youtube videos, its basically a race to the corner, then sniping enemies while collecting humans. :)

#12 M.A.M.E Offender OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Nov 8, 2011 4:24 PM

I have scored a million in Robotron on the default difficulty.. it took me years but I eventually did it. I can't do it consistently though. I'd say I can average 400-800k once I get warmed up on a regular arcade machine.

My standard tips:
1. Keep moving. Circle around the playfield perimeter works pretty good. Stay close to the edge however NOT right along the edges, but just away from it. The reason is the shots from the Enforcers (the crazy things that hatch from the red circle "Spheroids") tend to hug and slide right along the wall of the playfield and will kill you easily if you're right on it.

2. Speaking of Enforcer shots... they actually go a lot slower the CLOSER you are to them. So don't be afraid to approach them and use your dodging/shooting skills. The further you are away, the faster the shots are.

All that being said, of course try to kill as many of the Spheroids as soon as possible. They bunch in the corners so get them there.

3. Get as much humans as possible. The 5000 pts per human is the key to racking up big points and thus racking up lives which of course is what you need. You get an extra man every 25k so that means 7 humans = extra life. If you're at the end of a wave and still have humans, go get them before shooting the last enemy.

4. On every 9th "Grunt" wave screen. Look for the part of the screen with the lowest concentration of grunts and beeline that way forming a path, then start circling.

3. The red quarks will spawn very quickly as you get deeper into the game. They will usually whip across the board, stick themselves in one of the four corners of the board and proceed to spawn the blue guys that are dangerous and very aggressive. Chances are you will only have time to hit one or two of the red guys. You must practice going to the corner where there are the most quarks(red guys) so less blue guys form, increasing your chances of survival tremendously.


I think you're talking about the Spheroids (the Quarks are the ones that spawn tanks, and do not bunch in corners). But yes, kill them off as soon as you can.



Shit, your right. I got the enemies mixed up.

Do you think the default difficulty is 3 or 5?

A million on this game is quite an accomplishment. I have set my sights on getting a mil on the easier "Blue Label" version(diff level 3).

#13 M.A.M.E Offender OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Nov 8, 2011 5:27 PM

I'm going to have to get an X-Arcade stick and do this on MAME. It's nearly impossible to wave my shots using four separate buttons instead of a second joystick (the 360 port doesn't let you customize your controls either. Blah.). Definitely getting better (slowly) though. Hit about 330,000 last night.


If you decide to purchase an X Arcade machine, I guarantee you it will satisfy. No doubt it is inferior to a custom built stand up MAME cabinet. Nothing beats those. The X Arcade Tankstick, however, is a close runner up.

There are some minor issues I have had with my X-Arcade. For starters, the USB wires that protrude through the back are quite fragile. The trackball may lose power on one of the Axes(my y axis is poo). Other than maybe a couple minor hindrances, you have got yourself a gaming platform that is identical to many cabinets in existence. Dedicate a piece of furniture, a wooden box, or some other solid object to hold this beast still. Get creative like me and use antislip material under the structure of choice. Trust me, if you have any sort of will to play old arcade games, you absolutely have to do this.

Hope to hear that your X A is on its way!!

#14 M.A.M.E Offender OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Nov 8, 2011 5:59 PM

For Robotron 2084, some versions contain a quirky little bug in them.

On the first brain wave, which is the 5th board, try to get all enemies but one brain on the board. To pull off the trick, move your man to the far bottom right of the screen. Leave a brain that is close to the top of the screen, preferably favoring the right side. The brain will do a diagonal walk towards your current location. It will get to the far right, but will get stuck to the edge of the board. Your gunshots should just miss to the right of the brains. If the brain is on the upper half, you can indefinitely shoot your gun up and tag 25 points for shooting his squiggly bullets. This will take a long time to get anywhere on it, though. Let's do the math on it.

Avg 3 bullets shot per minute X 60min = 180 x 25 = 4800 pts per hour. Ok. round that to 5. To get a free man, it would take around 5 hours!!

Later boards, I am guessing that you could cut the time of getting a free man in half, as he would shoot more at you. Not sure. I haven't tried it on the 10th, only the fifth.

#15 Austin ONLINE  

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Posted Tue Nov 8, 2011 6:03 PM

Any tips on avoiding the blue brains' squiggly bullets, or am I basically SOL when a lot of them appear on the screen at once? Shooting only seems to work about 30% of the time, heh.

#16 Cynicaster OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Nov 9, 2011 11:39 AM

Another question about the brain stage. Is it just me, or does the number of humans on that stage vary wildly from game to game? Or is it just that sometimes they get mutated into progs more quickly than others? It seems like sometimes, after I thin out the brain brigade a bit, there are tons of humans strutting about and I'm able to scoop them up in bushel baskets, while other times there are only a few stragglers not even worth the risk to rescue.

#17 M.A.M.E Offender OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Nov 9, 2011 6:49 PM

Any tips on avoiding the blue brains' squiggly bullets, or am I basically SOL when a lot of them appear on the screen at once? Shooting only seems to work about 30% of the time, heh.


You must try to rid of the brains before they start shooting you. Even if they do shoot, you can shoot back. So practice shooting these bullets. What this will do is increase your chances of staying alive during the most critical time, during collecting people.
The good news with these guys is they wait a little bit of time before firing. The time varies with each and every brain on board. So practice blasting as many as you can before they get a bullet out. Ideally what you want to do is shoot all the brains out, then leave two or three grunts so you can run around and fetch as many people as possible.
So, in conclusion, practice shooting his shots, and hitting as many brains as you can before allowing them to shoot.

#18 M.A.M.E Offender OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Nov 9, 2011 6:55 PM

Another question about the brain stage. Is it just me, or does the number of humans on that stage vary wildly from game to game? Or is it just that sometimes they get mutated into progs more quickly than others? It seems like sometimes, after I thin out the brain brigade a bit, there are tons of humans strutting about and I'm able to scoop them up in bushel baskets, while other times there are only a few stragglers not even worth the risk to rescue.


Sometimes they gets mutated very quickly, for sure.

I am not sure about the head count to begin every 5th wave. It would be interested to see if it is a fixed or random number.

You could easily tell how many are on the board because they pop up first when the board fills out with enemies. So pause it after you see the first enemy appear to get a head count, if you're wondering.

#19 NE146 OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Nov 9, 2011 7:28 PM

It's common knowledge, but I guess no one's mentioned it yet.

On the first brain wave there will be a bunch of Mommys and one single "Mikey". Due to a bug (from what I hear) the brains will only go for mikey and will not touch any mommy's until mikey is dead/rescued. So, the trick to this board is to immediately spot out mikey, then protect him from the brains but do not rescue him.

Ideally you'll get all the robotrons down to one brain or grunt and that will leave you a sea of 5000 point mommys to rake in a bunch of extra lives.

#20 mr. toast OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Nov 9, 2011 11:40 PM

It's common knowledge, but I guess no one's mentioned it yet.

On the first brain wave there will be a bunch of Mommys and one single "Mikey". Due to a bug (from what I hear) the brains will only go for mikey and will not touch any mommy's until mikey is dead/rescued. So, the trick to this board is to immediately spot out mikey, then protect him from the brains but do not rescue him.

Ideally you'll get all the robotrons down to one brain or grunt and that will leave you a sea of 5000 point mommys to rake in a bunch of extra lives.


It's also important to get all the humans on Wave 4 or the bug might not work. Collect them or have them killed off, just make sure they're gone.

#21 Mxyzptlk ONLINE  

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Posted Thu Nov 10, 2011 3:26 AM


It's common knowledge, but I guess no one's mentioned it yet.

On the first brain wave there will be a bunch of Mommys and one single "Mikey". Due to a bug (from what I hear) the brains will only go for mikey and will not touch any mommy's until mikey is dead/rescued. So, the trick to this board is to immediately spot out mikey, then protect him from the brains but do not rescue him.

Ideally you'll get all the robotrons down to one brain or grunt and that will leave you a sea of 5000 point mommys to rake in a bunch of extra lives.


It's also important to get all the humans on Wave 4 or the bug might not work. Collect them or have them killed off, just make sure they're gone.

What bug?

#22 Cynicaster OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Nov 10, 2011 11:23 AM

It's common knowledge, but I guess no one's mentioned it yet.

On the first brain wave there will be a bunch of Mommys and one single "Mikey". Due to a bug (from what I hear) the brains will only go for mikey and will not touch any mommy's until mikey is dead/rescued. So, the trick to this board is to immediately spot out mikey, then protect him from the brains but do not rescue him.

Ideally you'll get all the robotrons down to one brain or grunt and that will leave you a sea of 5000 point mommys to rake in a bunch of extra lives.


That's very interesting, never heard of this before.

I'm sure it's a lot easier said than done, but I'll definitely be giving it a try.

I wonder if it's really a "bug", or if Mr. Jarvis put it in there intentionally....

#23 NE146 OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Nov 10, 2011 1:16 PM

It's common knowledge, but I guess no one's mentioned it yet.

On the first brain wave there will be a bunch of Mommys and one single "Mikey". Due to a bug (from what I hear) the brains will only go for mikey and will not touch any mommy's until mikey is dead/rescued. So, the trick to this board is to immediately spot out mikey, then protect him from the brains but do not rescue him.

Ideally you'll get all the robotrons down to one brain or grunt and that will leave you a sea of 5000 point mommys to rake in a bunch of extra lives.


That's very interesting, never heard of this before.

I'm sure it's a lot easier said than done, but I'll definitely be giving it a try.

I wonder if it's really a "bug", or if Mr. Jarvis put it in there intentionally....


This should clear it up. :P

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_zU4ZYG8d1k

#24 Mxyzptlk ONLINE  

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Posted Thu Nov 10, 2011 5:22 PM


It's common knowledge, but I guess no one's mentioned it yet.

On the first brain wave there will be a bunch of Mommys and one single "Mikey". Due to a bug (from what I hear) the brains will only go for mikey and will not touch any mommy's until mikey is dead/rescued. So, the trick to this board is to immediately spot out mikey, then protect him from the brains but do not rescue him.

Ideally you'll get all the robotrons down to one brain or grunt and that will leave you a sea of 5000 point mommys to rake in a bunch of extra lives.


That's very interesting, never heard of this before.

I'm sure it's a lot easier said than done, but I'll definitely be giving it a try.

I wonder if it's really a "bug", or if Mr. Jarvis put it in there intentionally....


This should clear it up. :P

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_zU4ZYG8d1k

Thanks for the video. I never knew that trick before. I am going to try it out on my G.C. midway treasures.

#25 littleman jack OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Nov 14, 2011 2:49 PM

I tend to go for the corners and stay out of the middle as much as possible. That generally works if you can get to the corners quickly enough. On some waves, it's almost impossible however.





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