I've been using my genetically garnered superhuman powers to play the xbox 360 version of robotron 2084 for a couple of days. one of my buddies at microsoft brought his arcade version to work, so I had the benefit of playing that for many relaxing hours. the xbox 360 version is better, IMHO, to the xbox version. I found that one difficult to play because the controls weren't precise - as you fans know, robotron is all about precision movement.
while I've moved up a bit in 360 standings, I haven't achieved anywhere near the scores that I was getting on the arcade machine. partly to remind myself, I thought I'd create this post and share my thoughts about the game's strategy. I'll add some of this to the wikipedia article as well - although, I guess it's original work and therefore shouldn't really be in there.
humans - humans are the key to the game. every 25,000 points, you receive a bonus life. humans are worth the most points, so they will largely be responsible for your bonus lives. shooting a grunt will gain you 100 points, but collecting a human can gain you 5000 points.
but not only do you need to collect humans, you need to collect them in bulk. one human will get you 1000 points, but if you get another before you die, you will receive 2000 points. this is true up to 5000 points. once you've worked up to 5000, every human you get on the level is worth 5000 points. when the level ends, you go back to 1000 for the first human.
the fact that humans are worth so much - and worth so much more in bulk - is the most important strategy point in robotron. successful robotron games are a balance between aggressively collecting humans and knowing when to protect yourself. humans are important but no one human is worth dying for.
grunts - these are the red robotrons that make up the bulk of the robotron force. they don't fire projectiles, so it's tempting to try and dodge them to get to people. for example, on the first wave, you should dodge the grunts and pick up the people. however, as time goes by on each level, the grunts accelerate and they will quickly exceed your speed.
electrodes - electrodes are stationary and don't fire projectiles. you may think that this means that you can simply ignore them. I recommend that you fire at them whenever you aren't firing at something else. while they are stationary, they restrict your movement and therefore should be eliminated when possible.
hulks - hulks are big green robotrons that destroy people. you cannot kill hulks, but you can move them ever so slightly by shooting them.
spheroids - spheroids are arguably the most dangerous enemy in the game. they appear on many waves and they spawn enforcers. the key to most levels is destroying the spheroids before they spawn too many enforcers. enforcers fire quick rounds and they fire many rounds.
enforcers - don't mess with enforcers, take them out ASAP. note that enforcers will sometimes camp in a corner and fire wildly at you, when this happens, you should forget everything else and destroy the enforcer.
quarks - quarks are similar to spheroids, but they aren't as common and they spawn tanks instead of enforcers. you will first see them on wave seven. just like spheroids, they represent an impending threat and you should destroy them first.
tanks - tanks will stop shooting if 20 shots are fired currently on the game field and no tank is destroyed. if a tank is destroyed, the counter will reset to zero.
brains - brains turn people into progs and they fire snake-like projectiles. some people find the snake rounds to be the most dangerous projectiles in the game. this is probably true, but I'll still target a sphereoid before a brain. brains are dangerous, but they don't spawn many new attackers - each with their own projectiles.
there are only a few types of waves that rotate around. obviously, the goal is to collect enough people that you are gaining more lives than you are losing through each cycle of waves.
wave 1 - easy... take your time and get the people.
wave 2 - just shoot the spheroid and you'll have an easy time.
wave 3 - get out of the middle and use any extra rounds to shoot at the spheroids.
wave 4 - pretty much the same as wave 3.
wave 5 - this is the key wave. you want to get lots of people (the mother) on this level. try to take out the sphereoids and the brains while picking up the people and avoiding the grunts. if you get killed, you want to have just grunts left with the remaining people. there are so many people available in this wave that it will make or break your game as you cycle through the waves.
there is a subtlety on wave 5 that can make a huge difference in your game. when everything appears, there is one boy human and numerous mother humans. the brains will not turn the mothers into progs until the boy human has either died, or has been rescued. so, the best plan is to prevent the brains from getting the boy without picking him up; this will allow you to pick up more mothers because the brains won't be converting them to progs. note that this will only work for your first life.
wave 6 - another level where you just want to get to the side right away and target the spheroids.
wave 7 - this level is fun :P the quarks will spawn tanks if you don't get rid of them quickly, so forget about everything else - just worry about shooting the quarks. if you happen to get some people, that's great, but don't let it distract you from getting those quarks. once the tanks have spawned, they are difficult to deal with. note that the worst place to be (as with many levels) is in a corner. by strafing up and down along a side, you can best deal with the tank projectiles.
wave 8 - another wave where you must get the sphereoids.
wave 9 - the infallible logic of the grunts dictates that they rush you like the last beer at an open bar. get out of the centre ASAP and then rotate around the edge while you fire into the mass of grunts and any enforcers. the best way to do this is to quickly identify the area of the screen with the least objects (you should make this decision before you spawn) and fight your way through that area. don't worry about anything but survival. if you don't get out of the center with your first attempt, the grunts accelerate and this level gets very difficult.
wave 10 - this one is crowded, but part of that crowd is vital human beings. use your weapon to clear a path as you collect as many as possible.
- "bullets follow walls" - US Army Ranger talking about the incident that inspired Black Hawk Down. on many levels, it is a good idea to get to the edge of the screen quickly. however, once you have done this, it is a good idea to avoid being right against the side. many rounds will follow the edges of the screen and hit you. definitely stay out of the corners.
- you can move faster going diagonally than you can horizontally or vertically.
- many lives are lost because people try to move before the full screen has been drawn. often a little move will get you fragged because there was a quark or some other obstacle that hadn't yet fully appeared.