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The Return of the Return of Dr. Sloth!

by amaratantatyri


SPACE STATION - "What? I only get 1 Neopoint for every 250,000 points I score? What sort of game is this?"

For the player just starting out, The Return Of The Return Of Dr. Sloth might seem chaotic and confusing. It's a fast-paced game, and you'll definitely have to keep your fingers moving and your attention keen. If you are a careless player, you probably won't earn very many NP at all. The Games Room doesn't call TROTRODS "hard" for nothing! But once you get the hang of the game, it can be lots and lots of fun. Right now it's my favourite game on Neopets.

TROTRODS resembles a number of other Neopian action games, such as Pterattack and Swarm. You're armed with a few lasers and sent out to protect your home from massive squadrons of flying enemies. You shoot and shoot, gathering powerups as you go.

There are a few things that make TROTRODS different from those other games, though. For one thing, there's the scoring system. If you don't understand this system, you won't even get enough game points to earn one Neopoint. But once you learn to make the best of it, your score can soar, literally, into the trillions. If you don't believe me, take a look at the high-score board and count the digits in the biggest numbers!


The scoring works like this. Shooting an enemy will give you a certain number of Neopoints. Let's call that number x. However, here is where it gets interesting: every time you destroy a ship, it leaves behind bits of glowing orange debris. Every time you pick up one of those orange pieces, you will create a multiplier for every x to follow. So, for example, if you shoot a ship by itself, you might get ten points. But if you gather some orange debris first, then shoot the ship afterward, you will get the ship's value (ten points) times your current multiplier.

What's even better, you can shoot other things in the game -- namely, asteroids and fungus blobs -- in order to get a multiplier for your multiplier! The things that increase your multiplier and your multiplier-multiplier do not actually give you points. Instead, they increase the number of points you get the next time you shoot a ship. And once you do that, that ship drops more orange dots that you can pick up in order to make your multipliers even bigger!

Once you advance in the game, each ordinary ten-point ship might be earning you 1,000,000 points because of all your accumulated multipliers. The multiplier-multiplier maxes out at 999, but I've never reached any maximum limit for the ordinary multipliers at all.

Unfortunately, every time you lose a life (by crashing into ships or rocks, or by getting shot down), your multipliers are reset to 0. Therefore it's a really good idea to take good care of your little spaceship. If you carry your multipliers over from level to level, they can reach insane amounts. But if you have to start over frequently, you won't be earning very many points even in later levels.

The Levels

There are six levels that I know of in this game. I have never completed the sixth -- if you have, feel free to Neomail me and tell me how you did it :)

Level 1: Kreludor

Your rank on this level is Cosmic Delivery Boy. You will be fighting fast, weak ships called Space Bats. There are 115 in all, out of which I can usually destroy between 90 and 100. This level is actually quite tough. Even though I am an expert at TROTRODS, I sometimes get unlucky and lose a life or two on Kreludor. So don't feel bad if you have trouble getting past this level at first.

Level 2: Babaria

First gun upgrade (parallel shots)

Your rank on this level is Space Cadet. There are 24 Space Bats on this level, and you will also meet some new ships called Interceptors. Interceptors send down a rain of green lasers which can be very intimidating. One good thing to remember is that you move faster than the lasers do, so you can generally kill an Interceptor and then duck out of the way before its lasers reach you.

There is one particularly difficult wave of Interceptors late in this level, which I defeat through a series of carefully-timed zigzags between the middle and the edge of the screen.

Level 3: Fungor V

Your rank on this level is Spaceship Janitor. This is a very unusual level. It has no asteroids, but instead there are floating pink Fungus Blobs that give you a very low +3 multiplier-multiplier. The ships you fight are also very unusual. (I suspect they might not actually be ships at all, because they look like big brains or something!)

Fungus Ships shoot sprays of what look like tiny eyeballs with tails. Be careful, since those weapons can go behind the fungus ships as well as in front of them, so you're not necessarily safe even if the ship has passed you. You can shoot these little eyeball things for points too. There are also a handful of Space Bats and Interceptors on this level.

Level 4: Meridellia

Second gun upgrade (triple shot)

Your rank on this level is Intergalactic Bounty Hunter. Meridellia is a very pretty world that looks a bit like Meridell. However, it is much more dangerous than Meridell! Watch out for the Stationary Guns, whose lasers are aimed right at you no matter where you are on the screen. What's worse, if you don't destroy a Stationary Gun quickly enough, it will create what I call a "fireworks attack" which fills the entire screen with damaging explosions. You'll have to do a lot of careful dodging.

The other new ship you meet in Meridellia is called a Chomby Fighter (do Chombies fly them? does Dr. Sloth think they look like Chombies?). These are covered in tough armour and need to be shot multiple times. As always, there are a few Space Bats and Interceptors on this level too.

Level 5: Sulphagne

Third gun upgrade (quad shot)

Your rank on this level is Commander. This is an extremely difficult level and I have only gotten past it a handful of times. You meet a new kind of enemy called a Missile Ship. Each Missile Ship creates dozens of tiny blue heat-seeking missiles that will follow you all over the screen. I recommend making a kind of sweeping motion which takes you behind the missiles so that you can shoot them out of the air. It's also possible to get the missiles to crash into each other instead of you by leading them around the screen with broad, confident movements.

Once, just once, I caught a glimpse of a wicked programmer's face on this level. Or maybe I dreamed it...

Level 6: Aishon IX

Your rank on this level is Overlord. There is a trick to this level, but I won't tell you what it is since that would ruin the surprise :) I have never finished this level, but the introductory text leads me to believe that it is the final level of the game.

Gameplay Tips

* When you first start out, just focus on survival. Each enemy ship enters the screen at the same place every time you play; learn when and where each attack wave appears so that you can prepare for it. When you get better at the game, then you can figure out ways to maximize your points by shooting asteroids.

* Be sure to pick up powerups whenever you see them. A green cross will replace lost health; a blue arc will replace lost shields; a red missile pack increases the power of your weapon (but only to the maximum for that level); and a mini-spaceship will give you an extra life.

* Don't forget to use the whole screen! You might be able to get a good score in Pterattack just moving back and forth, but in TROTRODS you need to go back and forth, up and down, and curve round ALL OVER. This is especially important when dodging the attacks of the Stationary Guns in Meridellia and the heat-seeking missiles on Sulphagne.

* Remember that asteroids and fungus balls will block your shots, so you cannot destroy ships behind them until you destroy them. This also goes for the times when there is a ship immediately behind another ship.

* It's a good idea to find a balance between shooting ships and picking up debris. If you shoot ships but don't pick up debris, then none of the ships you destroy will give you very many points. If, on the other hand, you focus too much on shooting rocks and picking up orange things, you will be building up a huge multiplier that you're not actually applying to anything.

* If your shields are strong, you can survive crashing into an asteroid (once). But crashing into another spaceship will always lose you a life, even if you're at full health and shields. So, um, don't do that. :)

* Sometimes you get a short break between attack waves (there is a message announcing that the next squadron is on its way). You can still shoot asteroids and pick up powerups in this time, so be sure to build up your multipliers and heal yourself while waiting for the next wave.

* If you lose a life in later levels, you will start the level over again with a single laser. Usually you will find gun powerups floating around the screen very early on, so you can upgrade back up to where you were when you died. On Sulphagne, however, this can be very difficult. Missile Ships are too tough to be destroyed with a level-one gun, so you need to dodge them (and their missiles!) while hunting around for an upgrade. If a powerup doesn't appear on the screen within the first few seconds, you probably won't survive.

* For some reason the game does not keep track of your high score. Your high score table only preserves your most recent score, even if it was a bad one! My real high score is around 48 trillion, though perhaps when you look at my userlookup you'll see a much lower number if I've had a bad day. :)

Good luck!

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