Paul Spriggs presents –  The Definitive Guide to Extreme Robotron Mastery (Difficulty 10 club)

Robotron Doctorates – Seasoned veterans of the game showing superior proficiency in mastery of the game on maximum difficulty (10).

Honorary Degree in Extreme Mastery

  • Abdner Ashman (not currently an active player or available online)

Class of 2012

  • Marc Fournier
  • Paul Spriggs
  • Darrin Cormier

Class of 2013

  • Ken House
  • John McAllister
  • Matt Hall
  • Jeff Harrist

Class of 2014

  • Rick Gehlert
  • David Gomez

Class of 2017

  • Vatra Amidzich
  • Sean MacKenzie
  • <Your Name Here> To qualify for this list you must present your skills to the above alumni for review.  These folks are the electoral college that decides if you are qualified as a Guidebook Extreme Master or not.  Get out there and practice, good luck!

If you read through the ROBO-Bio’s you will see a small handful of extreme players who are capable of mastering the game on difficulty 10 (Maximum difficulty).  The choice for “Extreme Challenges” are listed on the High Scores page.

  • Mar 2014- update, baseline examples for consideration into Extreme Mastery class (10mil on diff10/25k bonus/3man start) – 750k on VKE- 235k on 1st man/diff 10- etc.
  • Spriggsy rolling the score at 10 million on difficulty 10 HERE, or reaching wave 512 on difficulty 10 HERE
  • Darrin C. rolling the score at 10 million on difficulty 10 PART1 PART2
  • Ken House pulling off a huge VK40-10 score TwitchTV
  • Marc Fournier performing the “9-wave special” on Difficulty 10 Youtube
  • Matt Hall VKE 10/50 749,000 VKE 1st man 235,800
  • John McAllister VKE 10/50 999,950 (JUST missed the million, wave 35ish) VKE 10/1st man 270,425
  • Jeff Harrist VKE 1st man 240k
  • David Gomez VKE, 920,700, Youtube, First ever VKE-40 score, 1,246,675, Youtube!
  • Rick Gehlert Second ever VKE-40 score, 1,107,025, Youtube
  • Vatra Amidzich VKE, 986,150, wave 35  (March 30, 2017)
  • Sean MacKenzie VKE, 1,042,500 (August, 2017), Youtube
  • Watch David Gomez pull off what has been deemed impossible and score an amazing 102,904,275 points on difficulty 10 after 24 hours of play HERE!
  • This is a task most players won’t attempt until they’ve become accomplished at playing on difficulty 5.
  • Just How DO they do it?

Build up to a 30k plus RQ over 100 waves  (tip from Darrin)

  • Score divided by wave should surpass 30,000
  • RQ and upper waves explained HERE
  • To survive marathon games on difficulty 10 requires an ability to obtain maximum bonuses every wave, which offsets the frequency in which you will lose lives

Build up your men early in the game (tip from Darrin)

  • Try to get beyond wave 5 before losing your first life.
  • Doing the Mikey trick on wave 5 is beneficial to the storage of men (ie 125k score means you have 7 men in storage)
  • Try to make it 100k per life on the early waves
  • By wave 10 the game is already tough as it heads toward the fastest action at wave 39 and 40

Point Press- (tip from Spriggsy)

The main tip I can recommend is to point press all game by getting as many humans as possible at all times. Even if you lose a life near the end of a wave and there’s only one or two humans left i recommend you should go for them regardless, as long as you dont seriously jeopardize another life, such as at the end of tank boards. Even averaging an extra 3-4 thousand a wave soon adds up your score but more importantly adds to your lives. 40 waves at an extra 3000 points per wave will leave you with about 5 extra lives so its worth going for. Be greeeeeeedy!!

Minimize your movement, Grunt Cross Firing technique-

At the beginning of waves where grunts are mixed in, try to go off to the side and eradicate grunts using horizontal and vertical firing.  Once they are out of the way you can work at removing the enforcers.

  • Wave 1 to 4, Grunt cross firing explained- Click video HERE
  • Watch Marc F play up to wave 9 on difficulty 10 and observe the limited movement at start of mixed grunt waves- Youtube video

Confuse the Enforcers-

  • per above, diff 10 grunts are so aggressive they tend to get killed off early, leaving you with a lot of enforcers toward end of the wave.
  • If you continually circle the group of enforcers you will stay ahead of their shots and give you time to slowly pick them off from the group.
  • Never stop changing direction or they’ll get a bead on your location
  • Youtube example

Learn the “offensive” with Tanks-

  • The toughest part of surviving difficulty 10 is the dominant accuracy of the tank bullets
  • In diff 5 gameplay, you could count on using firing as a solid defense.
  • In diff 10 gameplay, you must learn to rely on strategic player movements to stay on the offensive.
  • One way to do this is set the number of starting men to a high number, or infinite in mame, then play dodgeball with the tanks on wave 7, 12, 17, etc
  • Start with leaving 1 last tank at the end of the wave. then practice avoiding the shots until the tank runs out of ammunition.
  • When you can do 1 easily, bump up to 2, 3, 4, then 5.
  • Keeping some distance between you and the tanks seems to help so you have more time to react to the blazing bullets
  • In this video, notice I’m trying to get to a left or right side then bate their shots toward a corner whilst I run the horizontal to stay just ahead of the volley.  Youtube example.  Another Youtube at about 1m 10sec in.

Quarks Must Die-

  • The Quarks that spawn tanks will continue giving you excessive quantities of tanks.
  • The only solution is to hunt them to extinction before you focus on wiping out the mass of tanks.
  • It was the Vid Kidz design intention of Quarks to put the player in a situation where the wave continues to get worse even after a death.

Build up to Difficulty 10 gradually (tip from Spriggsy)

I recommend you gradually play up to level 10. Try from 7 for a coupla weeks, then 8 and so on.
Its like the boiling frog thing. If you drop a frog into a pan of boiling water then it will jump out, but if you put it in a pan of cold water and apply the heat it will stay in the water until it eventually boils to death.
This demonstrates 2 things :

  1. It’s much more difficult if you get thrown in at the deep end , so learn to boost your skill GRADUALLY! and you will eventually get there.
  2. The scientists who discovered the frog thing seriously have too much freakin’ time on their hands.

Try this approach and your Robotron skills will improve so that you can do rather better at level 10:

Do your homework:

  • Study Eugene’s Enemy Dynamics analysis.  HERE
  • Can you find new strategies or weaknesses in the game design yet to be exploited?

INSANITY (tip from Extreme Master level Defender player, Mikael L)

  • Can you hit 10million on max difficulty?  Try at 30k or 50k bonuses for earning lives.
  • At 50k you will have to lose less than 6 men every 10 waves to survive the gauntlet!

Take Advantage of Bad Emulation

  • Practice using a game platform that has poor video emulation such as any multi-PCB, XBOX versions, older MAME versions, which means a MUCH HARDER experience for the player.  About like a sprinter running with leg weights to make the real race easier.
  • Bad- 31 waves with strategy commentary using Chinese 19-1 multi-pcb- Youtube
  • Good- David G putting the strategies to use in a stellar performance using a real machine- Youtube
  • Good- 38 waves using “fixed” MAME (similar to real machine)- Youtube
  • BAD- 12 waves using XBOX360 Midway Arcade Origins (horrible emulation, not recommended)- Youtube
  • Good- 29 waves using JROK FPGA pcb (green board) (similar to real machine)- Youtube

Stay Relaxed! (tip from David)

  • I guess I can say that I eventually discovered while playing the incorrectly emulated MAME version of Robotron, that in order to succeed, you have to try and learn to relax your mind and body.  Serenity in the midst of chaos.  Suppress the Robotron Rage!  I had been playing on bad emulation since 1999, so by the time I got to play on a real machine somewhere around 2012, I couldn’t believe how much slower the game play actually was!
  • I used to bang the crap out of my X-Arcade controller at home, screaming at the LCD screen at the top of my lungs, freaking my wife and kids out!  Needless to say they, hated it whenever I played Robotron!  My wife would say, “If it pisses you off so much, why do you keep coming back to it?”  My answer?  “I have to beat it.”  Period.  Well, once I began to slowly accept the fact that I will NEVER beat it, I actually started seeing my game improve!  Could we ever hope to succeed in our jobs, relationships, or schooling if we are stressed out?  Nope. You may be surprised what you can accomplish if you keep stress at bay.  Remember that on this side of the screen, stress can be a real-life killer!

Secret is in the Technique (tip from David)

  • As far as technique goes, I always focus on the most dangerous enemy on the board.  In the early waves, immediately begin to fight your way out of the middle of the screen and run along one of the walls to pick off the spheroids lurking in each corner before they manifest into enforcers.  The hulks will do their best to guard the spheroids, so be prepared for that.  If some enforcers are quick enough to spawn, make sure you are ready to quickly move away from the walls, as their incoming shots will roll along the wall right into your man, like a bowling ball.  Also keep in mind that the enforcer’s bullets are just small enough to evade your fire as they are firing at you from your left or right along the bottom wall.
  • Try and keep as much distance between you and the brains as possible.  Try not to hug the walls too much or else you will cut your escape vector from the brains’ missiles in half.
  • As far as the tanks go, don’t be greedy.  Don’t focus too much on the humans and just pick off as many quarks as you can.  Get along one of the walls and start shooting along the wall, chances are you’ll hit several quarks that way.  Once the tanks begin to spawn, keep along a wall and try and pick them off while picking off or avoiding their fire.  Their shots are easier to manage if they are coming at you in one direction rather than every single direction.  Try to keep focus on your man so you can be ready to dodge incoming fire.  If you are running along the wall, be ready to play dodge ball and even be prepared to fire behind you occasionally, as the tanks are sneaky like that.
  • In the later waves, the first thing you should seek out are the quarks, then the spheroids, while keeping the grunts at bay.  You have to also ride the balance between greed and frugality by deciding when to go for humans, and when to just let them go.  Be as greedy as you can early on, because the further along you get in the game, the harder it will become to grab humans without losing too many of your men.
  • Just remember to have fun and enjoy yourself (even while having your rear handed to you Robotron-style)!

Priorities, priorities (tip from Rick)

  • Always keep in mind ‘where am i going to run next?’  Treat your escape route like a cave diver treats his – the #1 priority at all times.  When enforcer and tank projectiles start flying, you have to use your bullets to create the escape route, i.e. shoot yourself a path to an open area.  As the game gets harder, you generally need to keep running to maintain an escape route, but there is a big benefit with that behavior – it keeps hulks scattered and lets you pick up more people.

The Gehlert Loopback – (Rick Gehlert’s signature move on Brain waves)

  • When a swarm of Brain “lightning bolt” missiles gather together, they take on a rolling ball effect.  This can be used against them to help the player gain offensive positioning.
  • Watch the 11 and 13min marks of this VKE video (YOUTUBE)
  • Observe how the player is being chased by the swarm of lightning bolts, herding them to “boil and roll” to the upper center of the screen, whereupon the player loops back in the opposite direction of their roll and turns back on them.  The same style of evasive maneuver you’ll see in American football leading up to a touchdown!



  • Youtube link (video gets out of sync with audio repeatedly, sorry it is choppy)
  • Insights learned to help succeed in the quest
  • BRAINS- Run at diagonals at all times to outpace lightning bolts. Avoid touching walls around lightning bolts as it means death.
  • SPHEROIDS- Make them a top priority to remove at wave start
  • QUARKS- Lots of diagonal shooting and changing player trajectory to throw off their predatorial nature
  • TANKS- When near corners, watch for the backside double bank shot and take it out in the air.  When stuck with lots of tanks, go to a wall and lead the shots with back and forth movement against wall.
  • ENEMY PRIORITIZATION- Take out the most dangerous enemy on the screen, which means the enemy that complicates dealing with the most enemy type on screen at any time.  (3 brains, 1 enforcer- kill enforcer ; 1 brain, 3 enforcers- kill brain ; quarks/tanks in middle of mixed wave are priority to eradicate)
  • DIAGONAL SHOOTING- Optimize shooting with flutter fire so diagonals snag spheroids/quarks bouncing about, and reduce grunts that are encroaching at diagonals.
  • GREEEEEEDDD!- Paul says Be Greedy to earn bonus lives.  That actually means keep focus on most dangerous enemy while cleverly snagging as many humans as possible.  Don’t be on the wrong side of Risk vs Reward, because DeMar was a better programmer of risk/reward than any of you are as players.
  • MENTAL CALMNESS- Avoid Robo-Rage….yah right. We ain’t all the Ice-Man (aka David G)
  • SUB-CONSCIOUS MANIPULATION- Practice hard one day, then walk away.  Record the first game the next day as it’ll be a well-focused good game.  Then watch playback for mistakes made that aren’t obvious to you during heat of battle.


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Spriggsy and a fellow gamer at the 2013 Summer event in Newcastle, UK




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