Trog!

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Genre: Arcade

Publisher: Hi-Tech Expressions

Total time played: 3 Hours

Short review: A Pac-Man style game with more variety but suffers from dated late 80’s/early 90’s style which now seems dated.


Interesting links related to Trog!


 

What the heck is Trog!?

A Trog is a one eyed caveman who wants nothing more than to kill and eat you, a dino-mite named Bloop (1-player) or Spike (2-player). The game plays like Pac-Man but has quite a bit more gameplay variety. Unfortunately the game suffers pretty bad from early 90’s style that makes it feel very dated where Pac-Man has a classic timeless style.

How to play

There are 50 levels in Trog!. The goal of each level is to collect all of the eggs while avoiding the Trog! who are trying to kill you anyway they can. Once all eggs are collected you must exit through the “home” that appears somewhere along the edge of the screen. The game is very simple to learn but takes a while to get the hang of and learn the ins and outs to be successful.

Once your Dino-mite is moving he will continue to move in that direction until you tap another direction. This adds a level of difficulty to the game because if you hit the edge of the screen you will jump straight into the water and lose a life.

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Level 3, not too much going on here. Just collect the eggs and find the exit.

As you progress through the game things get a bit crazier. The Trog! get smarter every few levels as shown through cut-screens

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Trog! learned to create fire, a new obstacle to avoid.

Throughout the course of the game the Trog! learn new skills to kill you and get faster and you will need better timing with your attacks to kill them before they kill you.

You start the game with 3 lives and 2 continues. You earn an extra life every 1,000,000 points.

Defend yourself

Your main course of defense can be activated by hitting A or B when a Trog! approaches. This allows you to attack them knocking them out. But, like the ghosts in Pac-Man as soon as you defeat them they reappear somewhere else on the screen.

Powerups

Leaves – This will speed up your Dino-mite making him harder to catch, but, also harder to control.

Mushroom – The mushroom slows down your Dino-mite. I try to avoid these unless I have collected several leaves and my character is racing around the stage uncontrollably and I need to slow him down.

Pineapple – The pineapple is the equivalent of the big pellets in Pac-man. You are now invincible and can eat the Trog! Also, your Dino-mite is slightly smarter and won’t jump into the water by accident. It only lasts a short time so make the most of it. You earn 10,000 points for the first Trog! eaten and it doubles until you get 80,000 per Trog!, this is a great time to build up points and try to collect extra lives.

Horseshoe – The horseshoe makes you invincible for a short time but I never saw any indicator of when the invincibility wore out. Your character doesn’t change color and the music doesn’t change. I found myself dying quite a bit by hitting a Trog! while I thought I was still invincible.

Ice Cube – Temporarily freezes all enemies on the screen.

Hot Tamale – I very rarely ran into these. If you get a tamale you gain the ability to shoot fireballs for a short time which is great for killing Trog! from a long distance.

Hazards

Trog! – These cavemen wander the stage trying to kill you. If they touch you before you hit them you die.

Jumping Trog! – Just like the regular Trog! but they jump erratically and can land on you with little warning smooshing you dead.

Wheel – These wheels appear out of nowhere and run in a straight line over anything in their path, this includes you as well as the Trog! There is nothing more satisfying than a wheel running over 3-4 Trog! in a row.

Fire – Trog! will kneel down and rub sticks together to create fire. You will need to avoid this fire or you will be burnt to a crisp.

Hole – Trog! will bang their club on the ground creating a hole that will kill you if you fall in.

Tar Pit – A black smudge that will cover your Dino-mite in tar causing it to die.

The Secret to Success

Trog! is a really fun game. It is like Pac-Man but requires a bit more strategy. The game can get a bit repetitive across 50 levels unless you learn the secret to success.

At the start of each level an egg will sparkle for a split second. In my experience it is always the egg in the bottom right of the screen. If you collect this egg last a small warp zone hole appears somewhere on the screen. If you go to the hole instead of the “Home” exit you are warped 3 levels ahead and get a bonus of 300,000 points. This drastically shortens the game and boosts your score.

The catch is, you need to be really good at the game to pull this off. If you die at any point during the stage you can not access the warp. So, you must play the level flawlessly in order to access the warp.

Music

The stage music is nothing special, but, the bonus stage/pineapple powerup music is some of my favorite music on the entire NES. The music isn’t good, it is just so outlandish that it literally makes me laugh each time I hear it.

Visuals

The graphics are fine, but I just feel sorry for how dated the game looks.

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Bloop, arrow, Yo!, spirals, exclamation points. What is this? The intro to Martin or Clarissa Explains it All?

 

Final Thoughts

Trog! is way more fun than it should be. It is kind of addicting. Even once you beat the game you want to play again and try to get a higher score. While nothing will ever compare to Pac-man I think Trog! is probably the best Pac-man clone I’ve played. It is definitely a hidden gem on the NES.

Side Notes

I started playing this game around the first of July. I’d give it one or two attempts every couple of days and typically get to a level in the 30’s or low 40’s. On July 14th I spent a bit of time playing Resident Evil VR after my wife went to sleep and then attempted Trog! again. No luck. The next morning at 8am my wife woke me up and said we needed to go to the hospital as she wasn’t feeling well. I quickly packed a bag and we headed across town. As it turns out, she wasn’t feeling well at all and we ended up staying 2 days in the hospital. But, we finally got to come home; she is feeling much better and we now have our first child. 🙂

Needless to say I haven’t had much time to play games these past couple of weeks (and probably for the foreseeable future). But, I was able to sneak in 15-20 minutes today which was enough to finally beat Trog!

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