Robotron: 2084 is the greatest golden age arcade game ever made — not Donkey Kong — and arguably the hardest. Eugene Jarvis’ post-apocalyptic phantasmagoria of neon bullets will back down even the most seasoned player, the procedurally generated waves and hard-line focus on twitch reactions stamping out anyone who isn’t up to the task.
While the later waves can seem like an unreachable goal on one quarter, considering how few lives you start with and how the difficulty curve mirrors K2’s incline, there is an invaluable exploit that allows the player to easily obtain extra lives: the Mikey trick.
In the world of Robotron: 2084 there are three humans (Daddy, Mommy, and Mikey) that you can save for extra points. Accrue enough and you’ll be granted an extra life. This is harder than it sounds. The entire time you’re attempting to save the humans, robotic horrors are ruthlessly chasing you. The Mikey trick is an in-game glitch that allows you to outrun all the enemies and grab every human with relative leisure, and it works as follows:
Starting at Wave 5, every 20 waves is both a “Brain wave” and a “Mikey wave.” A “Brain wave” is a specific level that predominantly features a slew of the Brain enemy. A “Mikey wave” means that there is only one small, red-shirted human, Mikey, in the wave. Due to a programming error, the Brains will target a specific human (and in the case of these waves, Mikey) upon the start of each wave before converting the rest into mindless progs. This Brain glitch can be used to your advantage every fifth wave if you can locate and protect the first human targeted for termination with mixed success, but the Mikey trick further builds upon this concept, bringing forth the programming hierarchy of what the brain’s preferred target is and allowing you to abuse who they focus on first.
The humans in a “Mikey wave” are composed of a large number of Mommies and a single Mikey. The brain’s targeting hierarchy will target the lone Mikey 95% of the time while ignoring the rest of the wandering Mommies, allowing the player to mow down the mindless Brains until there’s only one regular, less threatening enemy left while they collect all the humans and wrack up extra lives, allowing a degree of relief on more difficult waves to come.
Robotron: 2084 is remembered as much for its difficulty as it is for its innovation, and while the Mikey trick won’t turn the game into a cake walk, it can certainly provide some much-needed cushioning. If you’re more of a visual learner, check out the video below that showcases the Mikey wave in action.