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Trog (NES) artwork

Trog (NES) review


"Trog has been unfairly admonished as being a Pac-Man rip-off. Someone please explain how a game with a slew of power-ups, more enemy attack behaviors, three unique bonus games, and more intricate level design can constitute being a "rip-off." Sure, the main idea is the same - in this case you play as a dino (Pac-Man) as you navigate through single screen mazes while robbing eggs (pellets) from one-eyed cavemen named Trogs (ghosts), who would like nothing more than a nice, juicy d..."



Trog has been unfairly admonished as being a Pac-Man rip-off. Someone please explain how a game with a slew of power-ups, more enemy attack behaviors, three unique bonus games, and more intricate level design can constitute being a "rip-off." Sure, the main idea is the same - in this case you play as a dino (Pac-Man) as you navigate through single screen mazes while robbing eggs (pellets) from one-eyed cavemen named Trogs (ghosts), who would like nothing more than a nice, juicy dino burger - but Trog takes what made Pac-Man legendary and expands upon it.

One or two players can simultaneously romp through single screen mazes filled with decorations such as bones, pyramid-shaped teleportation devices, various stone-carved statues, and even trampolines. Stages range from traditional grassy plains, lush tropical islands, lava infested islands, and even icy ponds. The objective is simple - Steal all the eggs that correspond to your dino's color while avoiding barbaric Trogs.

Fortunately, you have the power to fight back. Munching on a juicy pineapple turns your dino into a big, mean, Trog eating t-rex, who gobbles up Trogs like chicken nuggets for bonus points. Nabbing a hot tamale on the go grants the ability to hurl fireballs which roasts pursuing neanderthals into pitch-black ash. To cool off after snacking on such a hot treat, grab an ice cube which also temporarily freezes Trogs. If none of these stone age snacks are available, no problem. Your dino has the ability to punch those pre-historic fiends ala Oscar De La Hoya. Three right-hooks send those cavemen careening clear off the level. These Trogs take as much abuse as the Geico Cavemen. If the dinos have one weakness, its that once a direction is pressed, they wander in that direction automatically until you hit a different direction. Until you get used to this, you’ll fall into the drink a few times and will have slight troubles navigating the mazes.

You shouldn't count your eggs before they hatch, as the cavemen gradually become more cunning and dangerous as the game progresses. The game starts innocently enough. Trogs waltz right into your punches, fall off the edge of the level and into the water, get stuck in tar pits, and even run into their own camp fires. However, you'll soon meet fiends who will hurl large, wooden wheels in an attempt to turn you into dino flavored mashed potatoes, Trogs equipped with spring shoes who can nab enough air to make Kain jealous and who can squash you like a bug, and barbarians armed with deadly clubs who run at speeds to put an NFL wide receiver to shame. To compound the aforementioned problem, there are speed-down mushrooms that occasionally impede your progress.

Fortunately, when the action gets too tense for too long, the game grants you one of three bonus stages: one allows you to stay in t-rex form for a few seconds and feast on Trogs, another lets you collect shiny diamonds of various shapes and colors, and the final bonus stage allows you to roast cavemen to your heart's content. Following most bonus stages is a cut scene taking place in Trog's Cave. Here you'll witness a fiendish neanderthal dream up more dastardly plans to capture and feast on the dinos. Usually, these serve as a segue into the next set of stages, with the idea presented in Trog's Cave being the most prevalent theme.

After 50 levels, the egg robbing quest ends. There is really no ending besides the game praising your efforts in big, neon font. Considering this was originally an arcade game with an objective to score as many points as possible, this isn't really a letdown. Fortunately, the game sports three difficulty settings that allow the pre-historic plundering to continue.

At its core, Trog is similar to Pac-Man, a great game in its own right. However, Trog is a real blast from the past since it sports so many weapons, various obstacles, and even three fun-filled bonus games. The Stone Age was never this much fun.

Rating: 8/10

randxian's avatar
Community review by randxian (April 15, 2010)

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True posted April 15, 2010:

I have to say I loved this review, and your skills are definitely improving. You did a great job on this one all around and I loved the feel of it. You made reference to pac-man but didn't harp on it for too long, and rather explained why this may be a better choice.

The one thing I did want to point out though: To cool off after snacking on such a hot treat, grab an ice cube to cool off.

Probably an oversight, but that's really the only thing that stuck out to me.

Keep up the good work.
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pickhut posted April 16, 2010:

Someone else actually played Trog?! This is crazy.

Yeah, it's a good review. I liked how you went about going from one power-up to the next in the third paragraph without sounding forced.
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randxian posted April 16, 2010:

true - Thanks for pointing that out. That's the nice thing about others giving feedback - It's so hard to find your own mistakes.

pickhut - Yeah, this was one of my childhood favorites. It's too bad it's so obscure.
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zippdementia posted April 16, 2010:

Hey, this is great. As you know, my normal inclination with a really retro-review like this is to get bored because it has no relevance to me, but you come on strong with the Pac Man angle and by the end of the first paragraph I'm interested enough to know where you're going with that to keep reading.

This line:

"Trogs even walk right into your punches, fall off the edge of the level and into the water, get stuck in tar pits, and even run into their own camp fires."

Should have the two "evens" removed, or one of them I mean, to make it read better. Other than that, all I can say is keep on writing and working on general improvements that come with practicing in the medium. Nothing glaring stands out here, though.
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randxian posted April 16, 2010:

Well, if you only found that one error, then I know I did a great job. :P

Fixed the line in question. Thanks for catching that.
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espiga posted April 17, 2010:

One little thing that I caught was in the following line:

Stages range from traditional grassy planes

I suppose the word planes would work in a way, but I'm thinking the word you're actually looking for is plains. If I'm wrong in this assessment, then sorry! But that's the only thing that jumped out at me. Great review!
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zippdementia posted April 17, 2010:

Well, if you only found that one error, then I know I did a great job. :P

That's right. From now on, people, if I show up in your thread with a compliment, you know you're waaaaaay awesome :p
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randxian posted April 17, 2010:

Espiga - Whoops! Not sure how that happened. Nice catch.
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aschultz posted April 21, 2010:

Though I think, yes, you've established yourself at being able to write interesting reviews, I have to respectfully disagree with True...this review reads easily, is coherent, and has some funny moments. But they are at the expense of telling us about the game.

Someone please explain how a game with a slew of power-ups, more enemy attack behaviors, three unique bonus games, and more intricate level design can constitute being a "rip-off."

Here the review sort of lashes out, then admits--well, there's a point. Then it goes back and says, no, I'm right. That's too much back-and forth. I think it's more accurate to say that it's not fair to call Trog just another pac-man rip-off, as it does more than other games. Para 2 is good, but P3 sort of restates Pac-Man with some flowery bits--the same thing in spirit you wish to avoid in the introductory paragraph. I think there's also flowery stuff that feels like description, but to me, doesn't add anything. This may be a question of style, but when you mention De La Hoya and a right hook--when it's his LEFT hook--we get the sense you're just having fun stringing words together for the sake of it, and while it's not unpleasant, it's unnecessary.

I'm also confused about the apparent difficulty and falling in the drink--is water lethal? That's definitely different from Pac-Man. So is punching your opponents. And if, indeed, you have short-range attacks and they have long-range, then the game may be more Wizard of Wor. Perhaps you could put this as a thesis: maze games can't possibly be Pac-Man clones if they've got shooting!

You shouldn't count your eggs before they hatch,

Grr. Almost as grr as other reviews I read for this week using "aforementioned." This is partially forgiveable because dinosaurs have eggs, or maybe you eat eggs in this game, but in that case..."count your eggs before they're gobbled."

Fortunately, when the action gets too tense for too long, the game grants you one of three bonus stages:

Does it know this? Why not say "Every 4th stage is a bonus. They have variety--then there's a cut scene. It actually creates a story beyond Pacman courting Ms."

Also, on the subject of the game ending--does it have passwords? That's a big annoyance from the 8 bit area, not having passwords. And when an NES game ends, is it a shame? Or are you glad you didn't have to play endlessly? What do the difficulty levels do? More/faster monsters? It's good you mentioned the difficulty levels, but what do they do?

Trog is a real blast from the past since it sports so many weapons,

Don't you mean, it shows the past wasn't all simple maze chases? It shows that a few weapons can make Pac-Man even more fun? A "real" blast from the past might be pong--and besides, that's a bit of a buzz phrase. It seems Trog trumps Pac-Man a lot of ways, and a lot of maze-chases did.

I think this review tackles entertaining bits quickly, but it seems to be having too much fun feeling enthusiastic about itself. I'd like to see more of HOW this game is different from Pac-Man, e.g. the mazes, the variety of mazes, tunnels, if you go faster than ghosts. I've played a lot of pac-man style games and admit that they can be tricky to say anything new about. You have some rallies here, but I think it needs sorting out. I get the sense you're still trying what works well, and there are flashes of neat things in here, but it doesn't quite work out.

P.S. thanks for being your usual good sport self on the forums. It's tough to be 4th out of 4, but someone has to be it...
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randxian posted April 21, 2010:

aschultz - Thanks for taking time to leave detailed feedback. I have to agree that the review's weakness is lack of in-depth information. Also, perhaps it does sound like it is lashing out at times.

However, there are people who dismiss this as a Pac-Man ripoff. I felt like I had to respond to that somehow.

Thanks for pointing out the De La Hoya inconsistency bit. I should have researched that a bit better so the reference makes more sense in context.

One comment confuses me, however:

Fortunately, when the action gets too tense for too long, the game grants you one of three bonus stages:

Does it know this? Why not say "Every 4th stage is a bonus. They have variety--then there's a cut scene. It actually creates a story beyond Pacman courting Ms."


I'm not sure what you mean when you ask "Does it know this?"

Also, the "blast from the past" bit is supposed to be a pun on the fact the game takes place during the Stone Age. Apparently, I should have done a better job presenting that little barb.

Anyway, I'll be sure to implement your suggestions in future reviews.
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aschultz posted April 21, 2010:

Glad I could help, and thanks again for feedbacking my feedback!

I think "when the action gets too tense for too long..." is something where I know what you basically mean, but it doesn't seem precise. The bonus levels are a nice break from the increasing difficulty. But I've found that if the action is too tense for too long, you generally get killed. Also, if the action is too tense for too long, that already detracts from the game, by definition--the breaks come too late.

This may be micromanaging, but if you want to channel a bit of your disappointment at hearing "just another pac-man clone" you could say "Every fourth level is a bonus level where ..., and you get points for clearing everything. This doesn't make it a clone of Galaga, or Mario Bros., or XXX. It's original because..."

The way you state it makes it seem like the program knows that the user needs a break. I may be reading into it. But I think there are better ways to say it.

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