I think Atari's Black Widow is a great classic arcade game but it's hard to find any good information about the enemies. I thought I would put together this little "guide" to help.
::: Here's the whole cast of characters in the game :::
You are the Spider. Own your web. Like in nature you are more visible to enemies in the open middle of the web versus the outside edges where Spiders usually hunt from. You move at a slow speed at first, but like the rest of the bugs you move faster as the game goes on. You get a real burst of speed from Wave 44 onwards and you'll need it!
Hi there. I am an annoying little Mosquito. I jitter around fast and am hard to shoot sometimes. If I see you in the inner web I might accelerate randomly just for fun and come after you. I like to cluster up with my Mosquito pals. Sometimes Grenade Bugs chase us around. I love running around the edge of the web at the end of levels. I am worth no points but when you shoot me I turn into a Grubsteak ($) worth 500-25 points depending on how soon you hit it before it fades away.
Hello I am Beetle. I plow ahead somewhat predictably and usually come right for the Spider or any Grubsteaks($) I see. I love to steal $ from you Spiders. You might want to kill me off fast as you can to save those $ points, but I can be helpful in cleaning up too many Grubsteaks that might turn into nasty Hornet eggsies. You get no points from shooting me as well...only from my leftover Grubsteak($).
Oi! I'm a nasty Hornet. I like to fly around fast and unpredictably. I'll speed up just for fun if you are dumb enough to try to hang out in the middle area of the web. Like my Mosquito friends I love to run out to the edges of the web and hold up the end of waves while you eat Rocket Bug death. Sometimes I like to cluster with my pals too. What I really love is laying eggs! Lots and Lots of em. When I run over a Grubsteak($) I can turn it into an egg. Sometimes I feel like laying a new Hornet egg (yellow), but usually I'll lay a Spoiler egg (Pinkish). No points for shooting me either, just from my leftover Grubsteaks (see below).
When the smaller bugs are killed they become a Grubsteak ($). They slowly fade away so grab em quick for 500 points down to 50/25 points right before they vanish (Mosquito, Beetle, Hornet). These also reflect your shots which can be a good and bad thing sometimes.
I'm just a lil' baby Hornet egg. I hatch pretty fast so when you see my lil' wings flap for the first time you better watch out!. You can let me hatch or push me off the web or into the center for 500-2500 points (500 for first one, 1000 for second and so on per wave then it resets the next wave). I reflect Spider shots too.
I'm a nasty Spoiler egg and I take longer to hatch than a Hornet egg. I'm the same as a Hornet egg before I hatch. Push me off the edge or into the middle for 500-2500 points. I also reflect Spider shots.
This is what I look like right before I hatch. Like the Hornet eggs my wings twitching for the first time make clear I am about to hatch.
This is what I look like all hatched and ready to go as a mature Spoiler Bug. I come right for the Spider but you can hold me off with a steady blast of fire. If you keep me in one spot sometimes a Grenade Bug flys right over to me. Fire at me a bunch and I get frustrated and run off the web on my own. You can even push me off the web with your shots if you are really good but you get no points for that trick. I destroy both green and red playfield walls when I touch them too. I am invulnerable to all but Grenade Bug blasts and hungry Rocket Bugs. If the Hornets get busy and lay a bunch of us, we keep other enemies from coming out. This is a big problem in later waves when a Rocket Bug or few are roaming and you want to end the wave but cannot because we are keeping the last bugs from spawning. We spoil all the fun don't we?
I am the Grenade Bug. You love and hate me don't you? When hit I make a large explosion that is always the same size so know where that edge is or else. Hit me next to another Grenade Bug and let the chain reaction fun begin! You even get 500 points for shooting me. Any and all bugs in my blast radius get nuked and you earn 500 points for each. Same goes for any Grubsteaks in the blast. I even kill Spoilers, Rocket and Rockette bugs too (500 points each too?). You need me to get points off the other bugs and to help clear the wave off fast, especially all those nasty eggsies. Otherwise you are at the mercy of the Rocket bugs and their evil spawn waiting for my semi random appearances. There are usually 1-2 grenade bugs in the first wave of a 4 wave cycle, then 2-4, then 4-8 just before the Thunder Bug wave (4th).
Howdy I'm the Rocket Bug and I am here to make you miserable. My job is to fly around aimlessly at first hunting down other bugs and Grubsteaks($) on the web. When I get my hands on one of em' I eat them up and fire out my evil little Rockette Bug babies at the Spider. My "children" and I make Robotron 2084 Spheroids/Quarks look calm, tame and easy to deal with. Make me mad by shooting at me and I will accelerate and go after the bugs much faster. Maybe this is a good thing sometimes to clear a wave? You cannot shoot me down head on. But, you can destroy me for 500 points in a Grenade Bug blast if you dare. If you are really good wait until I turn yellow at the end of a wave and shoot me for 1000 points (usually works from behind or the side).
Hi there! I'm the small but powerful Rockette Bug. Rocket Bugs shoot me out at the Spider when they eat up other bugs or Grubsteaks($). Pay attention to the angle between the object being consumed by my Rocket Bug parent and your Spider because you can bet at least one hot lil' Rockette is coming that way soon! (one per lesser bug but multiple when Grenade bugs are consumed). Sometimes I just fire out randomly just for fun too! If you can hit me its 1000 points not 100 as most online guides claim. So maybe its not so bad leaving lots of $ around the screen to turn into 1000 point enemies or to get nuked for 500 points each in a Grenade Bug blast zone? As if I were not hard enough to deal with head on, as the game goes on Rocket Bug shots gain a gradual curve/arc to them. By wave 50 you have to face head on shots and wild curving blasts that come in semi circle arcs at you. Good luck with that! Or maybe find a good spot at the top middle and bottom that reduces this problem?
Hola! I am a Thunder Bug. We travel in packs of 11 on each 4th wave of the game. You won't see us on any other waves, just our own little "challenging stage". We get faster and faster as you progress through a 1 credit game. But if you restart and warp to higher levels the speed drops back down and then builds up again. If you shoot us at any angle other than head on we tend to split up and go wild all over the screen. That clever FGS guy figured out that if you wait for us to move towards our predictable circling dance you can easily nail us all just as we come into and out of it. This keeps us together much better. We take two shots to kill (changes color after first). You get 250 points for each of us up through the first 10 (2500 points) and the final one gets you the 5000 point bonus (7500 points total). If you dodge us the whole wave you get 10,000 points. We hear that Jerky guy is keeping his "secret" technique for this under wraps when he needs the points to beat that crafty FGS guy, but its not really worth the risk versus reward in the long run (2500 points extra to dodge versus shooting us all for the big bonus/getting some points, or risk dying for the 10k bonus and get nothing).
Zzzz. I'm a slow lame Bug Slayer. The Atari programmers thought I was a good idea for the first few waves, but by Wave 21 you won't see me again. You cannot kill me by shooting. I wander around and eat other bugs. You can see them flicker before I go for them but this stops after Wave 21. I can be killed by Grenade Bugs and at the end of waves like Rocket Bugs (turn yellow and then can be shot). I don't kill you either when you run into me, I really don't know what the point of my existence is. Most people who start the game at Wave 21 never even see me.
::: About the Bugs :::
The number of enemy bugs goes up from around a dozen to 30 per wave by Wave 60+ in a steady progression. There cannot be any more than about 11 bugs on the screen with the Spider at one time (your own shots factor into this as do the number of Rockette bugs and maybe you can take advantage of this). As the max number of on screen enemies decreases other bugs then spawn out one after another. You can always expect more bugs to appear when you are killing them off below the dozen or so limit up until the total number have come out for that wave. Maybe with some code digging I can find all the numbers per wave and list them out like the Robotron aces have at some later date. Trying to count them using pause is just stupid hard.
This is why it sucks to have a screen covered in eggs that hatch into Spoiler Bugs that hold up the spawning of other bugs while you have to fight off Rocket Bug(s) with no Grenade Bug help. The end of the wave sometimes gets held up this way when you only have a bug or two left to kill off. You have to deal with 1-8+ grenade bugs per wave over the 4 wave cycle (but just waves 1-3). 1-2, 2-4,then 4-8+ on the third of the cycle. As you progress through the game the wave cycle has from 1-4 Rocket Bugs mucking up the works as well per wave.
The bugs all spawn from predictable points on the web. There are "safe spots" at least from initial spawns. This is key.
In my next posts when I get more time I will try to lay out all the waves with pics and point out the "safe spots" and "spawn zones" plus how the red and green walls help channel bugs to you while protecting you at the same time. You can get a good idea of where the "safe spots" are by watching myself, FGS and others gamers play at the links below.
When we are parked on top of one of the spawning areas or close enough to it no bugs come out on top of us until we move far enough away. Bugs seems to pre-calculate their spawning point based on the Spiders position relative to the spawn points. Distance is key a factor and you can see how we stay in a small area to take advantage of this "zone defense/offense" method on the edge or anywhere else on the web.
You can also sort of predict and expect when and where a bug will spawn, but if its a Grenade Bug and you are "pre-shooting" at spawn points as defense then its good night fast! I am not 100% certain but the bugs seem to react/be drawn to your shots to some degree. This is why I sometimes fire straight up to the center to drawn the bugs in.