Erin’s Extreme Avatar Guide: Extreme Herder
Extreme Herder is one of the more notoriously difficult game avatars, which is understandable, considering the avatar score is a colossal 250 points. Before getting this avatar, I rarely broke a score of 200, and whenever I did, I felt pretty accomplished. This game requires a lot of skill, strategy, and quick reflexes. And, let’s be frank: it also requires a little bit of luck as well.
The basics are pretty simple: race around using your arrow keys to help Samrin the Kacheek save the petpets before a hungry lupe named Balthazar eats them! You can save petpets by grabbing them and placing them in the safety pen at the center of the screen.
Pick up the petpets by running toward them. You will automatically pick them up when you collide. Drop the petpets by pressing the spacebar. Remember this because it’s key to tricking Balthazar into not eating your petpets, which we will discuss in a later part of this article.
At the start of the game, you will have multiple doors into the pen on all four sides, and, in addition, you will have portals on all four sides of the screen that transport you to different sides of the level. All levels look the same: you view all the characters from above, the petpets are randomly placed throughout the level, and the safety pen is in the middle. But, as you work your way to level 11, you’ll notice that the portals on the sides of the screen disappear one at a time. Then, the entrances to the safety pen will start to disappear until you’re left with only one: the entrance on the left side, right next to where Balthazar enters the screen at the beginning of each level. At level 11, you’ll only have one entrance to the safety pen left.
One important quick tip for this game is to remember that Balthazar will always enter from the top left side of the screen. From the very beginning of the game, make sure you position your character near this area at the start of each level in case you start with any petpets close. Balthazar will target them immediately when he enters and you’ll lose lives quickly, even during the earlier levels. This is particularly annoying because those petpets will also happen to be closest to the only remaining entrance to the safety pen in the later levels, and they are easy extra points if you’re close enough.
Take Advantage of the Powerups as Much as Possible
You know that little snowflake that appears at random? It is key to getting through the first couple of levels after all your entrances to the safety pen are gone except the one on the left. Freeze powerups will (obviously) freeze Balthazar for a few seconds, allowing you to pick up petpets without him gobbling them up. Furthermore, when Balthazar is frozen, you can also cross right over him without losing a life! When you see a freeze powerup, go straight for it. It can mean a world of difference during these harder levels, especially when you are working on strategizing to keep Balthazar in certain areas during the game.
Once you get to the later levels, the freeze powerup will, unfortunately, stop appearing. However, you still get the speed powerup, which appears in the form of a small yellow orb at random. Be sure you practice playing with the speed powerup, considering you will move much faster and you run the risk of accidentally running into Balthazar or missing a petpet you’re trying to scoop up. Plus, it’s easier to adjust to only getting the speed powerup in the later levels by practicing early on.
Here’s the big tip: make sure Balthazar stays on the far left side of the screen. The second our favorite carnivorous lupe slowly meanders away from his vertical pacing on the left to target petpets on the top or bottom of the screen, you’re doomed. I know that sounds dramatic, but it’s true. Balthazar is typically pretty harmless if he stays on the left, and the best way to do this is to alternate between picking up petpets on the bottom and top of the screen to save.
For example, let’s say the level starts and Balthazar starts going for a petpet on the bottom left of your screen. First, grab the petpet from the bottom of the screen and deposit it in the safety pen. Balthazar will immediately turn away from you and head towards the next closest petpet in the opposite direction. Then, instead of going for the next petpet closest to you on the bottom of the screen (unless Balthazar is about to eat it and you’re at high risk of losing a life—this only happens in extremely rare occasions), go around the safety pen and grab a petpet from the top of the screen to rescue. This will confuse Balthazar into pacing back and forth between the top and bottom of the left side of the screen so he won’t venture out and snack on your petpets. Once I tried this method, my score rocketed from an average of 190 to 272.
Tricking Balthazar is a skill you’ll have to practice on your own; sometimes simply grabbing one petpet from the bottom, rescuing it, and then grabbing one from the top isn’t enough to make him reverse directions because of the configuration of your petpets during the level. If you grab a petpet and Balthazar doesn’t change his direction, drop that petpet using the spacebar and go for another. Keep grabbing petpets near you until he reverses his direction and goes back to the left side of the screen. This may get frustrating because you will lose lives practicing this method, but it does work when you figure out how to get hungry Balthazar to stay in on his side.
Stay Close to the Middle
We all know that the fastest way toward a single point is a straight line, so use this logic when you’re saving petpets. If Balthazar does happen to escape the left side of the screen and make it to the top, bottom, or even right side of the screen, stay as close as you can to the pen to maneuver because you’ll be able to grab petpets faster. I know it feels safer to stay toward the edges of the screen, but it will take you much longer to get to petpets and you’ll lose lives rapidly during the later levels. Stay close to the middle of the screen and save those little guys from a terrible demise!
I hope these tips help you on getting one of the harder game avatars out there. Good luck, and stay EXTREME!