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by Atari


Atari 2600

Review by


First off, before we get to the review, lets visit a chilling detail about this game, within the first few years of the game being out in arcades TWO Healthy people, one 18 years old, male, one 19, male, drug and alcohol free, collapsed and died of heart attacks, both immediately after entering their high scores in the arcade version of Berzerk. Does it make you want to avoid this game? Well you’d be missing out, Berzerk is a good game, and a more unique shooter style than the road of Space Invaders and Galaga.

Berzerk must be one of the first 3rd person top-down view human character games in the arcades, and a nice one. You control a human-like character; shooting other “robots” I believe the two guys who wrote the album “Pac-man Fever” which included other arcade game based music, one being Berzerk said it best: “I can move any direction once I start I’m never done…”

You CAN move any direction and once you START you’re never done.Even though limited to an 8-direction movement, it works out pretty well. Although on the Atari 2600 it seems harder to move correctly than the arcade probably would be, it doesn’t take too long to get used to the controls.

As for the robots, it’s interesting; they’ll run into the walls (which, by the way, will kill you) and make other mistakes such as walking into other robots, Genius, or bad programming? You decide, oh, and I believe you still get points when they die no matter which way.

Once the robots are all eliminated or if you want to leave the room, move into the next room (by which means, you ACTUALLY have to move your character) the next room will load up, repeat and continue. Don’t stay in one room too long, or “Evil Otto” will appear, is indestructible, and moves fast around… or as I’ve read, I’ve never stayed in a room that long for Evil Otto to appear.

Unfortunately there are downsides. The fact that sometimes you’ll appear in a room with two robots almost on top of you, and when you try to move you just run into them and die before you realize it. You do get lives easily, which counteracts that. Another downside is that you have to move a little in the direction you want to shoot in before you can shoot, which, in tight spaces, could cause you to run into a wall, and there goes a life. Once again, another downside, the robots seem to fire at very variable rates, first there’s 4 robots in the room, slow fire. Next room, 8 robots that fire almost twice as fast! It’s that randomness that retro gamers may smile or frown upon, for instance, Gamer A, “Oh yay I’ll always be surprised!” or Gamer B “oh **** this is not fair!” Considering you move really slow (even for a early 80s game) and your human character is somewhat big, it’s sometimes too late, or you don’t get a chance to get out of the way in time. It could also get repetitive, with the only variables in the game is the room and robot fire speed, which as neat in the 80s, isn’t too impressive today.

A cool thing is try playing it with the lights off, once again quoting “I can wonder through the maze it’s a wonderland at night” from that song, Berzerk’s mostly black background makes the robots, the human, and the walls brighter in the dark.

Conclusion: Berzerk may not have aged as well as Donkey Kong or Pac-man, but it’s still enjoyable from time to time, one thing I wish they had was the robotic voice saying “intruder alert” or “chicken! Fight like a robot!” that is in the arcade version; also everything is thicker than the arcade version which is an issue.


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