Chicken, fight like a robot!
This is the line that is spoken from one of my favorite Atari 5200 games of all time. When I first loaded this game up, I was quite sure that the title read Berzerio
due to the way the logo was created. This game was popular back in the day, it warranted a released on Atari's earlier 8-bit consoles, as well as the Vectrex. Out of these, I think the Atari 5200 version of Berzerk
is the best one.
This game is standard shooter fanfare. You are in an endless maze, basically made up of rooms inhabited only by robots. You are equipped with a laser gun, which you use to shoot as many of them as you can. Take too long in a screen and Evil Otto will appear. If he comes in contact with you, you are electrocuted and lose a life.Berzerk
can be a difficult game. The further you proceed into the game, the more aggressive the robots become – with most of them shooting bullets that are harder to dodge. In this situation, you have to be careful what direction you are heading. Also, the game can be more frantic at times that you may crash into the electrified walls by accident. You can easily miss a robot, and when they fire at you, it may be too late for you to dodge their bullets.
The Atari 5200 does a great job at mimicking the graphics of the original arcade game. Both your character and the robots are animated nicely as they walk along. There are lights on every robot that rotate as long as they are alive. The system even mimics the stupidity of the robots. I found it very helpful watching them collide with each other, collide with the walls, or shoot each other. You score points for doing nothing, basically.
What I enjoyed in the game was the speech synthesis the 5200's POKEY chip is capable of. There are certain events that trigger it, such as waiting in a room long enough for Evil Otto to appear.
The robots sound exactly like robots, and their vocabulary ranges from “chicken” to “humanoid” to “intruder”. What word they use will depend on whether you were able to kill all robots before proceeding to the next room. They sound a lot meaner than in the arcade version, and they can use a different pitch for each word.
The controls are easy to master. You just push the joystick to go into a certain direction. The only downside is that in order to shoot, you have to face the direction you want to shoot.
Regarding the speech synthesis, you won't hear anything like “Charge it”, “Attack the Humanoid”, or “Get the Chicken” while you are walking in a room, like what happens in the arcade version. It would have added to the atmosphere. Also, the graphics should have been a lot clearer. The walls should have looked like electrified barriers, for instance.
The Bottom Line
In conclusion, Berzerk
is a great game of the 1980s, where the object is to go around a maze, shooting robots as you go. This gets difficult later on, as robots soon are able to fire at you. To ease the pain, some robots attack each other, ultimately leading to you scoring points for doing nothing. Although all versions of the game aren't bad, the Atari 5200 comes out on top for its speech synthesis, and you trigger it by doing certain actions such as getting yourself killed or leaving one of the room. There is no real ending to this game. It is basically a “score attack” game, where you can score as many points as you can without losing all your lives.