Company: Atari
Model #:
Dan Hitchens
Year: 1982
Berzerk was the first video game to cause a fatality.


Intruder Alert! Intruder Alert!  These were the familiar words that greeted players as they would wind their way through endless mazes, destroying killer robots and avoiding the ultimate bad guy "Evil Otto".  Berzerk was Stern's first arcade hit, and one of the first games to feature speech (this was pretty cool for 1980).  Berzerk also has the dubious distinction of being the first video game to cause a death.  In January 1981, Jeff Dailey, a 19-year old gamer, died of a massive heart attack right after playing frantic game of Berzerk  Even more alarming was that this incident only seemed to increase Berzerk's popularity.


While Berzerk was busy making a killing in the arcades (sorry, I couldn't resist), Atari quickly developed and released its own version for the Atari 2600.  Since Berzerk was a graphically simple game, almost none of the detail from the arcade game was left out of the 2600 version.  Berzerk's main strength was in the robot AI, which was famous for making "human mistakes" such as walking into walls and shooting each other.  On the higher levels this same AI would help the robots hunt down the player in a matter of seconds and made few (if any) mistakes.  Thankfully this amazing AI was reproduced fairly well on the 2600, making the game as much fun as its arcade counterpart.


If there are any flaws in the 2600 version, it's the lack of the computerized voice.  It is unknown why the voice was left out, but it was probably thought the 2600 was incapable of doing speech (Quadrun hadn't been programmed yet).  While this may sound like a small thing to lose, it was the voice that really made the arcade version special.  However in 2002 programmer Mike Mika proved that the arcade voice could be implemented in the 2600 of Berzerk with a little bit of magic (ie. major programming tricks).  Check out his special version of Berzerk called "Berzerk: Voice Enhanced" which is available over on

Berzerk still holds a special place in every gamer's heart as the game that taught them to stop being a chicken and to "Fight Like a Robot".


Version Cart Text Description
?????? Berzerk EPROM Cartridge Final Version


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