Berzerk

Name:
Berzerk
Company: Atari
Model #:
CX-5221
Programmer:
GCC
Year: 1983
Released?
Yes
Notes:
First 5200 game to be voice enhanced

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.

 

 

For those not familiar with the arcade classic, let me fill you in on what you've been missing.  Berzerk is shooting game in which the player (simply known as "The Player") must navigate his way through a series of endless mazes of deadly walls, dodging laser shooting robots while avoiding a deadly bouncing smiley face known only as "Evil Otto".  However it wouldn't be much of a game if you couldn't fight back, thankfully you're armed with a laser pistol capable of blowing those evil robots to kingdom come.  Of course when it's ten against one, sometimes the best strategy is to run.

 

Unlike the 2600 version, the 5200 version of Berzerk was able to preserve most of the key phrases from the arcade machine (although the "Coin detected in pocket" line was left out for obvious reasons).  The 5200 voice can best be described as 'cold and metallic', which makes it perfect for the voice of a robot.  This simple voice adds alot to an otherwise mindless game, and makes the 5200 version the version of choice amongst classic game players.  Just hearing Otto taunting the player to "Fight like a robot" makes running away from hordes of laser wielding robots worth it.  Of course if the voice becomes tiresome, it can be turned off from the title screen by pressing the '9' key.

 

Of course voice or not voice, Berzerk quickly becomes tiresome as there is no real objective in the game.  The player simply runs from room to room destroying wave after wave of faster and faster robots.  Still Berzerk is good for a quick robot shooting fix, and it's interesting to see the type of game that eventually led to 3-D shooters such as 3-D Wolfenstein and Doom.  An Atari 400/800 prototype exists and is by all respects identical to the 5200 version, however it was never released.  It is unknown why the 400/800 version was never released, but Atari may have been trying to give the 5200 some "arcade exclusives" to make it more desirable to game players.

 

Version Cart Text Description
6/01/83 Berzerk 152-06 Missing Voice
7/31/83 Berzerk 212-08 No copyright on title screen

 

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