|First 5200 game to be voice
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
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.
||No copyright on title screen
to 5200 Software