|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 AtariAge.com.
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
||Berzerk EPROM Cartridge
to 2600 Software