Classic Retro Video Game Reviews

Atari Berzerk -Atari 2600
Retro Gaming Review

Atari 2600 VCS console Classic Retro Gaming Video Game ReviewAtari Berzerk for Atari 2600 Classic Retro Gaming Video Game Review
Title: Berzerk
Manufacturer: Atari
Platform: Atari 2600
Release Date: 1982
Part #: CX2650
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
ESRB Rating: N/A

Rating: Atari Berzerk Classic Retro Video Game Review Rating
Atari Berzerk Screenshot:
Atari Berzerk for Atari 2600 screenshot Classic Retro Gaming Video Game Review

As far as bouncing smiley-faces go none are more menacing than Evil Otto the final foe in each level of Berzerk. If you survived the robots and decided to dawdle around, Evil Otto would come out to hasten your exit of the maze.This was an arcade favorite of mine even though it was too damn hard for me. I rarely cleared even a few levels. On the 2600 I could hone my fighting skills as a "chicken" and learn to "fight like a robot". It's a shame the voice prompts were not present on the 2600 version.

Although the Atari 2600 version was only single player, it's graphical replication of the arcade favorite was pretty good. Of course the lack of the familliar phrases "like, "The humanoid must not escape" were sorely missed, this was a damn good game. Like the arcade, the home version is still tough to beat. A robot always got a diagonal bead on me from the far corner of the maze and I was a sitting duck. The arcade controls for Berzerk lend nicely to the 2600 joystic as they are nearly identical.

Berzerk Story Arc

So, in the year 3200 on planet Mazeon, your exploration mission has gone awry and you're a prisoner in a maze of electrified walls that kill upon touch. If you blast all the robots (aka: Automazeons) you face their maker, Evil Otto. He can't be killed or stopped - your only choice is to outrun him. In the first level the robots won't shoot at you, but they get faster (both in movement and firepower) up to level 16. After that they slow down only to repeat the pattern.

The Automazeon robots are trained to follow you, so use that to make them walk into walls (dumb bots) and Evil Otto moves slower if there are robots present in the maze. Once you kill all the robots, Evil Otto moves at a kick-ass pace to destroy you. Similar to Pac-Man's ability to leave one side of the screen and appear on the opposite side, you can fire out the exit on one side of the screen and your laser will return on the opposite side as long as there is a matching exit.

Holy shit! Check this out...
Arcade Berzerk, named for Fred Saberhagen's Berserker series of science fiction novels, was released in 1980 by Stern Electronics of Chicago. Two different versions of the game were released. The world record high score for the Arcade version (fast bullets setting)
is 350,340 by Steve Wagner of the USA. The games were known for failure of the optical joystick which Stern replaced with leaf-switch designs by Wico. Berzerk was officially ported to the Atari 2600, Atari 5200, and Vectrex.

Difficulty Switches & Game Variations for Berzerk

The 12 game variations are selected with the Game Select switch, but the difficulty switches have no funtion. The 12 options include combos of when bonus lives are awarded (if at all), Evil Otto's invincibility and the ability to shoot at Evil Otto making him disappear for a few seconds. There's even a super-easy kids version in which there is no Evil Otto and none of the robots will shoot.

Most modern games with point systems seem to award you ten million points for "walking through a doorway". Back in the 1980s getting a few thousand points was a worthy feat! In the Atari 2600 version of Berzerk each robot kill is worth 50 points and clearing all the robots comes with a 10 point bonus

The manic feeling from trying to outrun Evil Otto (run diagonally) created a game that is simple in concept, but fun to play. I still play this on both the 2600 and 800.

I have a Berzerk cart for the Atari 800 that includes all the voiced phrases and 2-player options. My son and I are becoming expert robot killers on the Atari 800.

"Intruder Alert! Intruder Alert!"

Atari 2600 VCS console Classic Retro Gaming Video Game Review
Final Judgement:

Atari Berzerk

was a classic arcade favorite that works well despite the 2600's limitations. Still, it has several game variations that make it a good play. It lacks the voice synth of later versions, but all the arcade memories will flood inward as you fight like a robot!

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