Atari 2600

Review by Rob "Dire 51"



Graphics: 9

Sound: 6

Gameplay: 8

Overall: 7

"Chicken! Fight like a robot!"

That, unfortunately, is one thing you will NOT hear in the VCS version of the arcade great Berzerk. So if you're expecting to hear those classic taunts when you fire up the VCS game, I'm sorry to disappoint you. If, however, you're looking to get your hands on a damn near perfect port of the 1980 Stern arcade hit, voices or no, then go no further. You've found it.

The basics of Berzerk are simple. The guy on the screen? That's you. You move him with the joystick, and use the fire button to shoot. You can aim the shots in any direction with the joystick. The cyclopean robots scattered all over the screen are your mortal enemies. You must shoot them before they shoot you. You must escape the room you're in by going out one of the two exits located in the walls. DO NOT touch the walls - they're electrified and will kill you with one touch. Don't take too long escaping, though... the master of the robots, Evil Otto, will appear and chase you down if you dawdle. The fewer robots left on the screen, the faster he goes, and if that wasn't bad enough, guess what? He can't be killed. On top of that, he'll bounce through obstacles like they're nothing, even his own robots (destroying them in the process).

This being a VCS game, though, there are numerous variations that you can select from. Among them are the options to have non-shooting robots and a "rebound" version of Otto - if you shoot him, he'll disappear for a few seconds, then reappear in the spot that he started from. Variation 12 is a children's version, which is the easiest one in the game - the robots don't shoot, Otto never appears, and you get a new life every 1000 points.

The robots, while decent shots, are pretty... well, stupid sometimes. They'll blast each other to get to you, and they will blindly walk into walls, which destroys them. They also don't know enough to get out of Otto's way. They get a lot faster the further you get in the game, so be alert. The best way to describe them when they reach that point is - remember the Japanese kamikaze pilots in World War II? The ones that would crash their planes, loaded with bombs, into American ships? The high-level robots definitely have a kamikaze quality to them.

Even though the robots get faster, you unfortunately don't. This has always been my biggest gripe about Berzerk. Your man doesn't exactly run fast to begin with, and facing the kamikaze robots on the higher levels while you're running at the same slow speed can get really annoying.

That aside, Berzerk is definitely one of the best arcade ports for the VCS. However, if you simply have to have the voices, then take heart - a version of Berzerk that features the voices from the arcade, entitled Berzerk Voice Enhanced, was created by Mike Mika and released for the VCS in 2002. He also reworked the game so it more closely resembles the original arcade game. Sound interesting? Check it out here.


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Last updated: Saturday, September 25, 2004 09:09 AM