Review: Berzerk (Atari 5200)

By Drew Wilson

Berzerk is a game known for being one of the first games to utilize speech synthesis. We check out the last port of this top down shooter game – the Atari 5200 port.

This particular port was released in 1983 and would utilize the same things that made the previous ports of this game successful.

There really isn’t much storyline to be had for this game when you are actually just playing the game. You are a single human player running around a maze with electrified walls and robots, with the exception of the yellow ones, who can fire back at you. You essentially keep playing until you run out of lives (you start out with 3 of them). linger in a room for too long and an invulnerable bouncing happy face named Evil Otto will attack you.

I’m not entirely sure if the objective is to make it through as many levels as possible or destroy as many robots a possible. Destroying the robots will increase your score, but you progress through the game faster by escaping the rooms sooner. I’m guessing it depends on your objective of this game. If you destroy all of the enemies, the voice will say “The humanoid must not escape!”. If you escape a room with robots still in it, the voice will say, “Chicken! Fight like a robot!”. If you died and you defeated the robots in the previous room, the voice will say, “Got the humanoid! Got the intruder!” If you died and, in the previous room, you left with robots still alive, the voice will say, “Got the humanoid! Got the chicken!”. It seems to randomly choose different pitches when saying this. Still, interesting feature of this game.

In any event, destroying the robots will earn you points. It doesn’t matter if you shoot them, they run into the walls, they shoot each other, or they run into the electrified wall. In any way that you destroy them, you earn the same amount of points. Clear the whole room and you’ll get a bonus depending on how many robots were in the room.

Personally, I kind of liked the simple, yet, varied levels. There was always a variety of different levels I ended up coming across. It was rare that I entered a room that was the same or repetitive.

I also liked the fact that enemies could damage each other. There have been numerous games where enemies could only be harmed by damage you inflict. In this game, it seems more realistic that it is possible that enemies could accidentally damage or kill each other. So, that was always a plus in my books.

It’s also enjoyable how you could employ certain strategies knowing that it is possible to dodge enemy fire. In some levels, there are a massive number of robots that can end up firing at you, so having a chance to avoid enemy fire is great – although the closer you are to enemies, the harder it is to avoid this enemy fire.

Graphically, this game had almost nothing going for it. It had a psychedelic vibe to it in some elements throughout the game, but there was really nothing else going for this game in this area. The characters were identifiable (well, I had to look up the name of Evil Otto to know what the heck that was), but crudely drawn. I can’t help but wonder if more modern graphics were applied to a reboot of this series, what the game would be like then.

There was no music, but there was sound effects. The speech synthesized voice was an impressive feature for a game of it’s time. The other sound effects were quite decent as well.

Overall, once you get past the graphics element of this game, I think this game can be kind of fun. I found myself playing a few rounds of this before I had to stop and write a review. A good game all around.


Furthest point in game: Got to the second round of green robots before getting zapped for the last time.

General gameplay: 18/25
Replay value: 8/10
Graphics: 1/10
Audio: 4/5

Overall rating: 62%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85

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