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Berzerk

Berzerk

Developer GCE
Publisher GCE
Release Date 1982
Genres Maze
Shooter
Modes Single player
1-2 players alternating
Media Cartridge
ROM file

Origins/gameplayEdit

Berzerk was a unique game at the time when it was released in the arcade for several reasons; for one thing, being a maze game, it had 64,000 mazes, which was a gigantic number for any game of any gaming genre back then. It was also one of the first games that had speech synthesis as well (costing [US] $1,000 a word), which involved sassing the player when they didn't destroy all the robots in a maze, saying "chicken! Fight like a robot!", among several other brief phrases.

The A. I. for the game was also a bit unique as well, as the enemy robots were stupid, shooting and running into each other or walls, which would result in them being destroyed. The player would also earn points for every robot destroyed, no matter if they or the robots caused their [own] destruction.

If the player took too long to escape from a level, the indestructible Evil Otto nemesis would appear from wherever the player had originated from in a maze and bounce his way across the screen, through walls and robots alike. The fewer robots that remained, the faster Otto would travel.

Also, the indication of a difficulty level increase would be apparent with the robots changing color. They would also fire faster and with more shots as well as the player progressed through the levels.

The game involved the player(s) running their way through a series of mazes while destroying as many robots as possible; destroying all robots in a maze would result in a bonus. Touching any robot, explosion from destroyed robot or wall segment or being shot would cause them to lose a life, and once the player ran out of lives the game would end.

ControlsEdit

Main menuEdit

  • Choose from one or two players--button one
  • Start game--button four

In-game controlsEdit

  • Move--joystick or D-pad
  • Fire--any button

ScoringEdit

  • Shoot robot--50 points
  • Bonus--10 points per robot
  • Extra life--5,000 points

Differences between versionsEdit

Obviously there is going to be a difference in graphics, due to the majority of the Vectrex version being in vector (the original was in raster) and the robots look like octopuses, plus there is no visible change indicating the robots' difficulty level has increased since the Vectrex doesn't have color. The difficulty level in this port also isn't as high, due to the robots not being as aggressive as on the arcade original, the player can shoot several more shots at a time and the players' and robots' shots do not cancel each other out (although arguably this could make the game more difficult, depending on a person's opinion).

Evil Otto also makes a bouncing noise as he travels, which was not included in the original, plus the player's shots will now pass through him; originally he could be shot (although not killed).

There is also no voice synthesis in this version, there are fewer mazes, an extra life is awarded at 5,000 points, which on the original it was 7,000 (although that could be changed depending on the arcade operator's choosing), and robots can, at times, either partially walk through a wall segment until they get destroyed, or can totally pass through them unharmed.

The Atari 2600 version of the game had much larger sprites, and proportionally all onscreen objects took up more screen area. The robots did not fire diagonally and there was no voice synthesis (although a homebrew hack entitled Berzerk Enhanced added that feature years later). There were also several variations for players to choose from, including how often they could earn extra lives, robots that don't shoot, no Evil Otto, or a shootable Evil Otto. The game was for one player only.

The Atari 5200 version had 11 selectable skill levels to start a game with and included speech, as well as the ability to silence it.

TriviaEdit

  • Berzerk was followed by the less successful sequel of Frenzy, which was ported to the ColecoVision.
  • Berzerk was also ported to the Atari 2600 and 5200 and was planned to be released for the Atari home computer line, but ended up never seeing a release date.
  • This port had a few bugs, one of which caused a glitch with the score, where it would be replaced by a dash and a graphic that looks like a car; when the game ended, the player would find a very high score (usually in the 100,000 range) that they did not achieve. Also, at times the player would either not be awarded a bonus for shooting all robots in a maze and/or the text stating the bonus would not appear.
  • A Berzerk Debugged hack was released with bug fixes, along with Verzerk, which incorporated speech into the game if the player had a VecVoice.

Links/reviewsEdit

ReviewEdit

Berzerk was really unique in the arcades by being one of the earliest talking games, by the robots being total morons by causing their own destruction, and for the player getting points for the robots getting destroyed, whether the player shot them or not.

This version, however, ran kind of slow, probably due to drawing a lot of vectors at once, along with it not seeming totally like Berzerk for the lack of color. Yes, the Vectrex can't help this, but that's a bit of a major thing for this game, since that indicates that the robots have increased in difficulty when their color changes.

Also, there's collision detection problems with robots passing halfway through walls (usually deadly) before finally being destroyed, Evil Otto makes a dumb bouncing noise when he travels (which that addition wasn't necessary), and the game's too easy, as I can get over 12,000 on it, which I never could break 10,000 on the original. The Atari 2600 version of this game was better, even though the mazes were too big and the robots didn't fire diagonally, but it had several variations to it though.

I've seen other people say this was a good port, but I don't agree; have they even PLAYED the original in the last 20 years? I have -- at gaming expos -- and I didn't like this game that much back in the day either.

Just makes me wonder what Berzerk II was going to be for this system: hopefully an improved version of this one?

5/10 (Review by Darrylb500)

vectrex.nlEdit

Originally Berzerk was produced by Alan McNeil and manufactured by Stern Electronics. It started off as a black & white game, but as arcade machines around it became colour , Berzerk followed suit. Inspiration for the game came from Fred Saberhagens "Berzerke' series of Science Fiction novels. (Xtarelex 1984) Berzerk went on to be Stern's biggest arcade hit selling more than 50,000 arcade units.

Arcade Berzerk was one of the earlier games designed to incorporate speech synthesis. At the time it cost around $1000.U.S. per word for speech to be incorporated into a game so few words were used. The Vectrex version doesn't have speech, though Vec Voice may be used with 'Verzerk', and the standared Vec game states 'got you humanoid' when the player gets obliterated using Vec Voice. Interestingly enough in 1981 an 18 year old youth died of a heart attack while playing Berzerk and the coroner didn't rule out prolonged stress from videogames as a key factor to his death.

Berzerk was the first videogame in which a human controlled player actually died, as the aim of the game is to destroy all enemy robots or make them run into the electrified walls or else get killed. A maze surrounds the player who has the full 8 directions of the Vectrex control panel joystick to permanently neutralize the robots who have low intelligence and sometimes end up shooting their fellow robots instead of you.

However, the player needs to have his/her wits about them as a bouncing ball with a smiling face called 'Evil Otto' enters the playfield if the player dwells too long on a particular screen. This was designed to stop players hanging around on certain screens so as to keep the game moving along. There are 64,000 possible maze structures and in each 0-11 enemy robots are placed randomly in a room when you enter.

The Vectrex version of Berzerk is slow moving and becomes repetitive after a while. Maybe good for a quick spurt but lacks any depth though the sound effects are good and chunky and arcade like.

Score 5.5/10

Review written by Daniel Foot