Berzerk (Atari 5200) review
"Chicken! Fight like a robot!"
Berzerk while maybe not quite the phenomenon as Space Invaders or Pac-Man was still one of the most beloved arcade games released in the early 80's golden era of arcade gaming. It was one of the first to feature voice and was also responsible for causing some of the first deaths when people exhausted themselves one high score binges so to say that this was a successful game would be an understatement.
Atari succeeded in porting one of the biggest arcade hits of early 80's for their Atari 2600 and Atari 5200 consoles. The Atari 5200 version retained the voice samples of the arcade and because of that remained very faithful and plays very close to the original.
The premise of Berzerk is a rather simple one. You play as a humanoid and have to run through endless mazes with exits one each side all the while blasting robots, dodging their gun fire, all the while trying to escape the maze before Evil Otto, a smiley face that will bounce through walls and kill the robots, appears and hunts you down. As you play the robots get faster and more accurate and Evil Otto appears in less time and moves faster. Berzerk is a fast paced game despite its rather simple nature and few games will last more than a few minutes time unless you're really good and can really run the score up.
The voice samples, while not as many or as varied as the arcade, are far better sounding on the Atari 5200. Hearing the menacing robotic voice say things like "the humanoid must not escape" and "intruder alert, intruder alert" sound more than a bit menacing and really heighten the sense of tension.
Berzerk was a game that I played on the Atari 2600 first and thought it was just OK and the Atari 5200 version even took me some time to warm up to but then I was hooked and found myself playing it for several hours one night so there is a lot of fun to be had here. If I had to complain about anything it's that the game just needs some more variety and color and could've benefited from some improved graphics.
It's nice to see Berzerk play so well on the Atari 5200. I would recommend using a Competition Pro joystick for this game as you'll need to precision of a digital controller and Atari's joystick just won't cut it here especially is you want to get any kind of decent scores.
If you are an Atari 5200 owner than this game needs to be in your collection as it's a very solid game that plays very well and is also very affordable to boot so don't overlook this great game!
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