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Berzerk - The Atari Times


Voice without having to buy an adapter!
by Jonathan Rose

March 15, 2004
Ah yes, the much maligned 5200. For some reason that escapes me, this system seems to have gotten a bad rap, which is a shame, really, when you consider how many excellent games it had. Yeah, yeah, the controllers were a bit strange, and take some getting used to, but so did a lot of controllers back then. Intellivision anyone?

Berzerk is a case in point. I picked it up at a thrift store along with two(!) 5200's, one of which was still in the box! In my town, which has been ravaged by no less than two avid collectors with bottomless pockets (neither of which was me), this was a major score. I'm an avid 2600 collector, and was quite stoked at finally having a chance to play one. Having never really played with a 5200, I didn't quite know what to expect. Once I got it home and cleaned up, I popped in this little gem of an arcade game and was, quite simply, blown away.

For those of you who don't remember Berzerk (all five of you), it's all about running around mazes shooting robots, while avoiding the electrified walls. Simple, yes, but it has that 'twitch' gameplay that makes classic gaming so much fun. Added to the already frantic pace, one must dispatch robots with alacrity, or else be chased and inevitably destroyed by a bouncing smiley face called evil Otto. The dread of that little smiley face showing up was sweat inducing stuff, and the pace only gets crazier as you go forward. Great stuff, but one more thing really made Berzerk great: the voice emulation. Yeah, nothing beats frying robots and running from evil smiley faces, and then having the computer insult you verbally, sounding for all the world like one of those cheesy Cylons from the old Battlestar Galactic series. 

So I imagine my surprise when I popped in Berzerk. It is a shining example of the quality arcade ports on the 5200 generally had. The graphics are nearly arcade perfect, looking almost exactly like the coin op. The gameplay is just as fast and frantic as it's arcade counterpart, and suffers only slightly from the infamous non-centered nature of the 5200 controllers. It has that elusive 'just one more game' quality to it, and you'll find yourself wasting half an hour with it before you know it. And then, dear friends, there's the sound! When the game yelled 'Chicken, fight like a robot' at me, I almost dropped my controller in surprise. Not only is it arcade perfect, the even managed to emulate the voices too! And do them well! For a 16k system from the early eighties, that's pretty flipping incredible!

This game is easily the best home version of Berzerk ever made, and if you have a 5200, there is no excuse for not owning it. This game is pure gold. 100%, and two thumbs up.

Is this the ancestor to games like Doom?
The first wave is quite easy. They don't even shoot at you.
Um... Run!
System: 5200
Publisher: Atari
Genre: Action
Graphics Score: 100%
Sound & Music Score: 100%
Gameplay Score: 100%
Control Score: 90%

Final Score: 100%

Reader Comments for Berzerk

The VOICE! by Gregory D. George on 2006-10-02 23:41:29
It just blew me away when I first heard the game talk! Before I got my 5200, I thought only RS Baseball did any speech. Anyway, this is a fun game, made only more amazing by the lack of a voice synthesis device like what the Intellivision needed!
Berzerk by youngzen on 2009-03-19 22:26:18
I also had this title as a kid and played endlessly. I too do not understand why the atari 5200 seems to get a bad rap. The atari 5200 super system was the ps3 of its day. With its innovative controllers to its advanced oversize cartridges no other system could compete.
Naw... by Darryl B. on 2009-03-20 01:53:34
I don't recall the 5200 getting a "bad rap", as it's small library enjoyed pretty positive reviews for the most part.
Impressive to be a 1980s game by Randy Johnson on 2014-07-24 19:57:51
Thirty years ago this game was very impressive because it talked. Most video games didn't do that. By todays standards, a video game that talks isn't impressive because many many games talk. This version of Berzerk was every bit as good as the arcade version.
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