Saturday, January 11, 2020

Game 21: Berzerk

Genre:Top-Down Shooter
Time:Under an hour

Ah, Stern, a company I have heard so much about, yet played so little. From my perspective they are pinball making gods, and I am not good at pinball. Their cabinets have some of the most amazing art I've seen. You can probably tell that I have that opinion if you've ever seen my art. The cabinet for this game was probably similarly amazing, but we're not here to talk about cabinet art. I knew basically nothing about this game going in, except it inspired Night Stalker in some way, and that it is believed to be the first game to cause someone's death. A fact, Wikipedia, curiously, does not mention anywhere. Enough of that, how does it hold up today?
At first, this seems like any shooter it helped inspire, freedom of movement, one shot at a time (both player and enemy, because of memory limitations) and a lot of enemies to kill. This differs from its descendants because enemies are really, really dumb. You see, the walls in this game are insta-kill traps, and what kills you kills the enemy. Enemies at first stand still, but sometimes they decide to walk in one direction. They don't stop until they see you.
The game doesn't really seem to have much of a difficulty curve, I've noticed. Its pure luck if you get thrown into a situation you can get out of at your current skill level at any moment. Enemies are laid down randomly too, and you need to make a mad dash to kill the ones closest to you before they get you. That's about it for the core gameplay.

While the blaster is satisfying to use, it does have some odd angles vertically. 1/10

They're there and they're dumb as rocks. 0/10

None. 0/10

A handful of simple mazes. 0/10

Player Agency:
The player moves horizontally faster than he does vertically. Its really annoying. You can also do diagonal shots. If you're mad. 2/10

None. 0/10

I can't say that it does. 0/10

The robots are nice, but there's something off about the human character. 1/10

It doesn't matter. 0/10

No music, simple Atari blips/bloops. Not stellar, but what do you expect? Its Atari, it has a charm all its own. 1/10

That's 5. Ultimately, its not really fair to compare a simple game known as an arcade classic on a scale primarily built for something like Doom or Duke Nukem 3D. But I must, and it shall be so poorly rated.

*1982 was the Atari version I played, but I'm dumping this under 1981 because I like to put the earliest year and I don't think I'll have many other 1980 games. This will quietly disappear if that proves untrue.


  1. Another all time arcade classic. Still great fun though the arcade original with speech is extra fun, and the sequel "Frenzy" is also great with an excellent Colecovision port.

    1. Fortunately, when I get to Frenzy I'll be playing it properly. Back when I did this game I had yet to figure out MAME.

  2. Yeah MAME can be a pain. There is no doubt there.