Release Date: 1982
Genre: Shoot’em Up – Maze
Alternate Title: N/A
Model #: CX2650
Programmer: Dan Hitchens
Without a doubt, Berzerk is one of the all time classics on the Atari 2600.
You are a lone warrior trapped in a never ending electrified maze that is filled with laser shooting robots and who must stay alive for as long as possible in order to set a new high score. Normally this is where you would say “must stay alive long enough to escape” but the game never ends, so we’ll go with set the new high score.
When you start you will be thrown into a random room filled with a handful of robots. Luckily on the first couple of levels the robots have been disarmed, which gives you a chance to become acquainted with your laser blaster. While it can only have one laser on the screen at a time (meaning it has to impact a wall or robot before you can fire again) it does give you one advantage over your metal foes, the ability to shoot diagonally. This is vitally important since after the first couple of levels you will have lasers flying at you from every direction, and in the later levels they will be moving at lightening fast speeds. Unless you can shoot from an angle you will be electrified before you can think about pulling the trigger.
Enemy lasers aren’t your only concern. For starters the walls are electrified. While this must be murder on the power bill, it does a fantastic job of making your life incredibly difficult. It can be frustrating to run as fast as you can away from an enemy blast only to clip the edge of the wall and die a painful death. On the upside the walls are deadly to your enemies, which is nice given that they are more than willing to walk directly into them for no good reason. While the robots are dumb enough to destroy themselves on the walls, they have no problem going all kamikaze on you (one touch and you are dead). Fun fact though, if you get shot and begin to sizzle you become deadly to the robots if they run into you. Always nice to score an extra few points on your way to the afterlife.
The other way to die is at the hands of the most terrifying enemy in the history of video games. Evil Otto. If you spend too long on a level a giant smiling bouncing ball will appear randomly on the screen and chase you around. There is no killing it, no salvation from it, only the haunting memory of a bouncing smiley face chasing you until your death. There are some game variations where you can shoot Evil Otto, but it only postpones the inevitable since he will reappear in a matter of seconds.
If you want to experience one of the premier titles for the 2600, and witness an enemy that will haunt your dreams, this is the game for you.