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|Rating:||4 out of 5|
Berzerk on the 5200 is very close to the arcade version - much more so than Berzerk for the 2600. This version features the synthesized voice as well as 2-player support and is just as difficult as you may remember the arcade being. However, unlike most Atari 5200 games, the difficulty comes from the game programming rather than just the shitty controllers. You'll frequently find that your humanoid tends to travel well past the point at which the joystick went back to neutral.
With 11 skill settings this is one of the most challenging games out there. The mazes are horribly simplistic. It's the patrolling robots and their dead-on shooting prowess that made the coin-ops devour quarters as eager escape-artists tried to evade Evil Otto. These characteristics have been well kept for the Atari 5200 release with all of Berzerk's arcade controls present and accounted for.
The manual is sparse on information and never mentions planet Mazeon or the circumstances under which you are trapped in an electrified prison maze. But you veteran arcade fanatics can easily pick up the concepts via game-play. You know... don't touch exploding robots, walls or the yellow smiley face who wants to kill you.
You'll get 50 points for each robot kill and 10 bonus points per robot when you clear a level. You can go as high as 999,990 points before the scoreboard rolls back to 0. Bonus lives accrue at 5,000 ad 10,000 points but you can only have 4 lives maximum which seems unfair considering how damn hard this game gets. And it gets hard fast! No respits. You'll feel a chill when you hear "INtruder Alert" signaling the appearance of Evil Otto. You can turn the voice synth on and off with the "7" and "9" keys - although we're not sure why you'd want to do that.
The "*" cycles through the skill levels and the "#" toggles between 1 and 2 player modes, giving you the chance to take on an opponent in any of the 11 skill levels. But don't think you'll ever win. Evil Otto doesn't quit and neither do the mazes you'll keep appearing in. Its a challenge to see how long you survive and how many points you can accrue before dying. Pretty discouraging, eh? But playing Berzerk is a blast.
Your best bet is to begin each round shooting and try to find cover as the robots hit and shoot each other. You have the upper-hand at the start of each maze since the robots don't shoot immediately. And don't forget Evil Otto entes the maze at the same place you do, so don't stick around too long - run for an exit and remember you travel faster on a diagonal.
The arcade release of Berzerk was one of the first video games to use voice synthesis which played during attraction mode, bringing many players to see what all the chit-chat was about. In 1980 computer voice compression was expensive often costing the manufacturer $1,000 per word. Berzerk had a thirty-word English vocabulary.
Berzerk's voice synthesizer generates robot speech during these in-game events:
There is also random robot chat in the background, phrases consisting of "Charge", "Attack", "Kill", "Destroy", or "Get", followed by "The Humanoid", "The intruder", "it", or "the chicken", creating sentences such as "Attack it", "Get the Humanoid", "Destroy the intruder", "Kill the chicken", and so on. The speed and pitch of the phrases vary, from deep and slow, to high and fast. This diversity was too much for the 5200, but many of your favorite phrases made the cut! :)
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