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Berzerk (Atari)


DoctorSpuds

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Berzerk is an undeniable classic; everybody likes Berzerk it seems, apart from me. I’m not a fan of Berzerk but I can’t deny its legacy. Berzerk was one of the earliest top-down shooters and also one of the earliest games to have voice sampling. Inevitably the game was ported onto the 2600 where it maintained its success, and it was later ported to the 5200 and 8-Bit line as well. The 2600 port is very faithful to its source material, since the arcade wasn’t a very complex game to begin with. The goal is simple, shoot shit and get points. There is no end point; all you do is increase your score until you inevitably die. I feel that this gameplay type has been done better, even on the 2600, I find Marauder from Tigervision to be a very good Berzerk-like top-down shooter, hell I even find Venture to be more enjoyable. For me it all comes down to the gameplay, it just feels so mundane. You’ll wind up running through handful of screens over and over again shooting the same dumb as bricks robots. I know the robot AI was a big selling point back in the day, they made mistakes and acted ‘human’, but these guys have nothing but rust housed in their craniums as they will spare no time in running into the nearest wall. The only time you’ll find yourself outmatched by a robot is if you appear in the center of a pack of them, then you’re toast since you have to be moving in the direction you want to shoot to shoot in that direction, and the robots can be quite trigger happy when they feel like it. Depending on the gameplay mode you choose you may encounter Evil Otto, he is a large smiley face that will quickly chase you around a screen if you take too long to clear it. Depending on which game variation you select Evil Otto is either invincible or can be rebounded by shooting him, basically you shoot him and he vanishes for a few seconds before showing back up again. Otto can be quite annoying when he’s invincible since he moves pretty darn quickly while you move pretty darn slowly, this is not a particularly quick game. So, sometimes when Otto appears you will be too far away from one of the exits and you are guaranteed to lose a life since there is no way to outrun him. I also need to mention that shooting diagonally is absolutely useless and is kinda screwed up.
 
I don’t hate this game; I just find it incredibly boring after a while. The game modes I usually play on are games 5 and 8 just so I can shoot that bastard Otto, but it’s very rare that I would play this game in the first place. So, should you buy this game? Well… I can’t say no, this is a universal game for the 2600, and everybody has at least one copy. I won’t tell you the buying info since if you can’t find one in the wild then something is seriously wrong and boxed copies are also plentiful as well. If you had the option however I’d recommend that you play the Atari 8-Bit version since it has the voice clips and a greater variety of maze screens and, I know it’s a prototype but if you have an SD drive it shouldn’t be a problem. Berzerk may not be my favorite game but I can’t justify sending such a common and beloved game to the Collector’s Zone.
 

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It's probably worth mentioning that the excellent 8-bit version is a common cart for the 5200... one of the big reasons that system is worth the trouble. :-)

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It's probably worth mentioning that the excellent 8-bit version is a common cart for the 5200... one of the big reasons that system is worth the trouble. :-)

 

Well, maybe, I still don't think the 5200 is quite worth it, especially when for the same price as a working 5200 with controllers and games you can get a maxed 800 and an SD drive. That's just my personal opinion of course, though you'd probably want to go for an XE if you're going to play the 8-Bit games.

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I felt the same way about the 5200 for a long, long time. And I certainly wouldn't ever discourage someone from checking out any computer from the 8-bit line... they were awesome back in the day, and they're awesome now. But there's something quite appealing about the 5200 despite its shortcomings (by which I totally mean the original controllers) The look and feel of the console and carts is absolutely fantastic, and as a collector, the low cost and high quality of the limited number of games in its library is very appealing. Unlike the 2600, you can collect a full set without being a zillionaire. Even the Holy Grail of the system, Bounty Bob Strikes Back, can be had for well under the cost any of the dozen or so Grails for the 2600. And unlike those ultra-rare 2600 games, BBSB is absolutely excellent.

 

I wouldn't recommend the 5200 to a casual retro gamer thanks to the need to either find alternative controllers or maintain the original ones, but for a Atari enthusiast or collector, it's actually a whole lot of fun!

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One thing lacking vs the arcade is the robots won't collide into each other in the 2600 version. I'm starting to feel the urge to work on Frantic again, which has this feature.

Before I do that I need to update SpiceC to use the new CDFJ version of CDF. CDFJ adds a second Jump Datastream for John, which allowed him to free up ~450 bytes in WoW which he'll be using for sound effect data.

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Looking forward to checking out your magic once again with Frantic someday!

 

One thing lacking vs the arcade is the robots won't collide into each other in the 2600 version. I'm starting to feel the urge to work on Frantic again, which has this feature.

Before I do that I need to update SpiceC to use the new CDFJ version of CDF. CDFJ adds a second Jump Datastream for John, which allowed him to free up ~450 bytes in WoW which he'll be using for sound effect data.

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