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Berzerk (Atari 2600, 1982)

Run Jump Shoot #3 - Berzerk  (Atari 2600, 1982)

By Nathan Meunier

June 25, 2008 - I can't think of a more aptly named Atari game. Playing 10 minutes of Berzerk is likely to put anyone in such a state - assuming they're able to survive that long. Woe to the little blocky man who's stuck in an endless maze of killer robots who hunger for his humanoid flesh!

The first few rounds of running around the limited, maze-like obstacle course blasting harmless yellow androids are quaint. It's amusing to watch the robots slowly march towards you, and dodging their laser pot-shots is effortlessly laughable. It's also immensely satisfying whenever a rogue droid mindlessly obliterates itself by walking into a wall in the course of executing its mission.

Then they start to fight back...

Run Jump Shoot #3 - Berzerk  (Atari 2600, 1982)

Like any good android, these robots adapt and learn, and their prime directive is to vaporize squishy humans. They quickly become faster, more aggressive, and deadlier. The odds are also stacked heavily against players, since they're instantly electrocuted by touching anything (lasers, robots, or the walls) besides empty space. It doesn't take long for the game to live up to its name.

The Atari 5200 version of Berzerk included super low-budget (and subsequently awesome) digitized voice clips. Every so often the little psychotic androids would fire off choice phrases like "the humanoid must not escape" and "intruder alert, intruder alert." They'd also throw in a few random words like "kill," "destroy," and "attack," for good measure. Sadly, this is something I missed while playing the Atari 2600 version as a kid, but I'm also able to better appreciate it later in life.

Though painfully simple, Berzerk is one of the most addictive Atari games. It frequently results in sweaty palms and cramped hands from frantically mangling the joystick. Resisting the android horde is ultimately a futile endeavor, but it's just so damn fun.

By Nathan Meunier
CCC Staff Contributor / Pixel Artist

Berzerk (Atari 2600, 1982) Screenshot

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