Thursday, 11 December 2014

Berzerk - Arcade

Sorry, there is no title screen for this game. Here's an empty highscore table instead.

A game steeped in infamy, a game that is responsible for at least one person dying, a game that features possibly the happiest nemesis you will ever encounter. I am talking about of course, Berzerk. A game possibly made famous because of the associated death but also having a level of uniqueness to it that other games back in 1980 didn't quite have.


Berzerk has you, as a happily animated little green character, running around a maze while either trying to shoot or avoid robots. A group of rather vocal robots that will happily announce their intentions to "Stop the intruder" or "Kill the humanoid" and various other insults that run along the lines of indicating that you are indeed a card-carrying member of some poultry based organisation. While you're running around, you can either leave by one of the doorways at the edge of the screen or go for the bonus points and try to kill every single robot in the room before Evil Otto turns up to shepherd you out of the arena. Or kill you.

There's Otto, he's killed 2 people already, you might be next.

Mazes are a rather unassuming group in that the maze is usually randomly generated upon death/starting over and each maze has usually, 4 exits. However, if you entered into the maze from one direction, you cannot leave in that direction as there'll be a door there. Touching or brushing against any of the walls of the maze or locked doors, much in the same way as touching a robot or being shot, or getting caught by Evil Otto, will kill you. In a lovely display of flashy colours for your little humanoid.

Whoo! Lots of red robots!

Where the difficulties stand within the game, as also are the predictable nature of the AI, is that your shooting can only be done in 8 directions and in the direction in which you're moving at the time of firing the shot off. At the same time as this, if an enemy robot has line of sight on you and there's room in the maze for a shot, it WILL fire at you, even if it means hitting the walls. While your character shoots directly from their hand rather than the middle of where their bounding boxes are located, so your attacks will invariably be inaccurate, initially.

Cyan robots! They shoot MORE bullets!

Robots themselves come in multiple flavours. The brown/yellow ones just idle around getting shot by the player. The red ones will take it in turns to fire a shot at you before someone picks the bullet up and fires another shot like some artillery based game of hot-potato. While the blue robots will have 2 bullets they share in which to try and terminate your existence. They do manage to do it surprisingly quickly for simplified artificial intelligence.

Fight, or run off. If you run, you'll be called a "chicken".

But that's not to say that combat on that level is the only choice available to the player. You could for example, get the robots to shoot each other, how you go about doing that is down to you but it can happen. Also, any exploding robot is deadly to everything, yourself AND other robots so you could try chain-linking some deaths together.

Redraw lines, repeat until brain seeps out of eyesockets and slithers off in shame.
As fun and quick as the game is, with some fantastic voice effects and quite an extensive vocabulary for the game itself, it falls into that old arcade adage of mindless repetition. Each level varies by a small amount of differentiation and ultimately, it gets dull quickly as you run through similar levels while occasionally being caught up by the ever-present Evil Otto. The shock and awe factor of 2 people having died while playing or shortly after playing, wears off quickly and you realise that death CAN COME as the game attempts to bore you to death. Avoid it or take a look for the sake of the infamy, but realise you're looking not because it's recommended as a good game, but because it's the "killer" game.