Also On: PS4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X
Berzerk, the classic Arcade game by Stern Electronics, came home to Atari Consoles in the early 80’s. it’s been a staple in the Atari 2600 Library and had been included in many compilations and retrospectives. You control a human, trapped in a maze surrounded by killer robots. Armed with only a laser pistol, you have to make your way through the maze and survive. Stay too long in a room and an entiny named ‘Evil Otto” will chase you. You can’t kill him, so you must run away. One thing that made it stand out from other games at the time was the Synthesized voice of the robots at least in the Arcade and Atari 5200 versions, with lines such as “The Humanoid must not escape” and “Chicken, Fight Like a Robot” becoming iconic. Now, Berzerk has been given the “Recharged” Treatment and now a new generation of gamers can challenge Evil Otto and his killer robot infested mazes.
The basic gameplay of Berzer remains the same with this Recharged version. You still control a Human, and you are still moving from room to room in a maze littered with robots, all trying to kill you. The Design and behavior of the robots are different now, as some are more challenging to destroy or dodge. Evil Otto also still makes his presence known and is as menacing as ever. Your only goal here, as with the original game, is to survive and get the high score. There is actually no escape from the robot maze, as it just goes on forever or until you die. You now have the ability to more accurately aim your weapon with the right analog stick while firing with the right shoulder button. This makes it a bit easier to hit Robots from longer distances.
Each room is randomly generated, giving you a different challenge every time you play, although this Recharged version adds some more obstacles like destructible walls and turret guns that will activate when you get close. Also added from the original are the electrified walls that will kill you with a single touch. They are not found in every room like they were in the original game but will end you quickly if you are not careful. Otto does have a countdown as to when he will appear and which door he will roll out of, giving you a chance to plan your path to the next room.
As with other releases, Berzerk: Recharged comes with many extras not found in the original. There are now Power-Ups like shields and speed boosts, and new weapons like the railgun and shotgun for a wider range of attacks. These pickups are randomly scattered throughout the rooms and can make things easier, or get you killed depending on the situation you are in. You also have a Rocket Boost for a quick burst of speed if you need to dodge a barrage of enemy bullets or to outrun Evil Otto During an intense chase. Since you only have one life, you also now have a life meter that can take about 4 or 5 hits before you die, but most of the time this will not save you, as Otto, electrified wall, or a robot running into you can end you with one hit. The additions are nice for new players, but I personally turn off all of these helping agents and try to get the best score with all of these options turned off. The more helper agents you deactivate will increase your final score as the challenge is more tough and closer to that original arcade feel.
The one BIG, BIG omission from Berzerk: Recharged… the Robots and Evil Otto no longer speak. They just make whirring and laser noises as they try to kill you. I truly miss not having these robots mock you as you run from them and hearing them call for you to be destroyed constantly. I’m not sure why one of the most iconic thing about the original Berzerk was omitted here. It is disappointing to say the least.
No robot voices aside, I did quite enjoy my time with Berzerk: Recharged. it may be modernized and made a bit easier with its powerup system, but it does retain that classic arcade feel by having no goal in mind, other than getting a higher score from the last game you played. It’s definitely one of the better Recharged versions of these classic games and players of all skill levels can have a lot of fun. Try this out if your curious, or if you are a fan of the original.
Atari provided us with a Berzerk: Recharged PlayStation code for review purposes.