Berzerk (Atari 2600) is a multi-directional shooter video arcade game, released in 1980 by Stern Electronics of Chicago. It is one of the canonical examples of a maze game, in which the player has to navigate around a maze-like building while shooting enemies. Play Berzerk online here.
Berzerk (Atari 2600) gameplay
The player controls a green stick man. Using a joystick and a firing button that activates a laser-like weapon, the player navigates a simple maze filled with many robots, who fire lasers back at the player character. A player can be killed by being shot, by running into a robot or an exploding robot, get electrocuted by the electrified walls of the maze itself, or by being touched by the player’s nemesis, Evil Otto.
The function of Evil Otto, represented by a bouncing smiley face, is to quicken the pace of the game. Otto is unusual, with regard to games of the period, in that there is no way to kill him. Otto can go through walls with impunity and is attracted to the player character. If robots remain in the maze Otto moves slowly, about half as fast as the humanoid, but he speeds up to match the humanoid’s speed once all the robots are killed. Evil Otto moves exactly the same speed as the player going left and right but he can move faster than the player going up and down; thus, no matter how close Otto is, the player can escape as long as they can avoid moving straight up or down.
The player advances by escaping from the maze through an opening in the far wall. Each robot destroyed is worth 50 points. Ideally, all the robots in the current maze have been destroyed before the player escapes, thus gaining the player a per-maze bonus (ten points per robot). The game has 65,536 rooms (256×256 grid), but due to limitations of the random number generation there are fewer than 1,024 maze layouts (876 unique). It has only one controller, but two-player games can be accomplished by alternating at the joystick.
The game is most difficult when the player enters a new maze, as there is only a short interval between entering the maze and all the robots in range firing at the player. For the beginner, this often means several deaths in rapid succession, as each death means starting a new maze layout.
Play Berzerk online
You can play Berzerk online, emulated in web browser.