Berzerk, as one of THE classic arcade games, of course received ports to Atari’s home video game systems of the day. First up was the Atari 2600 version in 1982 (the original arcade version had been released in 1980). Because Berzerk was a fairly simple game graphically speaking, the Atari 2600 manages a good representation. Sure, the colors aren’t quite as bright and the sounds not as rich but the game play is still there and it is easily recognizable as the same game. Game play is fairly simple as well. You control a stick figure that navigates simple single screen mazes while avoiding evil robots. You and the robots are armed with lasers and the walls are electrified. Getting touched by a laser, robot or wall will kill you. Your goal is simply to make it to the other side of the screen to progress to the next one.
The one big thing that the Atari 2600 version was missing, however, was speech synthesis. The arcade version of Berzerk was the first arcade game to feature speech synthesis but this was not something the Atari 2600 could easily handle. However, there was a hacked version of Berzerk for the 2600 released in 2002 that had speech added. When Berzerk was ported to the Atari 5200 the year following the 2600 release, speech was added. The Atari 5200 also features slightly better graphics as you might expect. However, because of the crappy Atari 5200 controllers, it really isn’t as much fun to play as the 2600 version despite its other advantages.
If you collect original cartridges for the 2600 or 5200 then this is definitely one to pick up. It’s a fun game and pretty easy to find. There aren’t a lot of options for playing this game as I’m not aware of any re-releases of the original. The Atari 2600 version or a hacked version for the Atari 8-bit computers is probably the best way to go to play on original hardware. Otherwise, the original arcade version is the way to go if you are using emulation.
The ad above is for the Atari 2600 version of Berzerk and is from the July/August 1982 issue of Atari Age. The screen shot is from the Atari 5200 version of the game.