Berzerk is a multidirectional shooter video game that was initially released for arcades in 1980 and later for the Atari 2600 in 1982. The game was developed by Stern Electronics and designed by Alan McNeil. Berzerk places the player in the role of a human fighting his way through a maze of interconnected rooms filled with hostile robots. The objective is to destroy the robots while avoiding their shots, as well as the walls of the maze, which are electrified.
The player can move and shoot in any direction using the joystick and a single action button. The robots in the game are programmed to follow the player’s movements and fire back, but they can also accidentally shoot each other or run into the electrified walls, destroying themselves in the process. Additionally, a character called Evil Otto, represented by a bouncing smiley face, appears periodically and relentlessly pursues the player, encouraging them to move quickly through the maze.
Berzerk was notable for its use of synthesized speech, which was a novelty at the time. The game would taunt players with phrases like “Coin detected in pocket” and “The humanoid must not escape.” The combination of addictive gameplay and unique features made Berzerk a popular title in both arcades and on the Atari 2600.
BERZERK ORIGINAL ATARI 2600 INSTRUCTION MANUAL
GOING BONKERS WITH BERZERK
The Astro Date is 3200 and you are the last survivor of a small group of earth people who came to explore the planet Mazeon. Soon after landing, you discovered the planet is a dark, apparently uninhabitable place. But by then it was too late to turn back because your space craft had been destroyed by Automazeons.
Now you are a prisoner here. You are trapped in a maze where even the walls are death to touch. Grim robot thugs known as “Automazeons” stalk you relentlessly and you must systematically pulverize them with your laser gun before they eliminate you with theirs.
You are never safe on the planet Mazeon. Even when you’ve destroyed the mechanical heavies, Evil Otto, the mad and merciless mind behind the robot gangs, leaps out from where he’s been observing the battle. You flee in panic because you know that you cannot kill Evil Otto and that, once he catches you, you’ll never escape.
He will pound you to a lifeless pulp, grinning like a maniac all the while. Your only hope is to get out of the electrified maze before Evil Otto catches you.
If you do get out, you find yourself in another maze. Again the faceless robots shoot at you, again Evil Otto pursues you, again you must dodge and shoot and run … into yet another maze. It’s enough to drive you bonkers!
BERZERK GAME PLAY
BERZERK is for one player only.
Your challenge in BERZERK is to score as many points as possible without being destroyed yourself. In some game variations, you must elude the robots’ expert aims and escape Evil Otto. (See Section 5 for a description of GAME VARIATIONS.)
Use your Joystick Controller to maneuver your man through the maze (but don’t touch the walls or a robot, you’ll electrocute him!). Press the red controller (fire) button to shoot your laser gun at the robots. You score points for every robot that is destroyed. You score bonus points when all robots in a maze are destroyed – whether they are struck by your laser, pummelled by Evil Otto, hit by other robot lasers, they collide with each other, or run into the electrified wall. Each maze ends when your man perishes or escapes.
In games where the robots shoot they never start firing until the second maze. This gives you a chance to become familiar with the game. Initially, robots move and shoot slower than your man. But with each consecutive maze, up to the 16th maze, the robots’ movements and firing speeds gradually increase. At maze 16, the robots reset to move slowly again (gradually increasing speed with each maze) but their firing speeds remain equal to your man’s until the game ends.
You begin the game with three lives. Lives that remain will flash briefly at the bottom of the screen, off-centered to the right, just before a new maze appears. You will lose a life if you: 1) are hit by a robot’s laser, 2) run into the electrified wall of the maze, 3) get caught by Evil Otto. In certain game variations, you can earn extra lives. Again, check Section 5 – GAME VARIATIONS, to learn about these variations. When all your lives are lost the game is over.
BEZERK USING THE CONTROLLERS
Use your Joystick Controller with this ATARI Game Program cartridge. Be sure to plug the controller cables firmly into the jacks at the back of your Video Computer System game. Hold the controller with the red fire button to your upper left toward the television screen. Use the LEFT CONTROLLER jack for this one-player game. See Section 3 of your owner’s manual for further details.
Use the Joystick Controller to:
- Begin or restart a game.
- Move the man through the maze on the screen.
- Aim and shoot your man’s lasers.
Press the controller button to start a new game. You can do this whenever the game is over.
Push the Joystick forward to move the man up and pull it back to move the man down the screen. To move the man left, push the Joystick to the left. Push the Joystick to the right to move the man right.
You can also make him move and shoot diagonally by moving the Joystick diagonally forward or back.
Press the red button to fire your laser. It will shoot in the direction you have most recently moved your man. Also, if you depress the fire button while moving the Joystick, your man will stand and fire lasers in any direction you move the Joystick.
BERZERK CONSOLE CONTROLS
- GAME SELECT SWITCH: To select a BERZERK game, press down the GAME SELECT switch. If you press and hold down this switch, the game numbers automatically change at the bottom center of the screen. There are 12 game numbers in total. For a breakdown of the GAME VARIATIONS, see Section 5.
- GAME RESET SWITCH: After you have selected the game number you wish to play, press down the GAME RESET switch to start the action. Each time GAME RESET is pressed, the game starts over.
- TV TYPE SWITCH: Set this switch to COLOR if you have a color television set. Set it to B-W to play the game in black and white.
- DIFFICULTY SWITCHES: DIFFICULTY switches are not used in this game.
BERZERK GAME VARIATIONS
BERZERK includes 12 exciting game variations. Before describing each of these games, we would like to acquaint you with game play terminology.
- BONUS LIFE: In addition to the three lives you start the game with, extra lives can be won in certain game variations. For example, in Game 1 you receive one new life every time you score 1,000 points. The computer congratulates you with a little tune each time you win another life. A maximum of six lives can be displayed on the screen at one time, although you may have more lives in reserve. The number of lives you can win in these game variations is 255. After that the counter resets to zero and you must start winning bonus lives all over again.
- INVINCIBLE EVIL OTTO: When Evil Otto is invincible, he keeps coming at you. There is no deterring him. You can only escape him by running out of the maze.
- REBOUND EVIL OTTO: Some games feature a reboud Evil Otto, in which you can actually shoot the grinning head with your laser and he will disappear for a few seconds. Beware! Evil Otto will soon reappear to continue in pursuit of you. Zap him again and he will disappear again. You can make him rebound an infinite number of times.
- NON-SHOOTING ROBOTS: In some game variations, the robots aren’t armed. You can stand right in front of them but they can’t shoot you. Take care, you will still lose a life if you touch one.
- GAME 1: In Game 1 you receive an extra life every 1,000 points, there is no Evil Otto to pursue you, but watch out for the robots – they’ll be shooting at you!
- GAME 2: Game 2 offers a bonus life every time you make 1,000 points, the robots fire at you and Evil Otto rebounds when you shoot him.
- GAME 3: You win a new life every 1,000 points in Game 3. You’ll need all the lives you can get because in this game Evil Otto is invincible and the robots stalk you with their lasers.
- GAME 4: In Game 4 you have the opportunity to gain a new life every 2,000 points, there is no Evil Otto, but the robots are militant and you must dodge their deadly laser beams.
- GAME 5: With a rebound Evil Otto and mean robots on the prowl, Game 5 is like Game 2 – except a bonus life is won at 2,000 points rather than 1,000.
- GAME 6: Win another life every 2,000 points in Game 6. But watch out for invicible Evil Otto and combatant robot goons.
- GAME 7: In Game 7 there are no bonus lives and no Evil Otto. You have only the laser-firing robots to contend with.
- GAME 8: Game 8 offers a rebound Evil Otto. Otherwise it is exactly like Game 7.
- GAME 9: For a real BERZERK challenge, try Game 9! Here, Evil Otto is invincible, the robot gangs are armed and dangerous, and you have no bonus lives to prolong game play.
- GAME 10: In Game 10 you have the opportunity to win a new life every 1,000 points, the robots don’t shoot, but watch out for Evil Otto – he’s invincible!
- GAME 11: You can really rack up the points in Game 11. The robots don’t shoot, Evil Otto rebounds and you get a new life every 1,000 points.
- GAME 12/CHILDREN’S VERSION: This is the easiest of all BERSERK variations. In Game 12 there is no Evil Otto, the robots don’t shoot at you, and you win a bonus life every 1,000 points. It’s a good game for beginners or young children.
Your score is determined by the number of robots that are destroyed. Whether you shoot a robot or it is eliminated by other means, you receive points for every pulverized robot. You will earn bonus points when all the robots in a single maze are annihilated. Occasionally you will meet a super strong robot who is merely stunned by your first shot. Be brave, it will take a second hit to destroy this tough enemy.
Once you begin to score points, your score will appear at the bottom of the screen, off-centered to the right. When all robots in a maze are destroyed, your score disappears and your bonus points flash on the screen, off-centered on the left. The computer automatically combines all points and your total score is displayed in the next maze. You can score a maximum of 999,999 points before the score rolls back to zero.
Remember, in game variations where the robots shoot back, they never commence firing until the second maze. This will enable you to learn the maze. But, beginning with the second maze, you will no doubt find it more challenging to survive and continue scoring high points. Points are scored as follows:
Robots 50 Points Each
All Robots in a Maze 10 Bonus Points Each
BEZERK STRATEGY AND HELPFUL HINTS
When you first start playing the tougher BERZERK variations (games in which the robots shoot and Evil Otto is invincible), you may feel there’s no way to survive. Don’t despair! The following are some strategies you can use to stay alive longer, score more points, and even escape the dread Evil Otto.
Since the robots’ shots cannot penetrate the maze walls, use this to your advantage. Hide behind walls to dodge laser fire, then leap out when it is safe to aim and shoot at robots.
Position robot(s) between your man and Evil Otto. This strategy should cause Evil Otto to destroy the robot(s) first (thereby scoring points for you) and you will have more time to escape.
Evil Otto moves more slowly when there are robots on the screen. But once all the robots are gone, the evil fellow bounds toward you with amazing speed! Remember this so you can position your man near an exit as you finish off the robots, then make a swift escape.
Keep your finger on the fire button as you move from one maze to another. It takes the robots a few seconds to start their attack and you can often blindly zap them when you enter shooting.
Since robots are programmed to follow you, you can influence them by your movement, causing them to shoot at and collide with each other or run into walls.
Evil Otto always enters where the man enters. Try to get away from this danger zone and near an exit as soon as it is safe.
Keep your distance from robot gangs because you can cover yourself in only one direction at a time. When you find yourself surrounded by a gang, shoot your way out and put some space between you and them. It’s much easier to see and avoid distant robot fire than close range fire.
When robots shoot on the vertical it is from the left side. You can position your man above or below them on the right side where they can’t hit you, but you can blast them.
Unlike you robots cannot shoot on the diagonal. If you stand diagonally to one you will be out of its line of fire while it will be vilnerable to your laser shot.
There is a special horizontal laser beam wraparound feature that will help you destroy robots. In mazes that have a right and left exit, you can stand just inside the right exit and shoot through it. Your laser beams will then “wrap around” the screen and reenter on the left side through that opening. Any robots standing in your line of fire will be struck.
BERZERK GAME SELECT MATRIX
All BERZERK Games Are For One Player Only
* Children’s Version
|Bonus Life Every 1,000 Points
|Bonus Life Every 2,000 Points
|No Bonus Life
|No Evil Otto
|Rebound Evil Otto
|Invincible Evil Otto