I’ve always been a fan of Berzerk. I love the way the arcade game’s robotic voice taunts the player. With sayings like “Chicken, Fight Like a Robot” and “Quarters Detected in Pocket”, it seemed like a snarky Cylon from the original Battlestar Galactica. So Berzerk for the Vectrex seemed like a slam unk.
The graphics on the arcade machine aren’t too detailed. And, I figured that would make them ideal for translating to the Vectrex and its vector graphics. You’ve got some walls, some angular robots, and the running stick figure as the player. Really, Berzerk’s only curves come Otto the bouncing robot antagonist who appears if the player lingers in any room.
The gameplay couldn’t be simpler. Shoot the robots, and don’t get shot. Don’t touch the electrified walls. Fortunately for the player, any robot that meanders into a wall gets fried too. Otto, the bouncing smiley face who can’t be shot, must be avoided. Easy.
And, for the most part, in the arcade, and on the Vectrex, the game is fairly straightforward and easy. The vector graphics do a nice job of translating the arcade experience. True, the game doesn’t audibly taunt you, but that wasn’t an integral part of gameplay.
But, the Vectrex version has a nuance that grows more annoying with time. In the arcade version, the walls were blue, robots red, and the player was a bright yellow. In the Vectrex version, everything is blue. And, that gets to be a problem in the later levels. When the map pops up at the beginning of each level, it’s hard to distinguish your blue player from the blue robots. Precious nanoseconds are lost as you get your bearings. And, during that time, the robots come after you.
It’s not a problem that ruins the game. But, it does add an annoyance that other versions of Berzerk in the arcade and at home don’t suffer from. If you’re a big fan of Berzerk, then this might be a worthwhile addition to your Vectrex collection. Otherwise, just run from the room and leave Berzerk for the Vectrex behind.