Berzerk Recharged Review

A number of old arcade classics have been given a modern makeover that takes their core gameplay and adds new gameplay elements to make for a fun new experience. Atari has been a part of this game renaissance as well, working its way through its classic arcade catalog and appending “Recharged” to the names of such storied games as Asteroids and Missile Command. The latest entry in this series is Berzerk Recharged, an update on the robot-fighting maze game.

For those unfamiliar with the original, it was a top-down shooter that put you in control of a stick-figure person trapped in an endless maze with deadly robots. Each level consisted of a screen-sized room with some partitions to form walls to restrict movement and an exit on one or more of the screen’s edges which led to the next room. The rooms were populated with robots that followed the player around the screen and occasionally fired slow-moving laser bolts at the player. The player was armed with a laser pistol that could fire its own bolt at the robots. The laser bolts were deadly for both the robots and player, with a single hit being enough to eliminate the target. To keep players from camping out to slowly pick-off the enemies – or perhaps to prevent them from leaving their stick figure in an empty room while they took a break and left the arcade game sitting idle – each level had a short timer tied to it. If the player didn’t exit the room by the time the timer expired, an invulnerable bouncing happy face, Evil Otto, would appear and quickly make its way to the player. If Evil Otto made contact with the player before he left the room, the player would die.


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Berzerk Recharged plays in pretty much the same way as the original, which in and of itself is a good thing. However, the “recharged” half of the equation doesn’t add that much to the game. You now have a health bar, so death is no longer instantaneous on your first hit. The rooms are larger than in the original, giving the game more space to create more complex room and passage layouts. There are a few new enemy types to contend with such as fast flying objects that make a beeline for you and stationary turrets that open fire when they detect you. There are now power-ups that give you limited-time boosts such as extra speed or bouncing bullets. The controls have been reworked so that the game is now a true two-stick shooter. All of these changes make the game more modern in the sense that none of them would have been possible in 1980, but if you removed the “Berzerk” name from the title, would you really have a modern arcade-style game?

Remove the nostalgia factor and you’re left a pretty basic and repetitive game. There are no goals other than to survive long enough to beat your high score or inch your way up the leaderboard. Granted, this is pretty much at the core of all classic arcade games designed to eat quarters, but the lack of any real innovations here outside of a few basic upgrades means that the game quickly becomes repetitive. The game does provide a few options to try and mix things up a bit. You can tweak three options to make the game a little harder in exchange for a score multiplayer, or you can play it in a challenge mode that provide short goal-based games – kill X number of robots before dying, that sort of thing. Outside of the goals, the challenges play exactly like the main mode.

The overall presentation is rather bland. The menus are functional and the graphics are simply adequate. I’ve been waiting for Atari to give its games the same treatment that Space Invaders and PAC-MAN have received, but the wait continues.


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If Berzerk were part of a collection of arcade games so that you could enjoy it in short bursts with a variety of other games it would be fine. However, there’s just not enough here to support a standalone release.

Final Rating: 60% - Berzerk is more in need of a reboot than a recharge.

 

Note: A review code for this game was provided by the publisher.