Atari Poop – Berzerk
In 1982, the Atari 2600 got a port of Berzerk, an arcade game created by two people who travelled back in time to make a game based on a movie they really liked and their mutual hatred of Walmart. They ended up creating a classic game and one of the most terrifying video game characters ever.
How do I know that the people who created this game came from the future? It’ pretty obvious. Almost every aspect of the game is inspired by something they saw in a movie that hadn’t been made at the time the game was released. As well, the game featured a couple of things unheard of in the world of video games. Also, the game predicts something else that is yet to happen.
The movie ripped off by Berzerk is clearly The Goonies, which came out in 1985, a full three years after the 2600 port and 5 years before the arcade original. The odd, cyborg-like enemies in Berzerk were modeled on the character Sloth; however, graphical limitations meant they couldn’t get his offset eyes to look right, but went with it anyway since it made them look like the robot from The Day the Earth Stood Still.
Interesting side note: The protagonist and enemies were originally supposed to have swords (continuing with The Goonies’ pirate theme), but the graphics on the 2600 being what they were, it just looked like a bunch of weird characters beating each other with dildos until they explonded. Kinda wish they had went with it anyway.
One final Goonies note: the randomly generated rooms you need to navigate were originally going to have traps to figure out and avoid, much like the traps set by One-Eyed Willie and his men in The Goonies. However, some recent gaming historians believe this interpretation is flawed because elements like Evil Otto (explained later), the utter lack any kind of indication as to why you are in these rooms killing robots, and the fact that the game has no end, thus meaning you are doomed to roam these rooms and kill robots until you die, indicates that the creators undoubtedly alluding to Cube, a Canadian movie made in 1997.
I mentioned that this game features two things never before seen in video game. The first is the ability to shoot diagonally. In other words, you can shoot in 8 directions in Berzerk. Only a mind not constrained by the linear dead-end thinking prevalent in the 70s and 80s could have come up with such an innovation, so the person was evidently from the future or on a lot of acid… or both. The most logical explanation between the two is no doubt time travel.
Finally, we have Evil Otto. The character is the first in video game history that cannot be killed. He’s like a cross between an NPC and a boss in the most terrible way possible. Even worse than you not being able to kill him and him being able to kill you is that HE IS ABLE TO KILL YOU… IN REAL LIFE!!
So, why create a godlike smiling death monster in the first place? To ruin Walmart, of course. The creators hated Walmart, because in their present/our future, Walmart becomes the largest corporation in the world and then starts mining other planets for its mineral resources (destroying the natural habitat of entire ecosystems and a “primitive” race of people) in an effort to keep their everyday low prices, so they not only used the Walmart smiley to create the pants-shittingly scariest video game character ever, but they also had the smiley appear in a much more subliminal fashion. Every time a robot dies, the resulting explonsion also has the smiley flash on screen briefly. Here, take a look:
In the end, they chose to not call him something too obvious like Wally, or Marty, or Evil Multinational Corporation Face Logo Guy, and went with Otto for two reasons: it’s a palindrome and it spells “toot” inside out.
In conclusion, I really like this game regardless of whether or not it eventually manages to destroy Walmart.