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Berzerk Berzerk - Japanese Logo - Katakana / Kanji

Berzerk - Cabinet - Video Game Marquee


Humanoid player runs through maze-like rooms, destroying robots while avoiding their fire. The indestructable Evil Otto is the game's timer, forcing the player to move on. One of the first talking games, remember "Get the Humanoid!"?

Berzerk was produced by Stern Electronics in 1980.

Stern Electronics released 67 machines in our database under this trade name, starting in 1977. Stern Electronics was based in United States.

Other machines made by Stern Electronics during the time period Berzerk was produced include: Trident, Hot Hand, Meteor, Dracula, Magic, Ali, Star Gazer, Nine Ball, End The, and Astro Invader


Name Berzerk
Developer Stern Electronics (United States)
Year 1980
Type Videogame
KLOV/MOG # 7096
Class Wide Release
Genre Shooter
Conversion Class unique
# Simultaneous Players 1
# Maximum Players 2
Game Play Alternating
Control Panel Layout Single Player Ambidextrous
  • Joystick: 9-position optical
  • Buttons: 1 - Fire
Sound Amplified Mono (one channel)
Cabinet Styles
  • Upright/Standard
  • Cabaret/Mini - Only one known to exist
  • Cocktail
Control Panel Berzerk Control Panel Image

Game Play

In each and every maze, the humanoid must destroy all robots using his laser gun without touching the deadly walls, colliding with a robot, or getting hit by any of the lasers fired by the robots.

After the humanoid has destroyed all the robots, he must escape through one of open doorways before Evil Otto appears. If Evil Otto appears when there are still robots, he will bounce very slowly. But after all the robots are destroyed, Evil Otto will be bouncing even faster. The humanoid must escaped before Evil Otto gets him or he is done for because Evil Otto cannot be killed.

Although the robots are supposed to be destroyed by the humanoid with his laser gun, the robots are not very smart and can also be destroyed whenever they run into each other, touch the deadly walls, get hit by their own lasers or get run over by Evil Otto. But no matter how they are destroyed, the player gets the credit and scores points.

A bonus score is given if all the robots in the maze are destroyed. But if there any robots are left in the maze when the humanoid escapes through one of the open doorways, no bonus will be given.

The game has a voice synthesizer that speaks for all the actions in the game. For example, it says "Chicken! Fight like a robot!" if the humanoid exits the maze before all robots are destroyed, "Intruder Alert! Intruder Alert!" whenever Evil Otto appears, and "The humanoid must not escape" when the humanoid exits the maze after all robots are destroyed.

The game has 64,000 different mazes, each with a level of difficulty that constantly increases.

Berzerk KLOV/IAM 5 Point User Score: 3.83 (18 votes)

Fun Factor: 3.85

Overall Like 4.29
Fun (Social) 3.24
Fun (Solo) 4.11
Collector Desire 3.56

Technical Rating: 3.99

Gameplay 4.35
Graphics 3.29
Originality 4.24
Sound/Music 4.06

Personal Impressions and Technical Impressions each account for half of the total score. Within the Personal Impressions category, Like carries a little more weight than the other factors.

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More pictures


Berzerk was Stern's first major video game success. It was made in both upright (approx. 37500) and cocktail (approx. 1200) models. It was also one of the first talking games -- remember "Get the Humanoid", "Chicken! Fight like a Robot", "Intruder Alert!", or "Coins Detected in pocket!"?

Perhaps the greatest stroke of genius in the game is the robot intelligence. Plaudits to designer Alan McNiel. These robots make human mistakes. Robots will run into each other or the deadly walls, shoot each other or get squashed by Evil Otto and the player gets the points, no matter how the robots die. It is the mark of a pro who uses this to his advantage.

Evil Otto can be considered one of the most intimidating video game villains of all time. He is, and even travels through walls, preventing a player from loafing in the room. He resembles a bouncing smiley face, and has been called a "Malicious basketball" by some.

According to one of the designers, Tony Martin, Berzerk suffered a bit in sales due to frequent breakdowns of it's original giant sized optical 8-way joystick. Approximately 4200 orders were canceled by distributors and operators whose machines were frequently down from the opto-stick. Stern issued free WICO leaf switch sticks to operators after they had so much trouble with the optical stick, but this still hurt sales.

Berzerk shares a rather chilling distinction of being the first known game to be blamed for an actual player's death. In January 1981, Jeff Dailey, a 19-year old Berzerk player, died of a massive heart attack right after playing his favorite game. His score was 16,660 (a very respectable score but disturbing for obvious reasons). On an equally distressing note, in October 1982, 18-year old Peter Burkowski, a physically healthy person who was alcohol-free and drug-free, inscribed his initials in Berzerk's top ten list twice in a matter of only fifteen minutes. A few seconds after that, he collapsed and died of a heart attack as well.

Berzerk's sequel Frenzy was produced in the form of a kit (less than 500 made) an upright (11,430), and cocktail (839). Frenzy featured walls that could be shot through, and Evil Otto could be had with four shots, but would return and travel even faster after he reappeared.

In some European countries you were able to find the game translated in its respective language. For example, in Spain the voice said "intruso alerta, intruso alerta", "el humanoide no debe escapar", etc.

Cabinet Information

The upright cabinet features a patented "board drawer" that allows the boards to be serviced from the front of the machine. Both the upright and cocktail cabinets feature fantastic artwork on the back glass using Marvel comics-style graphics. The look of terror on the humanoid's face (lower left side of the back glass) can often resemble the person playing the game.


Berzerk can be converted to Frenzy by replacing the ZPU-1000 with the ZPU-1001. Both games use the same power supply, video boards, sound boards, wiring harness, cabinet, and control panel.

VAPS Arcade/Coin-Op Berzerk Census

There are 14,842 members of the Video Arcade Preservation Society / Vintage Arcade Preservation Society, 9,508 whom participate in our arcade census project of games owned, wanted, or for sale. Census data currently includes 164,933 machines (6,921 unique titles).

Very Common - There are 282 known instances of this machine owned by Berzerk collectors who are active members. Of these, 254 of them are original dedicated machines. 4 of them are conversions in which game circuit boards (and possibly cabinet graphics) have been placed in (and on) another game cabinet. 23 of them are only circuit boards which a collector could put into a generic case if desired.

For Sale - There are 8 active VAPS members with a Berzerk machines for sale. There are 2 active VAPS members with a Berzerk circuit boards for sale.

Wanted - Very Popular - There are 35 active VAPS members currently looking for Berzerk. There are 3 active VAPS members looking for Berzerk boards sets.

This game ranks a 66 on a scale out of 100 (100 = most often seen, 1=least common) in popularity based on census ownership records.

This game ranks a 53 on a scale out of 100 (100 = most often seen, 1=least common) in popularity based on census want list records.

Rarity and Popularity independently are not necessarily indications of value. [More Information]



Berzerk was originally designed for the 6809E CPU, until it was discovered that the processor did not work properly. The board was then redone to run on a Z80. The speech was done using LPC coding, which cost $1,000 per word to compress at that time. The game also originally had a monochrome monitor, but when Defender was released in color, the company re-considered their display approach and re-designed the display using a color overlay board.


Stern released an 8-way joystick replacement kit since many of the original optical sticks failed on these machines.


  1. Berzerk
  2. Frenzy


Foto-Finder® (Books)

  1. The Encyclopedia of Arcade Video Games Kurtz (ISBN 0764319256) Page: 94; Color photo Price guide: No
  2. Arcade Fever Sellers (ISBN 0762409371) Page: 44; Color photo
  3. Encyclopedia of Arcade Video Games Kurtz (ISBN 0764319256) Page: 94; Color photo

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