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My true story as I battle my inner demons and lose.

by Nathan - March 26, 2002

My days used to be filled with laughter, and sunlight. Now, I huddle in the darkened corner of my room, for I dare not go outside. No, never again; I cannot imagine the horrible things I might do to others...

How do I know I am a killer? To what can I attribute this sudden shift of character? One thing;


It all started out innocently enough. A friend of mine sold me a Colecovision, an Atari 2600, and a couple of games. The Colecovision turned out to be a Coleco Gemini, which is basically a smaller clone of the Atari, but that's a whole other story. While having some free time one evening I decided to give the Atari a whirl. I was going through the games, and was trying unsuccessfully to play them.

After losing quite badly to such classics as Missile Command, Donkey Kong Jr., and Yar's Revenge, I came upon Berzerk. I slapped it in and was presented with this.

So I hit a button and unknowingly began my descent into madness.

Of course, this being the first time I'd played it, I needed to take some time to figure out the mechanics of the game. I didn't have a manual and the internet was too far away to do any actual research, so I dove right in.

This happens to be you. Sure, the character design is somewhat simplistic, and you don't seem to have a neck, but come on. This was from a time when you didn't have fancy shmancy graphics and dolby surround sound, and you had to let your imagination fill in the blanks a little, like watching movies that have been edited for television.

You are equipped with a weapon of some sort that fires flesh colored bolts. This gun follows the classic Atari rule of "if you can still see your previous bullet on the screen, you can't shoot another one yet", but as an added bonus you can fire in eight different directions. Which is useful because you have to face down a lot of these guys:

The left image is from the game. The right image is an artist's interpretation of what the robots actually look like.

These are the evil nasty killer robots or whatever. It seems their sole purpose is to either run into you (and kill you) or shoot you (and kill you). Fortunately for you, they do not move terribly fast, and they only have the ability to shoot in four directions, as opposed to your far superior eight. Be careful, however - as you progress through the game they steadily become faster, and by extension, much more dangerous.

Both you and the robots have been tossed into what seems to be some sort of electrified maze. Why anyone would put an army of robots in a maze with electrical walls is beyond me, and why you're there too is even further beyond me. No matter. What's done is done, and somehow, you have to try fighting your way out.

So, after dying several times in a most entertaining fashion...

...I finally started getting the hang of the game. After awhile, I switched over to the rather superior Gemini controllers, and things were good. For a time, I thought 8000 points or so was a nice high score. One Sunday morning, however, everything just clicked.

I had suddenly evolved from some little pixelated guy tooling around an electric maze. I moved with purpose. 10,000 points. I was now swiftly and efficiently going from room to room, destroying all I saw. 20,000 points. The little counter that showed how many lives I had stopped at six, and I'd lost count myself. 30,000 points. Dying was nearly a traumatic experience; a harsh reminder that even I was not entirely immortal. Fortunately, due to the broken life counter, I could barely tell if I was losing or not. 40,000 points. My Deadly accurate bolts continued to defeat wave after wave of death-robots. There Was No Stopping Me.

So what did stop me? Well, actually, I sort of got bored. The robots don't get any faster after a certain point, and there's really only 5 or 6 different kinds of rooms.

So now, I cannot leave my room. I know that were I to re-enter normal civilization, the lines between fantasy and reality would be blurred to a point that I would probably lose it, and start trying to kill everyone in sight (but avoiding all walls like a plague.)

Oh wait, I just looked at the time. I gotta go to work.


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