Berzerk is a multi-directional shooter video arcade game, released in 1980 by Stern Electronics of Chicago, designed by Alan McNeil.
Alan McNeil, an employee of Universal Research Laboratories (a division of Stern Electronics), had a dream one night involving a black-and-white video game in which he had to fight robots. This dream, with heavy borrowing from the BASIC game Robots (Daleks in the UK), was the basis for Berzerk, which was named for Fred Saberhagen’s Berserker series of science fiction novels.
“Evil Otto” was named after Dave Otto, security chief at McNeil’s former employer Dave Nutting Associates. According to McNeil, Otto would smile while he chewed you out. He would also lock McNeil and his fellow employees out of the building to enforce a noon-hour lunch, as well as piping “beautiful” music into every room.
Berzerk is notably one of the first video games to use speech synthesis, featuring talking robots. In 1980, computer voice compression was extremely expensive—estimates were that this cost the manufacturer US$1,000 per word; the English version had a thirty-word vocabulary. Stern nevertheless did not spare this expense.
There is also random robot chatter playing in the background, phrases usually consisting of “Charge”, “Attack”, “Kill”, “Destroy”, “Shoot”, or “Get”, followed by “The Humanoid”, “The intruder”, “it”, or “the chicken” (the last only if the player got the “Chicken, fight like a robot” message from the previous room), creating sentences such as “Attack it”, “Get the Humanoid”, “Destroy the intruder”, “Kill the chicken”, and so on. The speed and pitch of the phrases vary, from deep and slow, to high and fast.