Written by UK-based coder Jon Williams and published in 1985 by CRL Group Ltd., Berks is an entertaining and challenging overhead shooter with colourful graphics. In some respects it is a tribute to Berzerk, but with more going on.
The basic aim of the game is to shoot a certain number of Berks per screen, while moving around – avoiding chasing enemies. The enemies in this case are coloured gems (not very inspiring), and they home in on you using rudimentary pathfinding, so often get stuck, which can be used to your advantage.
There are five skill levels (‘Duffer’ to ‘Master’) available. On the lowest skill level the chasing enemies are slow, and on the highest difficulty they are fast and ruthless. Higher difficulties also require more Berks to be shot.
What makes Berks a good game is the fact that the timings and mechanics are all well thought-out. Subtle stuff, like the time it takes for a shot Berk to disappear (around three seconds), has an effect on the gameplay. Also: subtle control system features, like the fact that your character stops moving when you fire, make it work very well.
Berks is a good game, but not a great game. Programmer/designer Williams continued the theme and feel of Berks successfully into other games, such as Major Blink, and also into sequels, such as Baby Berks and Berks 3.