Frenzy, Arcade

Frenzy is an arcade maze/shooter from 1982 that was developed and published by Stern Electronics. It is the sequel to the 1980 arcade game, Berzerk, and features similar presentation and gameplay.

In Frenzy, though, you can shoot through some walls (the walls made of dots), and also fire diagonally and bounce your shots off walls that are coloured white (which you can’t shoot through).

The aim of the game is to survive for as long as possible and to score as many points as you can, but there is no objective other than that, and there is no end to game, other than when you run out of lives.

The maze-like rooms are randomly-generated and change each time they are re-drawn (which includes after losing a life and re-starting), which means that the game is different every time you play it.

Like in Berzerk, if you stay in one room for too long a bouncing smiley face (called ‘Evil Otto‘) appears and begins to chase you. This face is indestructible and is basically the game telling you that it’s time to move on. If you’re able to. It is quite easy to find yourself trapped by Evil Otto and one life down, unless you react immediately and run away.

What is weird is that the game has ZX Spectrum-style colour clash, which means that the walls change colour if the main character walks near them. It makes you wonder if they used similar hardware under the hood… Graphically, Frenzy is basic, but the animated player character, and enemies, are pretty good, if lacking detail and colour.

Sound-wise, Frenzy does feature synthesised speech (“Robots attack!“; “The humanoid must not destroy the robots!“), which was very novel in 1982, and some fairly basic but effective laser-blasting and explosion sound effects. But not much else.

Frenzy is a tough game to master, and surviving for more than five minutes is an achievement, because the game increases in difficulty quickly and opponents start to shoot more often. It’s almost as though the game has been designed to take your money and kick you out in under ten minutes… But Frenzy is playable and fairly absorbing while it lasts. It is an interesting continuation of the concepts pioneered in Berzerk, with gameplay additions that make it stand out from its predecessor.

More: Frenzy on Wikipedia

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