Tag Archives: Atari

Evolution Of F1 Games 1974 – 2020

Formula 1 as a sport turns seventy years old this year. That’s quite a momentous occasion to celebrate. I used to be a huge F1 fan, mainly through the eighties and nineties with Ayrton Senna being my favourite driver. Then, the blackest race weekend that was Imola  94 happened and for me, F1 died. Still, I’ve always enjoyed playing F1 games even if I really don’t follow the sport itself much anymore.

So I thought, to celebrate seventy years of Formula 1, that I would look at how F1 games have evolved through the years. From the first ever F1 game right up to the latest in 2020. Now, I’m not going to cover every single F1 game as there’s quite a lot of them and when you get into the latter games, they’re really just yearly updates. But I will be looking at some of the more notable F1 games to see how they’ve changed over the decades. Plus, a lot of the early games may not have been officially F1 licensed, but it’s very clear they were definitely F1 influenced. There will be links aplenty to gameplay footage of many of the games, a big thanks to the various YouTubers who complied the gameplay.

So anyway, here we go on an F1 trip through gaming, spanning six decades.

BORN 1950

The first ever Formula One race was held in 1950 at the famed Silverstone circuit. Italian driver, Emilio Giuseppe Farina would go in to be crowned the first official F1 World Champion. I don’t have to go back to the fifties (especially as video games didn’t exist then) for the first ever F1 game, but what could be considered the first F1 themed game is still very early in gaming history.

The Seventies

1972’s Pong is often considered the first ‘proper’ video game. It’s certainly the one game that kick-started the whole arcade and video game revolution in those early days. Back then, gaming was in its infancy and games were very simple. Perhaps the first F1-ish game could be Speed Race from 1974.

SPEED RACE

Developed and released by Tatio in Japan (Midway in the US where it was called Wheels), Speed Race offered some very simple gameplay. You controlled an F1-like car on a fast vertically scrolling road. Given just ninety seconds to make it as far along the road as you could. Along the way, you’d have to weave in and out of other racers. The arcade cabinet itself was a stand up thing with a steering wheel, simple hi-low gears and an accelerator peddle. The game itself was very basic and may not have offered much in the way of F1 thrills, but it’s cabinet design screamed F1. I believe that Speed Race was also the first ever vertically scrolling video game.

Also from 1974 was Gran Trak 10, developed and published by Atari. This wasn’t scrolling like the previous game, but instead had you racing around a single screen track. Gran Trak 10 was a bit more in-depth compared to Speed Race. It was another stand up cabinet with peddles to accelerate and break, but this one offered multiple gears, including a reverse. There was only one track available in the game and you had to race through checkpoints to extend your limited time. Do as many laps of the track as possible before the time runs out.

A lot of those early seventies racers followed a similar gameplay style. Simple weave in and out of traffic, or complete laps within a time limit. Titles such as Sprint 2 (it wasn’t a sequel, the number just reflected the number of players) was the first in a long running franchise Night Driver and F-1 were further early examples of such games with similar ideas. The latter using a unique miniature diorama and projector system to create the illusion of racing over standard graphics. But it was perhaps Sega’s Monaco GP from 1979 which could be considered the first ‘proper’ F1 game.

MONACO GP

Where as the previous games mentioned may have had an F1 art style to the cabinet with some F1 questionable influence, Monaco GP was unmistakably Formula 1… mostly. This one played very similar to Tatio’s Speed Race, it just had fancier graphics and a few new gameplay additions like night driving, ice roads, etc, all those things not seen in Formula 1 . Still with that vertical scrolling, race against time thing while dodging other cars. It certainly wasn’t a revolution in gameplay, but it was definitely trying to engage the F1 fans of the day. I mean, it was called Monaco GP, named after one of the most popular and famous races in F1 history. Plus, once again the cabinet was F1 themed especially the sit-down version.

The Eighties

If the seventies was the infancy of the Formula 1 game, then the eighties were its teenage years. The first few eighties F1 games still carried the same ideas and concepts from the seventies, not too much evolution really going on. Then 1982 happened and Namco released Pole Position. Just reading that title should spark off memories of many an older gamer and if it didn’t, this screenshot will:

POLE POSITION

Pole Position was perhaps the defining Formula 1 game of the eighties. Playing from a third person perspective, you raced around a (for the time) accurate recreation of the F1 Fuji racetrack. Before you could race, you’d have to ‘prepare to qualify’, as the digitised speech would tell you. Put in a good time for a lap and then it was on to the actual race. Here it was you against several CPU controlled opponents in a championship race. Overtake other cars, try not to explode by crashing into billboards and come first. Pole Position was the first F1 game to depict a real race track and also the first to feature a qualifying session and actual racing instead of just overtaking endless opponents. The following year in 1983 and Namco followed up with Pole Position II. Very much more of the same with some minor graphical refinements. Plus it added three more tracks, taking the total to four. Though the gameplay between the two games was identical.

By now, and thanks to the success of Namco’s two Pole Position titles, F1 racers were fast becoming hugely popular in the arcade and even at home. The rise of cheaper hardware saw consoles and computers in the abodes of avid gamers around the world. 1983’s Chequered Flag for the ZX Spectrum was an early example of a F1 simulator. You got to chose from three F1 cars, two called Ferretti and McFaster (Ferrari and McLaren) and race around six representations of real F1 tracks and four fictional circuits. There were no other cars to race against, just you trying to put in fast laps… oh and you had to avoid on-track hazards like oil slicks and broken glass, just like real F1? Chequered Flag also featured a pit-stop game mechanic, the first game to feature pit-stops where you could repair and refuel your car.

Grand Prix Manager from 1984 on the ZX Spectrum was the first ever F1 management game. Putting you in charge of a Formula 1 team. Chose your difficulty, number of races, sponsor, driver, hire mechanics and then it’s away you go. You have to keep an eye on your team, the car, drivers as you advance through the season. Grand Prix Manager was basic, very basic stuff, but it did the job well enough, for the first ever F1 management title.

GRAND PRIX MANAGER

By the mid eighties, there was a great mix of arcade style racers, more simulation style F1 games and even a few hybrids of the two. Atari released Super Sprint in 1986, a sequel to their long running Sprint franchise. 1985’s Formula 1 Simulator, despite it’s name, was less a simulator and more a Pole Position clone for the home market, even though Pole Position saw several home ports. Pitstop and Pitstop II (1983 and 84 respectively) offered some simple but fun F1 action for home computers. The latter of the two, me and my brothers spent many an hour on racing each other on our Commodore 64.

The late eighties began to see the rise of the officially licensed Formula 1 games. Satoru Nakajima F-1 Hero for the Famicom from 1988 was one of the first licensed F1 games. It saw a release outside of Japan on the NES as Michael Andretti’s World GP, which actually made little sense as Michael Andretti wasn’t an F1 driver, he raced in IndyCar. Though he did eventually race in F1 for the 1993 season. Anyway, the game was one of the first to offer a playable full F1 season, complete with all the real races and ‘drivers’… though pseudonyms were used. Then there was Nigel Mansell’s Grand Prix for home computers from 1988. This one was much more simulation-like and even allowed you to try full race distances. It also offered recreations all of the sixteen Formula 1 circuits of the time.

FINAL LAP

Arcade titles such as 1987’s Continental Circus and Final Lap, 1988’s F-1 Dream and 1989’s Super Monaco GP (the sequel to the Sega classic Monaco GP from 1979) began to push just what arcade games could really do. Buttery smooth and fast gameplay with exciting race action to boot. But then, as the eighties began to end, a real game changer was released. Namco had already established themselves a great arcade racer developers, but in 1988, they unleashed a genuine beast of a game. Winning Run was was a revelation in arcade racers, F1 themed sure, but it was the titles amazingly impressive 3D shaded polygon graphics that really blew people away. Giving you a choice of two difficulties (cars) but only one track. You have to complete a qualifying lap before going up against twelve other racers to fight for first place. Winning Run opened the doors for 3D polygon racers, both in the arcade and at home.

The Nineties

Well this is it, the decade where Formula 1 game really took hold and began to show just how good they could be.  There were more F1 games released in the nineties than any other decade. The arcade format began to grow a little tired of the Formula 1 racers and started to look at other racing disciplines for games to be based on, but the home market was a very different story, you could hardly move for F1 themed games for home consoles and computers. It was 1991 when one of the finest Formula 1 games ever was released with Formula One Grand Prix.

F1GP

At the time, Formula One Grand Prix, from game designer Geoff Crammond was THE definitive F1 game for home computers. Its impressive 3D graphics were highly detailed for the time and the game offered a very, very in-depth, simulation representation of the 1991 season. Though the game was not officially licenced by the FIA, Geoff still made the game as authentic as he could. All the correct tracks were there and so were the drivers and cars… kind of. The driver helmets and car liveries were in the game, but the names were not. However, Geoff was smart enough to add an editing tool in the game so you could change the names with ease. There is so much I could write on this one F1 game alone (like it’s online and modding community that still exits) that this article would go on for days and I have so much more to cover… like this game’s sequels. But I will finish by adding that this game was the one that not only got me into racing some, but also F1 as a sport much more deeply. Yeah I watched and enjoyed F1 before this, but it was all the car set-ups, track info, etc from this game thatmade me want to understand the sport more.

Two of the biggest F1 drivers in the sport of the era got in on the whole licensing thing in 1992 when they had games released bearing their names and likenesses. Nigel Mansell’s World Championship Racing saw you able to play a full F1 1992 season as the mustachioed one himself. This was much more arcade-like but still offered things like pit-stops, minor car set-ups, tyre choices and the like. Even the greatest racing driver of all time ever got in on the action with Ayrton Senna’s Super Monaco GP II from Sega, a licensed version of their long running F1 series of games. This one was based on the 1991 season and Ayrton himself even helped with the development of the game. He not only allowed the use of his likeness, but Ayrton pops up though the championship offering you driving advice and tips for each track, all of which was written by the man himself. Plus he helped with how the cars should handle and even designed two fictitious tracks for the player to drive on, Ayrton even had a few voice samples in the game too.

SENNA SUPER MONACO GP II

There really were a slew of Formula 1 games in the early nineties, they were everywhere. Titles like F1 Pole Position, F1 Hero MD, Formula One World Championship: Beyond the Limit, F-1 Sensation (which was actually fully FIA licenced), F1 Grand Prix: Nakajima Satoru, F1 Circus Special: Pole To Win to name just a few, were all released between 1990 and 1994. I just need to give special mention to F-1 Grand Prix Part III from 1994 on the SNES. One of my favourite F1 games on any console at the time as it melded a really great racing game with some light management elements, allowing you to create your own F1 team.  But 1995 saw Geoff Crammond return and vastly improve on F1 game when he released the sequel, Grand Prix 2… only this time, fully licenced by the FIA. All the races, drivers (with the exception of Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger for obvious reasons), and teams for the 1994 Formula 1 season were wonderfully recreated and the simulation feel of the previous game was exceed ten-fold.

But it wasn’t all about heart pumping racing as Grand Prix Manager and Grand Prix Manager 2 saw releases in 1995 and 1996 respectively. Two very good and solid F1 management games full of options and variables as you take your chosen F1 team onto victory over a ten year career. To be honest, the games do feature some very questionable AI and overall simplistic gameplay, not exactly in-depth for management games, but still offered some good gameplay along the way.

GP MANAGER 2

1996 saw the release of Formula 1. Perhaps one of the most important F1 games to ever be made. This was the genesis of the F1 games we have today. Formula 1 featured the most accurate representation of the sport to date at the time. Fully licenced cars and drivers, tracks designed using actual real-life data and telemetry, TV style presentation including Tag Heuer timings. It even had commentary from the legend that was Murray Walker. This wasn’t quite as simulation heavy as Geoff Crammond’s games, but it was the first F1 game to get the whole feel and presentation of the sport right.

Formula 1 as a sport already had a rich history worth exploring in the nineties, and one game broke from the norm of trying to make the most recent season the star of the game. 1998’s Grand Prix Legends took the sport back to the sixties, in particular, the 1967 Formula 1 season. The tracks were tighter, the cars didn’t have the safety features and the sport on the whole was far more dangerous an this game tried to capture that. A full on simulation of what it would’ve been like to drive and F1 car back then, Grand Prix Legends was brutally realistic, a trait that turned many gamers off and the title didn’t sell well. But it is a game sim fans look back on with fondness.

GP LEGENDS

As the nineties came to and end, the F1 games did not. F-1 World Grand Prix, Formula One 99, Monaco Grand Prix: Racing Simulation 2, Grand Prix World and Official Formula One Racing were all released in the last coupe of years of the decade. And believe me, I’ve not even covered half of the F1 games released in this decade.

The Two-Thousands

As the next century began, F1 licenses became more strict and the games began to thin out in an quality over quantity kind of way. That’s not to say there still wasn’t a good few F1 games released. Kicking things of right was that man again, Geoff Crammond, with the third of his brilliant F1 games.

Grand Prix 3 followed the 1998 season. Yes, that is two years out of date. Though it was given an update in 2001 for the 2000 season via an expansion pack. Much like Geoff Crammond’s previous F1 titles, this one once more offered a fantastic racing experience and some in-depth simulation options. Electronic Arts got in on the F1 act using their famed EA Sports (it’s in the game) label, releasing multiple titles.  F1 2000, F1 Championship Season 2000, F1 Manager, F1 2001, F1 2002 and F1 Career Challenge all offered a more acradey feel to the racing over a deep simulation. Except for F1 Manager which was obviously a management game.

F1 Championship Season-2000

Grand Prix Challenge from Infogrames was a decent attempt at an F1 title, though it strived to be more simulation-like, it never really felt like it. Williams F1 Team Driver from 2001 put you in the driver’s seat of a young driver trying to make it into F1. Starting out in  go karts before Formula 1600cc, Formula 3, and finally onto Formula 1. An interesting title that was doing things a bit different from the usual Formula 1 games a the time, but overall, it was pretty disappointing. 2002 saw Geoff Crammond release his final F1 game with Grand Prix 4. This was pretty much more of the same from Geoff, still a good F1 racer indeed. But the problem was that other games on the market were beginning to get better and better, meaning these, once standout games no longer stood-out.

Formula One Arcade

Formula One Arcade from 2001 did exactly what the title suggested. It was a much more arcade-like game wrapped up in the official F1 licence. As far away from a simulation as you could get as the races featured power-ups like speed-boots, large high-grip tyres and even shields. This was all about high-octane, OTT racing.

By 2004, F1 games started to just became yearly update affairs. Sony secured the official F1 licence back in 1996 and made plenty of games from it too. Fourteen games in total released between 1996 and 2007. Other studios made F1 games, sure, but by the mid 2000s, Sony monopolised the market. Then in 2008, Codemasters were the ones to pick up the licence, though they didn’t use it proper until the next decade. There were still a very small handful of Formula 1 games released. For instance, F1 2009 was published by Codemasters, but developed by Sumo Digital. It was in 2010 when Codemasters released and developed their first Formula 1 title.

The Twenty-Tens And Twenty-Twenties

Yup, from this decade onward, Codemasters had exclusive rights to the official F1 licence. Meaning only they could release ‘proper’ F1 games. I don’t think it’s really worth going into all of their titles as they are basically yearly updates over the previous game. From F1 2010 to the most recent F1 2020, Codmasters have given us a decade of solid F1 simulations. Their F1 games over the last ten years have been great and easily offer the best Formula 1 racing around. All fully licenced with all the tracks and drivers representative of their respective years. I reviewed the most recent game only a few weeks back too.

F1 Race Stars

Codemasters did release a little curiosity of an F1 game back in 2012 that wasn’t part of their F1 sim games. F1 Race Stars was a more kart-racing-style arcade game, Full of power-ups, weapons and crazy track layouts that included jumps and even loops. Far and away from the simulation games, F1 Race Stars was actually really good fun and it even featured the official FIA licence too. Yup, you could drive as any of the twelve teams and twenty-four drivers from the 2012 season around OTT tracks inspired by the real circuits.

Other games have offered F1-like racing in some of their games. Rockstar introduced F1-style cars and races in GTA Online and the Forza Motorsport series has also included  Formula 1 cars and tracks. As too does the Assetto Corsa franchise. Though in these cases, they are either fictional cars or historical ones due to Codemasters having exclusive rights to the current F1 season.


And so, that’s pretty much it. Formula 1 games from the dawn of the sub-genre in 1972 right up to today in 2020. From simple arcade racers to more in-depth, realistic simulations and even management titles. F1 has seen a real evolution in terms of games that has spanned six decades. As much as I love the Codemasters F1 sims, it’s a shame they have exclusivity over the licence. I’d like to see more studios making F1 games like back in the eighties and nineties. I’d like to see more variation on the sport too instead of these yearly updates. Codemasters’ own F1 Race Stars was good fun and showed you don’t have to always make 100% serious Formula 1 titles.

I’d love to see more historic F1 games. Why not relive the career of a legend like Ayrton Senna or Michael Schumacher? Start out in karts, before moving through the ranks of the  Formula Ford 1600 Championships, Formula 3 before moving into F1? There could be a real-life comparison kind of thing where the actual career of Senna/Schumacher is going on in the background and you have to try your best to match it. I’d like to see more F1 management games, a sub-genre greatly underused. I’d like to see more acradey-like games and so on, titles that push the imagination of F1 beyond the simulation genre. There’s so much scope to be had with the sport, yet all we are getting are yearly updates of (admittedly) great F1 sims and cameo roles in other driving games.

Have You Stayed With Atari Today?

I tend not to cover news on this blog, I usually stick with opinion pieces, histories and sharing memories, etc. But a slice of news has surfaced today that made me chuckle a little that I felt I had to quickly cover.

When it comes to big names in gaming, Atari were one of the biggest. The grandfather of gaming to most people and the company the defined home gaming with their brand of consoles, going back to 1977’s iconic Atari 2600. I think it would be fair to say that Atari as a company have had a very chequered past. I mean, they were central in the infamous video game crash of 1983.

The company has died, been reborn and swapped hands so many times over the years that I’m really not sure who own the name anymore. A new console, the Atari VCS is said to be released this year, but that’s not what I want to cover here. I’m going to look at the Atari hotels… yes Atari hotels.

Atari Logo 2

It’s very recently been announced that Atari (whoever owns the name now) has teamed up with real estate developer True North Studio and GSD group to build eight Atari hotels around the U.S. The first is set to begin building in mid-2020 in Phoenix, Arizona… which given Atari’s rather ‘interesting’ connection to that particular place is kind of ironically amusing (see the previously mentioned video game crash of 1983).

The hotels will obviously be gaming related. They will be used to house the ever increasing in popularity e-sport events. Guests can expect VR experiences, interactions and games. Gaming related rooms utilising famed Atari IPs. All along with standard hotel facilities such as restaurants, bars, gyms and all the other stuff a hotel usually offers.

More sites for hotels are planned outside of the Phoenix one with Austin, Chicago, Denver, Las Vegas, San Francisco, San Jose, and Seattle all set to have their own Atari hotels built over the next few years.

Honestly, I love the sound of them, I’d love to stay in an Atari hotel and revisit my childhood as well as experience (what I hope will be) cutting edge gaming interactions and experiences. But there is serious doubt over of they will ever happen. I mean, there have been numerous stories of troubles in getting the new console made and ready for release. So if that’s been a bit of trouble, how will multiple, cutting edge gaming hotels work out?

I just hope they do happen and that they will have guest capacities of 2600, 2700, 5200 and 7800.

You can check out the official website right here. Plus here’s a few renders of what the hotels could look like…

Berzerk: The Killer Arcade Game?

So apparently, the classic 80s arcade game, Berzerk can kill people. It’s an urban legend that has been going on for a good few years now. It’s one of many urban legends related to gaming, a bit like the whole Polybius thing, the main difference being that there is no proof that Polybius even existed (it didn’t, it really didn’t). But Berzerk? Yeah it most definitely existed, people played it, lots of people, me included. But has it ever really killed anyone or been the basis for any deaths? Well that is the aim of this article, to explore the urban legend and get to the truth. But before I do get to that, perhaps an explanation as to what Berzerk is and the killer urban legend behind it.

The Game & Urban Legend

Released in 1980, designed and published by Stern Electronics and Atari. Berzerk has you playing as an unnamed human fighting his way though randomly generated mazes overrun with killer robots. The aim is to destroy all robots and move onto the next maze. It was simple enough gameplay, they all were back then. You can’t touch the walls of the maze or you’ll die you can’t touch the robots or you’ll die, you can’t get shot by the robots or you’ll die. The game featured early examples of synthesizer speech during gameplay… oh and it also featured Evil Otto, the source of the urban myth that the game could kill you.

Berzerk Screen

So here we go. Evil Otto is a character in Berzerk who appears when you spend too much time on one maze, deigned to keep you the player moving and the pace of the game high. Evil Otto is the only character in the game who is invincible, so you can’t kill him. He can also move through the walls of the maze, making avoiding him difficult. If you touch him, or more accurately, him you… you die. I mean you die in the game, not in real life. Now the thing about Evil Otto is how cheerful he is. He’s a bright yellow smiley face that bounces around the screen. He’s not scary, he’s a happy chappy. Yet the whole urban legend of Berzerk centres around him. It had been suggested that if you get a high enough score and then get killed in-game by Evil Otto, then you die in real life.

Evil Otto

But is it true? No, of course it’s not. It’s an arcade game, it can’t kill you. But researching this subject has led me down a very interesting path and one I aim to take you down too. I think I’ll need to cover this in three sub-chapters. So here we go, the birth of the Berzerk urban legend and first, it’s most (in)famous kill…

Jeff Daily

Now it has been said that Jeff was the first victim of Berzerk. Often called the ‘666 death’ (here’s a Reddit that covers the death along with mentioning another I’ll cover next). Aged 19, Jeff of Virginia is said to have played the game in his local arcade for many hours where he achieved the high score of 16,660 on the 12th of January of 1981. After playing and getting his high score, it has been reported that Jeff suffered a major heart attack and died right there in the arcade. Several places reported on the Jeff’s now infamous Berzerk death at the time and still mention it today as the first video game known to have been involved in the death of someone. It’s a story that has spread over the years and had been reported on several times by many, many people.

Berzerk Screen 2

But there’s a few things that just don’t add up here. A high score of 16,660 is possible in the game… but it’s not really that high to be honest. Even an average gamer could get a score close to that, a better one could easily obliterate it. So for Jeff Daily to get that score after playing Berzerk (as reported) for many hours and on only one credit too seems unlikely as you could get that kind of score in a few minutes. Plus the 666 in the middle of the score is awfully convenient, not impossible as each robot destroyed in the game gives you 50 points with a bonus of 10 points per robot if all are destroyed in one maze. So with a scoring system like that, a nice round score of 16,660 is mathematically possible, but it’s just very convenient and unlikely to have 666 in the middle when talking about a death related to it.

Then there is another thing I uncovered while researching this story. A Jeff Daily from Virginia did indeed die aged 19 in 1981, that’s true I even looked into it. Using familysearch.org (you need a membership) I found this information…

First Name: Jeffrey
Middle Name: NA
Last Name: Dailey
Name Suffix: NA
Birth Date: 16 January 1962
Social Security Number: 225-94-5973
Place Of Issuance: Virginia
Last Residence: NA
Zip Code Of Last Residence: NA
Death Date: May 1981
Estimated Age At Death: 19

So yeah, there was a Jeff Daily or at least a Jeffrey Dailey aged 19 who died in Virginia just as the urban legend has said for decades now.  But the death date doesn’t match up as Berzerk Jeff Daily was said to have died on the 12th of January, 1981. This Jeffrey Dailey died in May 1981… and this is the only Jeff/Jeffrey Daily/ Dailey from Virginia to die in 1981, I checked and double checked. Oh and Jeffrey Dailey was nowhere near an arcade or Berzerk when he died either, he died in a car crash and is buried in Holly Lawn Cemetery in Suffolk City, Virginia. Again, I checked.

So there is zero evidence to suggest that anyone called Jeff Daily, aged 19 from Virginia died after playing Berzerk. Zero, zilch, nadda, nowt, nothing. I can find nothing to prove the story is true, not even a mention in a local newspaper. So that’s it then, the end of the urban legend with it’s most famous story shot down… only it’s not because at least two people did actually die after playing Berzerk, not fictional made up people with similar names to someone else who died. But real people.

Peter Bukowski

The 3rd of April, 1982, Peter Bukowski aged 18 of South Holland, Illinois went into Friar Tuck’s Game Room to play some video games. Just like most teens caught up in those early days of video games, Peter quickly became a fan. He was instantly drawn to Berzerk and dropped a few coins into the machine. He played a couple of games and got himself a high score too, he put his initials into the game and decided to play another game. Once more, he got a high score and once more he put his initials in. Proud of his gaming achievement, he stepped away from the game, turned around and took a few more steps before collapsing. One of the workers at the arcade rushed over and began to preform CPR while an ambulance was called. Peter was rushed to hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival. It was later revealed that Peter Bukowski suffered from a previously undiagnosed heart condition called Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Dysplasia and he had even suffered a mild, unnoticed heart attack a few weeks previously.

Peter had walked to the arcade after visiting both a couple friends and his girlfriend, a round trip of just over four miles. It had also been snowing which made the walk more difficult. All this excursion is thought to have aggravated his then unknown heart condition. Even friends he was with at the time noticed he was short of breath by the time they all arrived at the arcade. So yeah, that is one death after paying Berzerk, but it wasn’t Evil Otto that killed Peter, it was his unknown heart condition.

Here are a few clippings from various sources who, at time, reported on Peter’s death…

Berzerk Death

Berzerk Death 2

Gaming mag

Edward Clark Jr

Then six years later another Berzerk linked death occurred with a very strange coincidence. It was the 20th of March, 1988 when Edward Clark Jr aged 17 walked into Friar Tuck’s Game Room… the very same arcade that Peter Bukowski was in when he died in 1982. Edward and his friends walked around the arcade looking to find some games to play. They spotted the Berzerk arcade machine… the exact same one that Peter Bukowski played just before he died. Sitting on the cabinet were a few coins that someone seemingly had left there. So Edward took one of the coins and put it into the Berzerk game and played. This was when Pedro Roberts, 16 stepped forward and claimed that the money was his and that Edward now owed him for the coin he had just spent.

Threats were made between the two teens and an argument began before a fight broke out. A staff member had to separate the brawling teenagers and decided to kick them both out to avoid any more trouble. Knowing kicking them both out at the same time would be a bad idea, the staff member told Pedro Roberts to leave first and then waited around ten minuted or so before ordering Edward Clark to leave and telling him to walk the opposite way that Pedro had gone earlier… advice Edward didn’t take.

Edward and his friends walked along the street and though a car park, but they didn’t know that Pedro had been hiding in an alley waiting. As Edward and his friends strolled past, Pedro jumped out from his hiding spot rushed toward his victim and plunged a knife into his chest. Edward Clark was bundled into the back of his friend’s car and driven to the hospital but he died shorty after arrival. Pedro Roberts was convicted of the murder in 1990 and was sentenced to an eleven year prison sentence. I apologise in advance for the poor quality image coming up, it’s the best I could find…

Clark Murder.jpg


Berzerk TShirt

So there you have it, the truth about Berzerk: The Killer Arcade Game. Truth is the game never killed anyone directly. The most famous related death, the one that kick started the whole urban legend didn’t even happen. The other two indirect deaths were linked to a heart condition and a petty fight over a coin. It’s more than safe to play Berzerk, I have many times.

Next in my Halloween special. A look at a supposed film curse

RollerCoaster Tycoon

RollerCoaster TycoonTitle Screen

Little Bit of History:  Released in 1999 for PC – RollerCoaster Tycoon is a construction and management simulation based in numerous theme parks. Designed and programmed by Chris Sawyer.

Little Bit of Plot/Story: No real ‘plot’ to talk of here – you are just given a chunk of land, some cash and the research team to help you develop, design and build your very own theme park. Build rides, attractions, shops and coasters. You can even design and create genre specific scenery and rides, you want a horror, cowboy, space theme along with various others? Well you can  – make enough money and meet mission requirements so you can move onto the next park. You can even download fan made content and parks/rides, some based on world famous attractions from around the world. You can create your very own Disney World.

Little Bit of Character: There are no characters in the game – just random customers who will enter your park looking to be entertained and amused. Though you can rename any of the characters to whatever you like, so you can name your punters after your friends and family… then make then throw up after going on crazy coasters.

RollerCoaster Tycoon

Little Bit of Influence: RollerCoaster Tycoon was not the first game in this genre – but it was the best of the lot (until the sequel). It went on to become a successful franchise with four main games and several spin-offs.

Little Bit of Memories: It was my older brother, Rob who first introduced me to this game and I admit, at the time, I was not too impressed with it. I just found it slow, dull and uninteresting. But the more I played, the more RollerCoaster Tycoon grew on me – as I learned the building mechanic, as I became more familiar with the micro managing – I soon found myself becoming a big fan and before I knew it, I’d sunk hundreds of hours into this game creating some of the most insane theme parks and roller coasters ever created.

Little Bit of Playability: RollerCoaster Tycoon is just as playable now as it was eighteen years ago. I still enjoy losing myself in its charm and deep management gameplay. Though I much prefer RollerCoaster Tycoon 2 over the original, it still holds a special place in my gaming heart. If you like theme parks, roller coasters and games – you’ll not find a better place to quench your thirst than RollerCoaster Tycoon and its sequel… and to a slightly lesser extent the third game – but stop after that, you’ll thank me later.

RollerCoaster Tycoon Box

I love roller coasters and theme parks so much that I have decided to start my own theme park blog; 0 to 4gs. Its early days yet as I’m tinkering with the style, etc – but feel free to check it out – more content coming soon.

“I’m Batman”, Part II

I’m still Batman.

Welcome back to part II of my retrospective look at the Batman games I grew up playing and even still play today.
We left off with one of the all time classic and best NES games, Batman: The Videogame, which was inspired by the Tim Burton film. But the NES game was not the last game based on the movie.

Batman arcade

Batman: This one was an arcade only game released in 1990. Developed by Numega and published by Atari Games.
This was a simple scrolling beat em’ up and featured scenes based on the 1989 movie as well as stages where you use the Batmobile and Batwing. The game also used voices and images taken directly from the movie as well as featuring Danny Elfman’s amazing Batman score.
With you playing as Batman patrolling the streets of Gotham trying to stop The Joker.

The game was shallow and repetitive…but it was also good mindless fun. It’s an arcade game and designed to eat up your loose change.

Batman arcade 2

For a scrolling beat em’ up, this was not a bad one at all. Not a great game, but it was good enough to warrant a play or several. Followed the film fairly closely too and was interspersed with scenes taken directly from the film.

As we leave Tim Burton’s Batman inspired games behind, Sunsoft just could not wait for the next film for their next Batman game.

Batman 2 Nes

Batman: Return of the Joker: The sequel to the NES Batman game that was based on the 1989 film. But this sequel NES game released in 1991 was made before the official Batman Returns movie sequel. (confused yet?)
Again Developed and published by Sunsoft.
There were various versions of this game released on other formats that all slightly differed from version to version, but it’s only the NES one I played.

Joker escapes Arkham Asylum and you playing as Batman having to survive through several side scrolling levels set in and around Gotham City. Batman is only equipped with a “Batgun” that fires various, selectable projectiles.

Batman 2 nes 2

I didn’t find this one as enjoyable as the previous NES Batman game, it just did not have the same feel. This one felt more like a scrolling shoot em’ up. It’s was not a bad game at all…just not as good as the previous one. Still as it was from Sunsoft, you can again expect some great music. Worth a look.

Next up we get an official game based on Tim Burton’s sequel film; Batman Returns.

Batman R

Batman Returns: Again, there were various version of this title. But I’m going for the SNES version for this retrospective as it was really damn good. Released in 1993, developed and published by Konami for the SNES.

Batman Returns was a scrolling beat em’ up with some really great little touches to add a lot of depth to this fairly shallow genre. Massively redundant and mindless…but it was also an awesome and satisfying experience.
Based on the film of the same name from Tim Burton, the game followed the film really well with you playing as Batman having to save Gotham City from Catwoman and the Penguin. The game also featured a stage where you get to use the Batmobile.

Very well received at the time and still fondly remembered as a great title.

Batman R 2

Simple in its style, but full of great little features and details. Like being able to grab 2 henchmen at once and smash their heads together (see above image), or being able to throw enemies into the background smashing windows and denting lampposts, etc. The game followed the film really well and was intercut with amazing cutscenes with written dialogue taken right from the film as well as using Danny Elfman’s infamous Batman score to great effect.
Another thing that I always remember is how you could save Selina Kyle in the game just like in the film…”you missed.”
Well worth playing through if you can.

I’m going to stick with the SNES for my next pick of Batman games, this time based on the animated TV series.

Batman animated

The Adventures of Batman & Robin: Was an action/platformer released in 1994 for the SNES. Developed and published by Konami and based on the critically acclaimed Batman: The Animated Series.

You to play as Batman with Robin only appearing in cutscenes. Each level was based on one of the main villains with a rogues gallery like; The Joker, Poison Ivy, The Penguin, Catwoman, Two-Face, The Scarecrow, The Riddler, Clayface and even Man-Bat. Each level had it’s own flavour and style based on each of the villains which in turn was based on an episode of the TV show itself.

Batman animated 2

A really great game. Dark, moody and well animated…just like the TV show it was based on. As each level had it’s own villain based aesthetic and style. The game brought a great mix of gameplay styles that offered plenty of variation from simple beat em’ up to head scratching puzzles.

Next I’m going to tackle one of the worst Batman games ever made.

Batman forever

Batman Forever: Was Released in 1995 for the SNES, Sega Mega Drive, Sega Game Gear, Game Boy and PC. Developed by Probe Entertainment and published by Acclaim. Lets be honest, it does not matter which version I talk about as they were all really, really, really bad.

Based on the third film in the Batman series of the same name. This game has you playing as either Batman or Robin, or even Co-Op 2 player…if you can find anyone that would want to play this game.
This was a side scrolling beat em’ up with some of the worst controls ever made in a game. Sluggish combat inspired by Mortal Kombat, awkward gadget selection and usage. Even bad level design with little to no idea of where to go or what to do.

Batman forever 2

I really have nothing to say here. It’s a terrible game and should be avoided at all costs, not even worth playing just for curiosity sake.
Lets move on…

Still, there was more from Batman Forever yet.

Batman forever arcade

Batman Forever: The Arcade Game: Also based on the movie of the same name, but not the same game as the previous version. Developed by Iguana Entertainment, Published by Acclaim and released in 1996. This was an arcade game but later ported to the Sega Saturn, Windows and PlayStation.

This was another one of those redundant scrolling beat em’ ups, but unlike the last Batman Forever game. This one was actually pretty decent. It was another mindless button mashing game and allowed you to play Co-Op as Batman and Robin trying to stop The Riddler and Two-Face.

Batman forever arcade 2

Decent action romp with a pretty good combo system allowing you to do a 150+ hit combo on one enemy if you knew how. Plenty of powerups, weapons and gadgets to use along the way.
It is an inane button masher, but it still has some playability value in there and it’s far, far, far better than that previous Batman Forever game.
Worth a quick look.

So ends part II, but I will return in part III with the next Batman game based on the next Batman film. Same Batwebsite…yeah, I already did that one eh?

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