An undisputed classic from the golden age of the arcades, Berzerk deserves better than this limp Recharged offering from Atari. When my 2600 cart offers more options and variety, I must question how this reimagining hopes to reach a high score. It may be fine enough as a new game (in short stretches), but as a Berzerk revival, it’s subpar.

This update feels pretty darn different, with a twin-stick setup. It’s not inherently poor (I enjoy plenty of twin-stick shooters), but calling this Berzerk is a stretch right out of the gate, gameplay-wise. Those old enough to have played Berzerk in the arcade or on the VCS are used to a single joystick, which gave the game a challenge and style that’s missing here. Yes, Berzerk Recharged retains the single-screen maze-like layouts, with plenty of robot heavies to shoot. And Evil Otto is still a smiling/invulnerable looming threat. I saw him much earlier and more often than I expected.

The Rechared staples are here, but is that a good thing? Single life setups. Missions that are mostly the same (“Destroy all enemies”). Music that’s good but overly familiar. Power-ups that are decent but don’t add much substance. Settings for new (admittedly welcome) features like inverted controls, leaderboards,  and vibration, but not for game variations from 30-plus years ago. At the risk of repeating myself from early reviews of Recharged games, if you’re going to revive a classic, don’t try to hide what made it a classic from the outset.

Berzerk: Recharged lacks the one-more-time vibe of the original. I should’ve busted this review out weeks ago, except for my struggles to play it for more than a few minutes at a time. I should stress that while Atari has let the PN team down with the Rechared series more often than not (except David), high-score chasers who don’t know these original classics will enjoy them more. The same is true with Berzerk. So, if you want to view the PN team as “old men yelling at clouds,”  that’s fair enough.

I’ve genuinely attempted to click with Berzerk: Recharged (and the Recharged series overall). But, after many weeks, it’s clear I never will. This game doesn’t deliver what it promises, which is a “revival of an arcade classic.” Not only does it not feel like the original, but it’s missing many of the options and variety offered by the classic home port. Players who never experienced Berzerk in the ’80s will enjoy the shallow twin-stick shooting of this reimagined take for a time, at least (even more so when playing with a friend), but this is an average game at best. Atari’s curious approach with the Recharged series continues for better or worse, and it’s increasingly leading towards the latter. Evil Otto is smiling, but I’m not.