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I Want to Hear Your Favourite Urban Legend

In 1980, Stern Electronics released an arcade game simply called "Berzek". In an upright cabinet standard for that era, with a color CRT and simple controls, the machine was guarded on it's sides by the image of two malignant robots, sporting a marquee with a metallic retro futuristic font spelling the name of the game, and an explosive bezel designed by an anonymous artist, with a peculiar style, characteristic of the late 70's DC comics.


Unlike many games of it's era, Berzerk was nowadays would be called a top down shooter, where a humanoid figure would shoot rays from it's arms at malevolent robots, all trapped in an electrified maze, where even a mere touch spelled certain death. If the player idled for more than a minute in the same screen, an accursed figure of a smiley face, bouncing from the left side in an maddening rhythm towards the player. This blasphemous foe, seemingly impervious to the death rays from the player, was simply called "Evil Otto".


One of the defining characteristics of this game for it's time, was the inclusion of several lines of "Robot Speech". Samples of synthesized voices with humorous likes like "Chicken! Fight like a robot" or the classic "Intruder Alert! Intruder Alert", along with a small selection of random words, were played at different times in different and hideous tones.

But these was 1980, and many of the electronic pieces comprising the complex and singular computer board powering the machine were created in the late 60's and early 70's. Back in a time where electronics were akin to magic and engineers with their electron guns would manually trace the microscopic paths of unholy connections like modern alchemists and mystic blacksmiths. Is it not possible then, that an extraneous connection could be made? An unutterable path where electrons opened an Stygian gate to a dark and demented beyond could be traced in an unspeakable mistake? After all, modern science has proven that the collisions of these minuscule particles can bring to existence other particles, seemingly out of nowhere. Or could it have been a sprite, a manipulation of the programing by eldritch forces, using the code, which similar to spells in books of forbidden knowledge, could cause a combination of words summoning furtive and loathsome entities.

From the first years of this machine, rumors abounded about it, first in playgrounds and schoolyards, then in those damnable alleys next to these places of vice and corruption called arcades; rumors which adults mostly discarded as byproduct of the febrile imaginations of kids. These rumors mainly dealt with the utterance of metallic voices not programmed in the game, sometimes including the name of the player, other times the mention of dates and places, usually related with tragic and bloody events.

It wasn't until June or July of 1981, and by that time these rumors regarding the voices had been discarded, or simply attributed to the coincidental programing of the machine, that a new challenge emerged between teenagers related to this daemonic contraption. A challenge that compelled them to survive as long as possible in the game by shooting the abhorrent creature, that demented smiley face of "Evil Otto".


The first reports of odd occurrences appeared on the July 12 issue of the █████████████ Tribune, where it is mentioned that during the evening of the previous day, a Berzerk machine installed at ██████████ arcade emitted a bloodcurdling scream while a group of teenagers were attempting the already mentioned challenge, causing the collapse and subsequent internment to a nearby hospital in an hysterical and, as described by a nurse, "Demonically possessed" state of the individual operating the machine at that moment.
On a curious note from one of the witnesses, he mentions that an instant before this happened, the smiley figure of "Evil Otto" turned into an angry and murderous frown.

It wasn't until late August of 1981 that the loathsome machine would claim it's first victim. ███████ ██████ of ███████, IL, was playing on the Berzerk machine, aiming every shoot at the bouncing smile, until, as witnesses explained, his face acquired an expression of terror, as if he had seen something so alien and unnamable, that it caused his body to become rigid, as if petrified, and all his vital functions to stop, as if stroke by lightning. Whatever the poor kid saw, he took it to the grave, but as in previous reports, witnesses claim the figure of "Evil Otto" frowned on the screen immediately before the decease.

Two other identical cases were reported, were individuals playing the challenge on this damnable electronic contraption, ended in their premature deaths, one of a 19 year old, and the last victim being a 21 year old. Afterwards the machine was recalled and replaced with newer and improved versions; versions which seemingly lacked the lurking evil that lay dormant inside the older ones, but which the manufacturer claimed were simply improvements in functionality, lest they be admitted in a asylum for the mere mention of unknown forces operating the devices from within.

But not all were recalled, and a few of the originals are still out there...

In the meantime, here is the game...

Shoot at "Evil Otto" all you want...but remember...if he might be the last thing you'll ever see...
greenmountaingal · 70-79, F
The late Art Bell would've loved doing one of his old radio shows on that story!
Peaches · F
WOW! That's scary! 😱

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