The Game: You’re back in the maze, but this time, the stakes are increased, the danger is increased, and your strategic options are only slightly increased. Touching the walls, the robots, the robots’ laser blasts, or even your own ricocheted lasers are deadly. And of course, the inevitable appearance by Evil Otto is also deadly. However, you can temporarily repel the smiley little bugger by blasting him until his grin turns into the frown – but he will reappear mere seconds later, moving much faster every time he must retreat and reappear – so you’re not doing yourself any favors. If you enter a generator room, you can halt all the robots in their tracks by penetrating the walls surrounding the generator and blasting it. “Beaded” walls can be eaten away, bit by bit, by laser fire from anyone who shoots it, while solid walls will ricochet lasers around until they hit something – which could mean a death trap for you. (Stern, 1982)
Memories: I can’t even begin to estimate how many orders of magnitude harder Frenzy is than its inspiration, Stern’s mega-hit Berzerk. There are many times when you have approximately a second – before the characters on the screen begin moving – to assess your strategic situation, which usually isn’t too promising, often placing you in a triangulation of crossfire from three or four different robots that you haven’t even begun to figure out how to reach.
Frenzy has a lot more subtlety than Berzerk, both graphically and strategically. Many times, your ass hangs in the balance on the perfect execution of a diagonal ricochet shot to get a robot who has a much clearer, more precise shot at you. And in one particularly menacing screen, a walled-in smiley face which appears to be a king-sized Evil Otto has no expression …unless you get killed on that screen, which makes it smile. Creepy!
Though Atari grabbed the rights to create an outstanding home version of Berzerk for its Atari 2600 console, Coleco snapped up the rights to Frenzy, translating it into ColecoVision form. Despite advertising material promising other upcoming versions, however, Coleco didn’t turn out a Frenzy cartridge for any other platforms.