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|Rating:||1.5 out of 5|
Congo bongo is a much better game than showcased in the Atari 5200 version. It never reached much success as an arcade game, but this jungle-themed adventure was still ported to many home game consoles from the 2600 and Colecovision to Intellivision and Commodore 64. The Congo Bongo arcade version was release in 1983 and contained 4 screens that repeated with increasing difficulty. The Coleco version had 3 of the screens, but the 5200 contained only 2!
Everyone thought I was crazy, but I always thought Congo Bongo was similar to Zaxxon (a space-shooter also by Sega) from the similarity in perspective. Others thought Congo Bongo was a 3D Donkey Kong - OK they both have apes... um , what else? Most games either progressed up & down the screen or side-scrolled. The unique ¾ view in Zaxxon made you use your shadow and firing missiles to gage your course and determine the needed altitude to safely pass over walls and around obstacles. Congo Bongo had a similar ¾ viewpoint and simple arcade controls one jump button and a joystick. Despite this simplicity, there weren't any of the sort of cues you had in Zaxxon to judge perspective and proximity.
The Atari 5200 version botches the ¾ view making it nearly impossible to avoid the coconuts or jump on the 2nd level's various "platforms" (hippos, lily pads and fish). Basic navigation doesn't seem to line up in a logical manner. The color scheme doesn't help much as objects sometimes blend in more than they should. Aside from that, both Congo the gorilla and your character, the hunter look pretty good.
You play as a bold jungle hunter who is engaged in a safari when he meets his match in the form of a gorilla named Bongo. Unlike most deadly inhabitants of jungles, this gorilla has a mischievous side and sets your tent on fire. Vowing to seek revenge, you navigate through the game in search of Bongo.
From the arcade version, I was under the impression that the gorilla was named Bongo and he lives in the jungle, perhaps the Congo. The simple rythme makes an easily remembered title. The Atari 5200 seems to name the ape, Congo. I'm not sure what the actual facts are, but it seems that the lack of levels, drab colors and below-par game play indicate a rushed effort to plop this game on retail shelves. Nearly all other ports are vastly superior.
You can play Congo Bongo alone or as a 2-player game. You navigate with the joystick and have the ability to jump via the fire button. There are only 2 levels, each timed with a counter in the upper left corner. As time passes, the bonus decreases. If the bonus counter reaches zero, you lose a life.
You begin on Jungle Mountain, which resembles the first arcade level, with 3 lives. You lose a life if the time gets to ), you are hit by a coconut or fall off a cliff. the monkeys are benign on the first level, but can jump on your back in following levels. Jumping up & down 3 times without moving gets them off your back - no charge for the bad pun ;)
The second unique level is the Great River. Many have likened it to Frogger - again I have a problem with this analogy, but don't have a better one. Once you complete this level, you'll return to the first scene, but the difficulty will ramp up. You may find one or more monkeys on your back and the fish may all try to take a bite out of you.
Congo Bongo is a fun game, but this version doesn't do it justice. Seek another platform, even MAME to experience it the way it should be!
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