Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Retro Game of the Day! Congo Bongo

Retro Game of the Day! Congo Bongo

Congo Bongo by Sega, released in the arcade in 1983.

Here we have what looks to be Sega's take on the Donkey Kong formula, the eternal struggle of Man vs. Ape (much could, and should, be written on this topic!) This game followed a couple of years behind DK, and technically it looks miles more advanced than the other - still, which game is the better contest?
Unlike DK, you have no damsels to be rescuing - apparently you're a typical jungle adventurer, who Congo Bongo (the namesake Ape) seems to enjoy torturing. So it's your mission to "get him!" Easier said than done, as each level has plenty of obstacles between you and your quarry, and he'll be tossing projectiles at you all the while.

Interestingly, the developer of this game has much in common with DK - in fact, there's a good chance that some of the same folks worked on both productions, though the answers are lost to time. The board is built on the same hardware that fellow isometric-view Sega game Zaxxon uses, and like that game it also sports impressive visuals for its time.

When all is said and done, Congo Bongo is an interesting (and impressive-looking) sample but it still can't hold a candle to its competition - Donkey Kong was by far the superior product at the time, even if it looked noticeably more primitive. The game just had a lot more heart put into it, and it's design was much more approachable. Both games can be frustrating to play, but Congo Bongo makes you feel more vulnerable! In the end, an interesting game (and still sort of fun to play), but it's easy to see why it was a failure.

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