Congo Bongo


Review by Larry Anderson



Graphics: 5

Sound: 7

Gameplay: 6

Overall: 7

The story starts out simple enough; a hapless explorer sits out in the middle of the jungle, peacefully sleeping in the night... Out of nowhere, some nutty gorilla sets his tent (and our hero’s posterior) on fire. What’s an explorer to do?? Well, get revenge of course!

So goes the premise for Congo Bongo, originally presented in the arcades by our buddies at Sega, and translated to almost every classic game platform you can think of. But fellow gamers, this review will concentrate on what makes the Intellivision port great… or not so great. Guess it depends on what time of the morning you’re playing! This game was among Sega’s first batch of home system/computer ports that they released in 1983; this particular version is among the hardest Intellivision carts to find (and the only Intellivision port that Sega did directly). One of the reasons may be the low numbers of carts produced. Another reason may be that this game is a lot of fun to play and people aren’t willing to let it go. This port is my favorite of the lot, for reasons I’m about to bore you with in the following paragraphs.

For those of you not familiar with the game, the object is to do unto gorillas as they have done unto you. You must first maneuver through a series of cliffs and waterfalls, while Congo Bongo tosses coconuts to try and stop you. If you should make it to the top of the cliff, the monkey runs scared, and you proceed to the second level, where Congo Bongo can be seen peacefully sleeping on the other side of a jungle river… and look, there’s a campfire there, just DYING to be used against our simian nemesis. You track across the river Frogger-style; hopping from lily pad to hippo to alligator (or is that a piranha?), eventually reaching the other side of the river… but watch out for that stampeding rhino, he’ll trample you flat if you’re not careful. Climb that final ledge, and the sweet smell of burning fur is yours, as well as the incredibly gratifying congratulations screen show below; the pinnacle of Intellivision graphics technology!

Sega did an excellent job of capturing the flavor of the arcade game, as well as the little details. For example, unlike in other ports, the gorilla actually moves around while tossing random coconuts your way in the first stage; other ports of this title have a static graphic that magically dumps stuff at you. The monkey who sits stubbornly past the bridge, waiting to be sent flying into the water as you slide down the ledge is right where you’d expect him to be. Other than some flickering of moving objects (typical of most Intellivision titles with lots of action), the levels are recreated quite faithfully; think of Diner with a jungle theme and you’ll get an idea of the layout style used. But every port has drawbacks, and if I could point out the biggest one of this particular work, it’s that they only captured 2 levels; the 3rd scene with the stampeding rhinos and holes dotted among the landscape to duck into is noticeably absent. Yet another fine example of the classic era’s “less is more” philosophy, or the programmer just couldn’t stand staring at an Intellivision any more!

If you’re really in the mood to try this out and don’t have an Intellivision handy, grab any one of the abundant Intellivision emulators out there (Bliss is my personal favorite) and grab the ROM (most of you will know where to obtain such things). This game is particularly well suited for play with a keyboard… and let’s face it; everyone love to see a monkey set on fire, digital or otherwise)


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Last updated: Wednesday, December 10, 2003 03:17 PM