Year Of Release: 1983
It is pretty common knowledge that Nintendo had a huge hit on their hands with Donkey Kong. When Donkey Kong blew up all over the world, many other game developers wanted to get in on this and make their own platform style game. Congo Bongo is seen as Sega’s answer to Donkey Kong. These days, Congo Bongo is looked back upon as one of the first major Sega games, but actually Congo Bongo did not perform well at well when it was first released into arcades in 1983 As a matter of fact many at Sega saw the game as a pretty big failure.
The story of Congo Bongo sees you playing the role of a man on safari who for some odd reason has a huge red nose. You are looking to hunt a giant ape called Bongo who set fire to your tent in some kind of practical joke. Congo Bongo is just a great looking game it has nice bright graphics with quite a lot of action going on at the screen. Unlike other popular arcade games, including Donkey Kong. Congo Bongo has an isometric view point. This was something of a novelty back then, but many people thought that this view point made the game hard to play.
The Safari Hunter has no way to attack the various jungle enemies that each of the four levels has. So you need to jump and avoid them at all costs. Like Donkey Kong, Congo Bongo has four levels. The first level is called, Primate Peak and sees you needing to get to the top of a hill while Bongo is throwing coconuts at you…… I wonder where they got the idea for this stage! The second stage is called Snake Lake and is a grass level that sees you needing to avoid scorpions and snakes and time your jumps so that you can use the hippos to get to the end of the level. Rhino Ridge is level 3 and sees you in an African type setting where you need to jump over the charging rhinos and hide in the holes, as well as the rhinos, puddles of water can also kill you here. The last level is Lazy Lagoon which has clearly taken its inspiration from Frogger where you need to use lily pads to make your way across a lagoon.
Current High Score: 1,506,300 by Jason Cram
Now Congo Bongo did not perform very well in arcades, but the game was ported to pretty much every home console and home computer of the era. The version released for the Sega SG-1000, Sega’s own flagship console at the time has a very strange port of the game that rather than using the isometric view point is all done in 2D, but other consoles that had similar hardware specs, such as the ColecoVision still kept the isometric view point.
One of the most interesting things about Congo Bongo is that the Commodore 64 has two versions of Congo Bongo. One was handled by Sega themselves and the other was developed by US Gold. It’s worth noting that most of the home ports of the game would not have all four levels that were in the Arcade. The Atari 2600 version for example only has two of the levels.
Congo Bongo is kind of a cult classic and a game many hard core Sega fans are fond of. There was a remake/enhanced port made for the Playstation 2 and the game was also included on the Sega collection that was released for the Sony Playstation 3 and the Xbox 360.