In the early days after Donkey Kong was released to the world, there were a lot of arcade and home console companies that wanted in on the Kong sized profit! This series will focus on these lesser known games. weather it’s an original game, or a Kong bootleg, we will be touching base with these games that Kong forgot!
The first one is probably the most obvious copy of the Donkey Kong Style platformers- and one of the most polarizing yet visually stunning games at the time- Congo Bongo!
Congo Bongo was was released in 1982 by Sega. This gaming giant had a few very successful years- with games like Monaco GP, Space Fury, Turbo, Zaxxon, the U.S. release of Frogger, and Carnival to name a few. But, when Donkey Kong was released, all bets were off. That was the beginning of a feud between the two companies that would last over a decade. They wanted their OWN Donkey Kong. But- where to start? It was decided early on that they would use the same 3/4 perspective they had used on one of their most successful games to date Zaxxon.
If that was was as big a hit Because of the perspective, a platformer will work just fine, right?
Fun fact- most of the programming was handled by an outside company- Ikegami Tsushinki Co., Ltd. A manufacturer of professional and broadcast television equipment, that also dabbled in subcontractor work to Japanese video game companies, like Sega, and Nintendo. They actually helped code Donkey Kong as well! Does that mean DK and CB are cousins? I think it does!
Firstly- I love this cabinet. It’s the same one that Zaxxon came in (which is one of my favorite designs from the company) But with the Congo Bongo artwork on it- It’s beautiful. all the reds, and yellows of the artwork seem to enhance the cabinet, and seamlessly flow into the game’s graphics.
The first thing everyone notices about Congo Bongo Is the perspective and that it would make it too hard to play. I think the opposite- to a point. Let’s get into the game, shall we? It all starts… with a hotfoot. Seems Bongo is a joker, and decides to SET FIRE to Dr. Explorer’s tent! It’s time for sweet revenge on the kooky Congo Bongo- let’s give him a hotfoot!! The trek won’t be easy- but it’ll be fun!!
The first round- Primate Peak, is the easiest. Follow the path and you’ll be ok. But- keep a sharp eye out for the monkeys at the top of the waterfall- you don’t want to end up like the guy under the waterfall bridge!
The second- Snake Lake, is not too bad. Just navigate the island platforms- but watch out for the snakes! And, be sure to time you jump right on that hippo to reach the end of the level.
The third- Rhino Ridge- is tough. Rhinos are charging all over the field! Duck into a hole for temporary safety. But watch out! a pesky mole will kick you out and cover the holes. Also- be careful of the puddles of water- they’re not shallow! climb up the platform at the far end to leave Rhino Ridge.
The forth- Lazy Lagoon – is hardest in my opinion. Cross the water by leaping onto floating lily pads and standing rocks, and riding on the backs of submerging hippos and swimming giant fish. When you reach dry land, a couple of rhinos will be charging back and forth and after you get past them, you will find Bongo sleeping on his chair next to a fire. The hunter will finally have his revenge and give Bongo the hotfoot, after which, the game begins again, but with increased difficulty.
I loved this game when it came out. It’s unique visuals, and how stunning each one is just pulls you in. The game is so different from Donkey Kong in so many ways. I find the game challenging- but defiantly playable and fun! Still love this one today.
It was ported to every system imaginable back then- some coming close the arcade, some… not so much. But, the commercial was a blast! Henny Youngman did the voiceover- Like HE was the explorer himself! it’s early 80’s video game perfection.
“It laughs a long, long time.” Best. Line. Ever.
Bonus- Let’s look at the ports that came out on the classic systems!
What did you think of Congo Bongo? You love it? hate it? let me know in the comments!!!
And as always- Keep Playin’ Like It’s 1981!
Wow! I definitely didn’t know about this game. 😃 But it does make sense that there would be knock-offs. It happened with Pac-Man, Donkey Kong would be no different.
And looking at the gameplay the inspiration clearly shows, but yet it’s distinct enough to stand on its own. And the level designs are pretty interesting too. Guess Sega definitely took a page from Nintendo’s book where much like how Radarscope’s design helped create DK, Zaxxon’s engine helped create Congo Bongo.
Awesome article Ray!
PS: I’m surprised Quest never got a cabinet way back when. But still, it’s a fantastic game. And that commercial was pretty cool! 👍
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