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!
This game poses the question- what would you get if you put Donkey Kong and Congo Congo in a blender, put it on frappe , and poured that awesome mix in a arcade cabinet- what would you get? Why- you’d get Roc N Rope, of course! This sadly overlooked arcade game is in my top 10 arcade games that I love to play- the level design is off the charts, it has characters that have stone age appeal, a mythical bird to rescue, and a climber who is up to the task- and does it all without a ladder!
Roc’n Rope is an arcade platform video game developed by Konami and designed by the legendary Tokuro Fujiwara. It was released in arcades in 1983, by both Konami and Kosuka/Interlogic in some markets. The player, must ascend a series of prehistoric platforms, facing dinosaurs and cavemen, in a Lost World to reach the Phoenix- a magical gold bird, granting fortune and glory to whomever reaches it. And if anyone can do it- Sir Henry Questington III can do it! Armed with his rope gun, flashlight, a little luck, and your help, he just might get to the top! It wont be easy… there are four levels- each one harder than the last!
Most people never saw this jem for two reasons- in 1983, the arcades were in the midst of the game crash- most manufacturers weren’t releasing new games a frequently as they did in the last few years before. more importantly, the companies also were not importing the latest from Japanese game houses like Konami as often.
The other isn’t as obvious. Konami was trying to get a foothold in the US. Companies like Stern, Centuri, and Sega helped by grabbing the licensing for games in western markets- but it wasn’t enough. Arcade operators had slowly stopped buying new dedicated cabinets as often. So they had a solution- conversion kits. A new arcade PCB, sideart, header, bezel, and all the other electronic components were usually all included. Take out the old hardware- put in the new, and… voila! a new game- for a quarter of the price. But- if an operator didn’t think the game wouldn’t make the money- they didn’t buy it.
So- if you didn’t see this game- it’s not to late! let’s gear up, and go the Lost World and get the Phoenix!
Let’s start at…
Henry needs to get to the Phoenix at the top. Be quick and use your harpoon gun to traverse the ledges. be carful not to fall off! Use the vines to go down a platform- or drop down only Henry’s body length. grab the gold feathers for bonus points, and the eggs give temporary invincibility! Stun the Cavemen and Dinos with your flashlight to get away quickly. They will also climb your ropes- stop moving when they do and stun them on the rope for a bonus! Get to the top, watch out for the pterodactyl with the bolder, and the Phoenix will fly you to the next level.
Now, Henry is in the damp musty caverns inside Dinosaur Mountain. The platforms here are more open and almost straight across. But watch out! That means the Cavemen and Dinos have more more room to move- and in greater numbers as the hear you walking around. And to make matters worse, that pesky pterodactyl may start dropping those boulders he’s carrying. it will bounce and fall all the way down! Get to the top, and the Phoenix will take you to the next level.
Henry has made it to the Caveman Village. Platforms are more spiritic, but the crafty Cavemen have made a crude escalator and windmill platform to traverse. Be careful if you use them- one misstep, and Henry will fall! Make it to the top, and the Phoenix will take you to the final level.
Here we are at the top of Dinosaur Mountain- precarious Waterfall Peak! Ledges are grouped closer together- making it harder to to use the harpoon gun. Shooting across seems easy enough… Except for the waterfall. water spills from the hole every few seconds, and if Henry gets caught in it- he’s gone. you can shoot through it, just wait till it stops to climb. Make it to the top- and Henry gets the fortune and glory as he and the Phoenix fly away- to more adventures! For us- the game starts over, with increased difficulty.
Fun fact- Fujiwara, Like a lot of designers, moved over to Capcom- where he took what he learned on Roc N Rope and make another famous game… Bionic Commando! He had his hands in the arcade and the NES port!
Roc N Rope got a sequel of sorts. In 1987, Arumana no Kiseki (Miracle of Almana) was released on the Famicom Disk System. The player takes the role of a hero named Kaito, who bears a resemblance to Indiana Jones, and must travel through six cavernous levels in search of the stolen jewel, Arumana. The player begins with thirty throwing knives as his weapon of attack. As they venture through the levels they can find various other weapons. These include bombs, a handgun, bolas, a crystal ball that destroys everything on screen, and mines. He must destroy various cave dwelling creatures as well as soldiers, who sometimes drop weapons. Of course, the game wouldn’t be released in the US (most Disk System games didn’t) But, I think this one would have done great!
As a bonus- let’s look at the home ports!
There was only a couple-
The Colecovison version (also released on the MSX computers)
and the Atari 2600 version-
It was also released on the Konami Arcade Classics Collection on the PS1-
…And on the Konami Classics series on the Nintendo DS-
If you can play any of these ports- check em’ out!! Also- give the arcade game a try!!!
What did you think of Roc N Rope? You love it? hate it? let me know in the comments!!!
And as always- Keep Playin’ Like It’s 1981!