Review: Congo Bongo (Atari 5200)

In this review, we brave the jungle as we play the Atari 5200 game Congo Bongo. We find out how well this adventure game plays.

This game was released in 1983. It is a port from an arcade game.

You play an explorer. Your goal is to reach the large ape in an isometric maze.

Along the way, the ape will be throwing coconuts at you. You’ll also encounter gaps and other hazards. The monkeys that run randomly don’t seem to harm you, though.

As you gain distance, the points add up. Unfortunately, the longer you spend reaching the ape, the fewer points you get as a bonus.

If you reach the ape, you’ll get to take on level 2. While this level is more challenging, it is certainly beatable. If you successfully reach the ape across the river, you’ll more or less win the game. After you complete the level, you’ll be transported back to level 1 where the level is more challenging.

the game likely repeats these two levels until you lose all three of your free lives.

At first, I was pleasantly surprised. Here is a game with a nice complex level arrangement. Instead of a top down adventure game, you actually have a nice isometric level to navigate around. The second level is pretty well done, though some jumps are a little hard to judge.

When I beat the second level, I was disappointed to see that this is all the game more or less has to offer. So, while the levels themselves are actually nicely designed, the presence of a mere two levels means gameplay is rather limited. This shortens the life span of this game substantially in the grand scheme of things.

Another problem I have is the awkward jumping system. Sometimes, you can jump and land where you expect. Other times, you jump and you land in a completely different spot than you expect. Try jumping up to the next few levels at the beginning to find out how awkward jumping can be. In fact, this is more problematic in level 2 because jumps that look do-able are actually just out of reach. Instead of just eyeing what jump you can make, you are actually memorizing which jumps are possible and which ones aren’t.

Generally speaking, I can appreciate the level of detail the levels themselves have. The isometric look is a very nice sight to see. It is unfortunate that there is only two levels in this entire game. The jumping system can be a bit awkward and some gaps are misleading because of the buggy jump system. It’s an OK game to play for a few minutes, but the novelty does wear off after a while.

The graphics are fairly decent. The landscape was decently rendered and the characters are half decently put together. I’ll call the graphics pretty good.

The blips added over top of the gameplay make some pretty good emulated drums. The jingles throughout work pretty well. Overall, this is pretty decent.

Overall, the biggest shortfall of this game is the short two level design. The design of the levels themselves are pretty good, but the quantity is decidedly lacking. The jumping system is a bit awkward as well. The graphics are pretty decent and the audio works fairly well. A decent game while it’s short life span lasts.

Furthest point in game: Cycled back to level 1, but couldn’t make the jump over the highest stream.
High score: 11,070

General gameplay: 16/25
Replay value: 5/10
Graphics: 7/10
Audio: 3/5

Overall rating: 62%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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