Review by Retro
"Oh, Susanna, oh don't you cry for me, I come from Alabama and some monkeys are after me"
When a child gets taken away from its mother, about 99% of moms would just cry all week and call the police, but not kangaroo mothers! Hell no. The bad ass Mother Kangaroo puts on a pair of boxing gloves and sets out on her short-lived journey to save her baby at the top of the screen.
A huge pack of hyper monkeys have taken the precious baby kangaroo up to the top of their living quarters in the trees. These endless packs of monkeys that climb down the tree's trunk and then walk across onto the limbs are the only living enemies that Mother Kangaroo must hop out for. But fear them. These fearsome monkeys are great at the art of dropping and throwing apples at you! Mother Kangaroo can always duck or hop over these deadly projectiles, or even better, she can punch out the monkeys and the apple cores with just one swing of her hard as a rock fists.
All you really have to do in Kangaroo is get from the bottom of the screen to the top where the baby is in each of the game's three levels. In the first level, you only have to hop across a few horizontal platforms and climb three ladders in order to reach your prized possession. The second level consists of tons of stationary, broken up platforms to jump across with your spring-like legs. Finally, the third and final level is like a combination of the first and second ones. It has even more platforms and ladders than the previous two. Once you make it to the top of the last level, the screen will cheerfully flash and you'll go back and attempt to make it past the same three stages, only it will be a bit tougher this time around.
The hairy apes and apple cores are your biggest enemies, but you must also keep an eye on the bonus clock at the bottom of the screen. Upon completing a level, the amount that's left on the clock will be given to you as a chunk of bonus points, but if it reaches the lonely number of zero, Mother Kangaroo will fall off the screen and lose a life quicker than she can say Australia. Even worse, if you happen to fall off the steep edge of a platform, one of your lives will be more lost than a person trapped in the woods without the North Star or a compass to guide their way.
If you're hungry or if your sights are geared toward racking up some big time points, you can always collect a few fruits along your way. When the quantity of fruits is too small for your liking, there's a bell you can jump up and ring (up to three times in one stage) for a whole new set of a different species of fruits that will garner even more points for you.
Like Porky Pig would say, ''that's all folks''. That's all there is to the fun game of Kangaroo for the Atari 2600. As much as I like it, I must admit that it does have its faults. I've never played the game in the arcade, but I've read from various reviews and articles that it had four levels. There are only three levels in this adaptation of the arcade hit.
While you can't expect much from the graphics in an Atari 2600 cartridge, it's easy to see that Kangaroo's visuals could've been much better. First of all, these perfectly rectangular platforms and the ladders are actually supposed to be parts of a tree, but they just resemble normal platforms and ladders in a closed in space to me.
There's not much of a variety of colors at all. I mean, come on now, the kangaroos are freaking yellow! If I saw a yellow as corn kangaroo in real life, I would run away from it. There also seems to be something wrong with the animals when they're facing the left or right. Mother Kangaroo and the baby resemble long-eared bunny rabbits, and the monkeys look good enough while they're running up or down, but when they run left or right, they look like dang octopuses.
On the brighter side, the sound effects are of good, clear quality, even though it sounds like a pistol is being shot when you make the kangaroo punch. Also, Kangaroo has music (most 2600 games don't) at the start of a game and each time you climb a ladder. Unbelievably, when you finish a level, a well known, but out of place tune, ''Oh Susanna'', will come from your television's speakers for a few seconds. In all seriousness, I'm from Alabama (you know, ''Oh, Susanna, oh, don't you cry for me, I come from Alabama with a banjo on my knee''), but unless they're from a zoo, I doubt that these marsupials came from my state.
It's very easy to control Mother Kangaroo the majority of the time. It might just be me, but I'm convinced that there are a couple of places in the second level where it just won't let you jump from, from time to time. With most of the platforms, you'll always be able to jump off the edge of them and onto the next one with no sweat, but there's a couple (one in particular) that you simply can't jump off of at times (I smell a glitch!). Also, in parts, you can jump back down some not so steep platforms that you've already gotten past, but in one part (the beginning of level 2), you can't, even though it appears that Mother Kangaroo could easily step down them.
Kangaroo's challenge is perfect. After a few tries, it's not too hard to make it through all three stages, but it's always a good challenge to progress through all the stages more than twice. If you want to up the difficulty, you can select a variation in which the falling apples and the monkeys will be faster. Finally, if you get lonely playing the game by yourself, you can always choose variation 3 or 4, which are both two-player (turn-taking style).
I didn't expect a whole lot from a cartridge that's simply called Kangaroo, especially after I played the game for the first time and saw that it's somewhat like Donkey Kong, but not so much as to where I would call it a clone. However, as I played it more and more I found the game to be surprisingly addictive, and it seems to just get all the more fun the more I play it. I was thinking of giving this underappreciated title a solid 8, but because of those few, but annoying jumping glitches, it just gets a measly 7.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 12/21/02, Updated 12/21/02
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