Review by vgc2000
"Congo Bongo is a great arcade game but a terrible port to the Vic-20"
Overview- Sega released the arcade game Congo Bongo in 1983 to obviously compete with Donkey Kong which was released two years earlier. The game never caught on in the arcades probably due to the isometric style of the game which was hard to get used to and that no matter who you talk to they all have a love/hate relationship towards it. Congo Bongo was a very nice looking game for the time when isometric games were hard to pull off properly but Sega managed to do it and the game remains unique and a lot of fun to play even to this day and it's totally worth the nostalgic playtime if you can find the original unit.
Despite the lack of success of the original arcade Sega still ported the game to just about every known console and computer of the time. The problem here lies in the fact that almost every version is flat out terrible and most barely resemble the arcade original. This review will go over the obscure Vic-20 version which just happens to be one of the absolute worst versions of the game out there!
Game Play- The angle of this version is viewed from something inbetween the forty five degree angle, probably something like a twenty two degree angle and it's enough to throw the game play of the entire game horribly off. It's off so much that you have to constantly correct your movements as the joystick can't accurately move on the angle this game is set at. The controls are also stiff and clunky; jumps are very tough to make again due to the angle and often times you'll swear that you landed on a platform just to fall to your doom. Movements of the enemies are also choppy and hard to predict and avoid adding to the frustration.
I'm not sure as to just why Sega was so lazy when they ported this game as most versions only feature two of the original four stages and this one is no different. This version includes stage 1: Primate Peak and Stage 4: Lazy Lagoon neither of which are playable. The Vic-20 is not a terribly powerful computer but it was far more capable than what is shown here.
Graphics/Sound- Graphically speaking this game is also atrocious. The colors are very washed out and blurry and are not helped by the poor angle of the game. The blurriness makes it hard to avoid enemies and causes the collision detection to be questionable at best. Once again the Vic-20 is capable of a much richer color set than what is shown here. CB is also minimal on the sound effects. It doesn't even try to capture the original tune in the arcade and what we're left with is grating on the ears.
Conclusion- I'm left questioning why Sega's ports of Congo Bongo were as bad as they were. I understand that the Vic-20 may not be capable of handling this game properly but Sega should've known that and decided not to port it here in the first place. There should've been no reason for them to not include all four of the stages in each version as most systems were more than enough memory capabilities to include all four and they weren't dealing with copyright issues like Coleco was when they ported Donkey Kong. As it stands the Apple II and Commodore 64 diskette versions are the only ports worth playing and the Vic-20 and Atari 2600 versions are two of the worst!
Reviewer's Score: 2/10 | Originally Posted: 04/04/12
Game Release: Congo Bongo (US, 1983)
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