Review by Retro

Reviewed: 07/05/01 | Updated: 05/20/02

A mildly entertaining game that is more for younger gamers

When I was a kid, playing video games was just about the only thing I ever did when I wasn't in school. Every time my birthday came up or when it was getting close to Christmas, my mom would always buy me a video game that she thought looked fun and that she thought I would like. Congo's Caper was one of the last games she ever got me for the Super Nintendo.

From the looks of Congo's Caper's screenshots on the box and from reading it, I thought it sounded a lot like Toki, and I thought I would like it because it was a 2-D side scrolling action/adventure, which was my favorite kind of video game. When I played it for the first time, I had a sort of mixed feeling.

After just a few minutes of playing Congo's Caper, I didn't know what it was, but it just felt like I was playing a game that was geared more toward the younger generation of up and coming gamers. In Congo's Caper, you play as a boy that has blue hair and carries around a club. He looks like someone from the caveman era and sort of reminds me of an older Bam Bam from the Flintstones. I don't know for sure, but I guess his name is Congo, judging by the game's title, so that's what I'll call him in this review. Congo has a problem. His girlfriend has been kidnapped by an evil nemesis, and it's up to Congo to find this villain, destroy him, and get his girlfriend back. But that's not all, Congo is under some kind of curse that turns him into a monkey when he gets hit by an enemy. If you've ever played Toki, then this should sound just like it so far.

But Congo isn't exactly like Toki. Toki was a grown man and he had a skill of spitting fireballs out of his mouth. Congo has a great jumping ability and he's pretty good with the club. While you play Congo's Caper, if you've ever played any other 2-D action/adventure games in your life, then you shouldn't have any problems picking up on this game's gameplay right away.

To start off, there are a few worlds in Congo's Caper such as one where you have to swim a lot, a haunted world, one that's full of flowing lava and volcanoes, and more. Each world consists of about five levels, give or take one. When you start, you get to choose which world you want to complete first, then when you get through the first one, you get to choose which one is next, and so on. Congo's Caper is your typical 2-D side scroller in ways. In most of the levels, you will just have to dodge and destroy a lot of enemies such as cavemen, albatrosses, fish, and many others, and make it to the end of the level in order to go to the next. The ends of the levels are represented by a short twig, or dead bush.

While you play the levels of Congo's Caper, there are a few things that remain the same throughout the game. Congo always has the same abilities and mishaps. By pressing up and B at the same time, you can make Congo jump real high and turn a flip. If an enemy touches Congo while he's flipping, they will get destroyed or get weaker. Whenever you jump high and flip, you can hold down while Congo is falling and he'll dive, which can also do some damage against most enemies. Just like Mario and Luigi can slide down slopes in Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World, if you hold down while standing on a slope, Congo will also slide. But here's the catch. For a few seconds, Congo will just slide real slowly, but after a few seconds, he will roll up in a ball, which can be real useful for passing certain levels very quickly or for defeating enemies. Finally, of course, since Congo is carrying a club, that will be his main weapon.

While trying to dodge or destroy as many enemies as you can, in each level of Congo's Caper, there are certain items that you need to collect. The most common items are yellow diamonds. Collect over 100 diamonds, and you'll earn an extra life. Next, there are what appear to be red apples. These act as energy for Congo. At the top-left part of the screen where it tells how many lives you have left, you'll see three oval-shaped containers, or lights. Congo is a boy, but if none of those lights are lit up, then it means he's just one hit away from losing a life, and he'll also be a monkey, literally. If you collect an apple while Congo is a monkey, it will turn him back into a boy. If you get enough apples to where all three of those lights at the top-left of the screen are lit up, Congo will start flashing in a way that might make you think he's invincible. He's not invincible while he's flashing, but he will have even better jumping ability, and when you're on your way down after you jump, you will be able to press the jumping button fast in order to slow your descent. If all three lights are lit up and you collect even more apples, you will get an extra life. The last item that you'll find a lot throughout the game are silver squares. These silver squares are a chance to use the slot machine at the top-middle part of the screen in order to try and get some extra lives. You could get something like 3 Congos or 3 stars and win yourself some extra lives. If you're REAL lucky and get 3 crowns, you will warp to somewhere else in the game. Finally, from time to time, you will run up on huge yellow diamonds that are 1-ups.

Most of the levels in Congo's Caper are played like the typical 2-D side scroller with you having to do a lot of jumping and fighting. But from time to time, there will be a level that is a little different, and in which there will be very few, if any, enemies. Throughout Congo's Caper, there will be obstacles to look our for other than the enemies, such as spikes. There are some levels in which you just have to do a certain thing throughout the level until you reach the end. For example, in the water world, in one of the levels, Congo will be swimming on top of the water by himself and all you have to do is move him left and right while trying to dodge underwater spikes and the lightning from the storm. At the end of each world, you will have to go up against a fearsome boss such as a vampire, a brainiac who tests his robotic invention by trying to destroy you with it, a pirate, and a few others.

After you get so far in Congo's Caper, from time to time, a screen will pop up between the levels that will show you a password. You can play Congo's Caper by yourself or with a friend in a two player game. When you play a two player game, you and your friend will take turns playing. Whoever is playing as the second player won't get to play until player one dies. From the title screen, you can also enter a password anytime, or change the options to how you want them.

I forgot to mention, in certain levels, you might find a shortcut or two. Congo also has a friend in a pink albatross. If you ever find and grab hold of the pink albatross in a level, it will take you to a bonus level full of diamonds.

In all honesty, I don't think Congo's Caper is a bad game. It's just that it seems like a game that is aimed more toward young kids. A lot of things about Congo's Caper seem a bit cutesy. You'll know what I mean when you finish a level and a few of Congo's monkey friends gather round and start shaking their booties in your direction. There aren't a whole lot of enemies in most parts, and a lot of the levels are real easy. On the other hand, a few of the levels have a pretty good challenge to them and some of the bosses have a great challenge to them.

I would recommend anybody who likes 2-D action/adventure games to at least play Congo's Caper. Just about anybody can enjoy this game, but kids will like it a lot more than teens or adults will for the most part.

GRAPHICS - Most of the graphics in Congo's Caper have a clean and humble look to them. None of the graphics are flashy or spectacular in any sense, they're just good ole normal graphics that go well with this game. I thought a few of the background graphics such as the volcanoes and the veins inside the dinosaur stood out a little more than the others. The characters also look fairly basic, but they're not bad.

SOUNDS - The sounds probably contributed more than anything to giving me the sense that this is a game geared more toward younger video gamers. For example, when Congo gets hit, he just makes a low monkey sound or makes a sound as if he just woke up from a bad dream. And when you destroy an albatross, they make a short, low squeak sound sort of like a mouse. Not to say that the sound effects are bad, but they just don't sound like you would think they would. The music in the game isn't anything memorable, but it's not bad by any means.

CONTROL - Real easy to master. The controls aren't sluggish or touchy at all, they're just right.

REPLAY VALUE - After I beat Congo's Caper the first time, I haven't played the game all that much since then. From time to time if I'm real bored and don't have any games that I'm really dying to play, I put in Congo's Caper and play it for awhile.

OVERALL - It's hard to explain it in a review, but Congo's Caper just has that kiddy, or cutesy, feel to it and if you ever play it, you'll know what I mean. All in all, Congo's Caper is a pretty good action/adventure game and it's sort of fun and even a bit challenging in parts, but kids will like it a lot more than veteran video game players will.

Rating:   3.0 - Fair

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