The Game: As a mama marsupial trying to save your baby from many malignant marauding monkeys, you go on a rescue mission that involves climbing through many, many levels of the monkeys’ treehouse village, punching primates, dodging airborne apples, grabbing various fruit items along the way (considering the abundance See the videoof apples, strawberries, cherries and bananas, one can only assume these are Pac-Man’s table leavings), and avoiding the big, purple boxing-glove-stealing ape. (Atari, 1983)
Memories: Released for the Atari 2600 and 5200 simultaneously, it’s a no-brainer as to which version of Kangaroo is a better representation of the sleeper hit game Atari distributed in the U.S. (a rare licensed import for a company that usually released only homegrown product). The 5200 edition looks and plays more like the coin-op, including all four of the original game’s levels and doing so without the strange blue-going-on-purple background of the 2600 cartridge.
Oddly enough, despite the fact that the 5200 has two action buttons on each side of its joystick, the same control scheme was used here as on the 2600 – the buttons punched, while moving the joystick up made Kangaroo jump. It’s not a particularly bad control scheme, until one takes the non-centering 5200 joystick into account.
The only other real oddity is, frankly, that the game doesn’t look any better than it does. While it’s a considerable upgrade over the graphics of the 2600 version, the graphics are still a bit of a letdown – the Atari 8-bit computer architecture (on which the 5200 was based) was capable of better graphics than Kangaroo delivered, and plenty of other 5200 games proved this. Much like the 5200 version of Pole Position – incidentally, released around the same time for both systems – the graphics aren’t that much of a leap from the 2600’s, which is a bit of a surprise. Despite that, it’s hard to fault the game play – this was the best game of Kangaroo to be had without stepping into an arcade.