The Game: Bongo the Ape sets your toes on fire while you’re asleep during a jungle expedition. So naturally, you drop everything to take revenge on the goofy gorilla. But first you have to reach him. The first level is a hazardous assortment of ramps and levels and a waterfall to jump across. Be careful of pesky little monkeys who can weigh you down so you move slower (and jump lower), and watch out for snakes. Then you have to hop across various islands and dodge more snakes as you try to get across a river. (Coleco [under license from Sega], 1984)
Memories: Congo Bongo was one of those games that really tested the mettle of the next-generation consoles of the day. Sega’s own translation of the game for the Atari 2600 was a barely-playable mess, though the version released for the Atari 5200 was a marked improvement. But as with Zaxxon, its cousin from a visual-concept point of view, Congo Bongo didn’t really arrive at home until ported to the ColecoVision.
The graphics here are as close as you could ask an early 80s game system to get to the arcade game’s look, and the game play isn’t shabby either, though truth be told, I’ll take a 5200 controller over ColecoVision’s mighty midget mushroom joystick any day for this game. To put it mildly, there are a few control issues – sad, since this edition of Congo Bongo eliminates the “fixed positions” oddity I encountered with the same game on the 5200, and is otherwise an excellent game.