With the success of Donkey Kong, it wasn’t long before other companies took advantage of the fact that copyrighting in gaming was very poor, if there were any at all, and started making their own clones of the game. Miner 2049er, Kangaroo, Hard Hat Mack and even Crazy Kong are good examples of this. Now you all know Sega going out against Nintendo with their Sega Mega Drive/Genesis, the good old console wars of the 90’s, Super Mario VS Sonic the Hedgehog.
But what if I told you that Sega were already competing against Nintendo to make their own Donkey Kong game, and one where it closely resembles the original game in a specific sense. They kind of failed since it’s less remembered and the ports for it at the time were from mediocre to plain awful (I’m looking at you Atari 2600). That game is Congo Bongo (Or Tip Top in Japan and Europe (ティップタップ Tippu Tappu)), developed and published by Sega in 1983.
So you’re a Safari Hunter in the jungle, you’re asleep in your tent, but this gorilla is trying everything to become King of the Trolls as he gives the Hunter a ‘Hotfoot’, after this The Hunter vows revenge and decides to give him hotfoot, but it’s a long and gruelling journey for The Hunter.
The game is an isometric game instead of a flat 2D game like Donkey Kong, but you can still see the resemblance. The first level is Primate Peak, this consists of you going up cliffs whilst avoiding the gorilla throwing coconuts (instead of barrels) and you have to avoid monkeys, one monkey can cling on you and slow you down, three monkeys will push you off a cliff. The second level is Snake Lake, where you walk on paths whilst avoiding of course, snakes, and to cross over to the exit, jump on a hippo. The third level is Rhino Ridge, where you avoid puddles for some reason and jump over charging rhinos. The fourth and final level is Lazy Lagoon, where you jump on lily pads and rocks and hippos and fish before getting to the exit and giving the gorilla a hotfoot and the game loops back to level 1.
So the game controls well and the graphics are nice and very detailed for a jungle level, though it has some essence of Zaxxon to it and the music…well I’ve heard different versions of it and my favourite is an arcade version on MAME on my PSP as it has a cool jungle base, it’s so cool. The game is pretty hard, even with unlimited coins and you have no way of defending yourself. But you know what, I really like this game, it’s kind of unique in a way, even for it’s time, like a 3D version of Donkey Kong.
Overall, Congo Bongo is a Donkey Kong clone, it has most of the elements of the game, but it has some appeal that intrigues me and may interest you since there are some elements that makes it unique despite being similar to Donkey Kong. It’s isometric gameplay is fresh but it can be very difficult since there is no defense, even Donkey Kong gave you hammers to help you, I don’t know if because I’ve played it more than Congo Bongo and I’ve gotten used to it unlike this game. It maybe a rip-off, but it’s a unique rip-off.
You can get it on Arcade, ColecoVision, Atari 5200, Atari 8-bit, IntelliVision, Atari 2600, TI-99/4A, Commodore VIC-20, Commodore 64, DOS and SG-1000.