Congo Bongo,[a], also known as Tip Top,[b] is an isometric platform game released by Sega for arcades in 1983. The game includes a ROM that contains a message indicating it was likely coded at least in part by the company Ikegami Tsushinki. The game is viewed in an isometric perspective, like Sega's previous game Zaxxon (1981).
|Platform(s)||Arcade, Apple II, Atari 2600, Atari 5200, Atari 8-bit, Commodore 64, ColecoVision, Intellivision, MSX, IBM PC, SG-1000, TI-99/4A, VIC-20|
|Mode(s)||Up to 2 players, alternating turns|
The player takes the role of a red-nosed safari explorer who tries to catch an ape named "Bongo". The explorer seeks Bongo to enact revenge for an apparent practical joke in which Bongo set fire to the hunter's tent, giving him a literal "hotfoot". He must pursue the ape across four different screens, with the goal of moving from the lower left corner to the upper right corner of every screen. He must overcome obstacles like falling coconuts, charging rhinos, and avoiding falls into the water.
The employs the same isometric perspective that was made famous by Sega's previous game Zaxxon (1981). The game has come to be seen as Sega's answer to Nintendo's highly successful Donkey Kong game that was released two years prior, as it contains too many similarities to the former ape game to be purely coincidental. Both games involve primates who throw objects at a player from a vantage point on top of a structure. Both games involve a large nosed protagonist whose only ability is the ability to jump. And both games have four different levels composed of one screen that re-start with a higher difficulty once completed. Even the graphics of the bonus timer look extraordinarily similar to Donkey Kong's.
- In the first stage, the hunter must avoid coconuts thrown by Bongo and he has to climb a series of cliffs to reach the ape, while at the same time shaking off three monkeys that try to throw the hunter off the mountain.
- In the second stage, the hunter must cross a swamp platform by riding on the backs of diving and swimming hippopotamuses and avoiding both poisonous snakes and scorpions.
- The third stage requires the hunter to cross a plain and crouch into holes to evade the horns of charging rhinoceroses, while climbing up large flights of stairs to proceed to the next area.
- In the fourth and final stage, the hunter crosses a second swamp that with lily pads, fish, and hippos, to reach a gate of charging rhinos that are blocking the entrance to Bongo in a hot tub.
The game repeats from the first level with increased difficulty.
A safari explorer arrived in the jungle one day, and the animal inhabitants decided to cook up a scheme to get rid of him. Bongo the ape volunteered to chase him out with fire. One night, while sleeping peacefully in his tent, the explorer awoke to a fiery sight: the large ape Bongo had lit his tent on fire, but this didn't scare the explorer away. It only strengthened his resolve to push deeper into Bongo's domain and exact revenge for the cruel joke.
Congo Bongo was ported to the Apple II, SG-1000, MSX, Intellivision, ColecoVision, Commodore 64 (first as a cartridge, then later to disk), VIC-20, IBM PC, Atari 2600, Atari 5200, Atari 8-bit family, and the Texas Instruments TI-99/4A. Sega's ports for the Atari 2600, 5200, Atari 8-bit, Intellivision, and Commodore 64 (cartridge version) include two of the four levels from the arcade original, while the ColecoVision release is missing the "Snake Lake" level.
The Atari 2600 version was released in March 1984. The ColecoVision version was released in October 1984.
In Japan, Game Machine listed Congo Bongo on their June 15, 1983 issue as being the fifth most-successful table arcade unit of the month. In the United States, Time magazine initially reported in 1983 that the arcade game was a commercial failure, before it went on to become a popular arcade game according to Computer Games magazine in early 1985. The game went on to have a number of home conversions, which were commercially successful in the United States.
Computer and Video Games magazine gave the arcade game a generally favorable review. They called its concept of Donkey Kong (1981) "in three dimensions" a "fascinating idea" while also noting the final level has similarities to Frogger (1981).
The home conversions received a mixed reception. The ColecoVision, Atari 5200 and Intellivision versions were awarded "Best Videogame Audio-Visual Effects" at the 1984 Arkie Awards. Ahoy! in 1984 stated that Congo Bongo for the Commodore 64 and VIC-20 "is fraught with problems; gameplay is repetitive, frustrating, tedious, inconsistent, and at times confusing, and the music not only got on my nerves but stomped on them. Plus, the whole thing is derivative". Computer Games magazine gave the Atari VCS version a C- rating, calling the "VCS version of" the arcade game, "for the most part, a disappointment." ST. Game readers named the Atari version of the game the worst Atari program of 1983, even worse than the notorious E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.
The original arcade release is included in the PlayStation Portable version of Sega Genesis Collection (as an unlockable game) and Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. An enhanced remake was released for the PlayStation 2 under the Sega Ages label as a part of Sega Ages 2500 Series Vol. 23: Sega Memorial Selection.
- Akagi, Masumi (13 October 2006). アーケードTVゲームリスト国内•海外編(1971-2005) [Arcade TV Game List: Domestic • Overseas Edition (1971-2005)] (in Japanese). Japan: Amusement News Agency. pp. 35, 131. ISBN 978-4990251215.
- "Congo Bongo (Registration Number PA0000184737)". United States Copyright Office. Retrieved 5 May 2021.
- "Overseas Readers Column" (PDF). Game Machine (in Japanese). No. 209. Amusement Press, Inc. 1 April 1983. p. 30.
- Ikegami Tsushinki
- ドンキーコング裁判についてちょこっと考えてみる Archived 2010-03-12 at the Wayback Machine Thinking a bit about Donkey Kong, accessed 2009-02-01
- It started from Pong (それは『ポン』から始まった : アーケードTVゲームの成り立ち, sore wa pon kara hajimatta: ākēdo terebi gēmu no naritachi), Masumi Akagi (赤木真澄, Akagi Masumi), Amusement Tsūshinsha (アミューズメント通信社, Amyūzumento Tsūshinsha), 2005, ISBN 4-9902512-0-2.
- Intellivision Rarity Guide
- TI-99/4A-Pedia: Congo Bongo
- "Year-End Index" (PDF). Computer Entertainer. Vol. 3 no. 10. January 1985. p. 156.
- "Game Machine's Best Hit Games 25 - テーブル型TVゲーム機 (Table Videos)". Game Machine (in Japanese). No. 214. Amusement Press, Inc. 15 June 1983. p. 27.
- Alexander, Charles P. (October 17, 1983). "Video Games Go Crunch!". Time.
- "1985 Software Buyer's Guide". Computer Games. Vol. 3 no. 5. United States: Carnegie Publications. February 1985. pp. 11–8, 51–8.
- Lendino, Jamie (27 September 2020). Attract Mode: The Rise and Fall of Coin-Op Arcade Games. Steel Gear Press. p. 177.
- "Jungle Revenge in 3D: Tip Top". Computer and Video Games. No. 21 (July 1983). 16 June 1983. p. 30.
- "1985 Arcade Awards" – Electronic Games January 1985, pages 22–28.
- Hallassey, Dan (March 1984). "Congo Bongo". Ahoy!. p. 60. Retrieved 27 June 2014.
- "Reviews: Video Game Buyer's Guide". Computer Games. Vol. 3 no. 2. June 1984. p. 56.
- "The Best and the Rest". ST. Game. Mar–Apr 1984. p. 49. Retrieved 28 July 2014.