The more video games I play, the more I can see how developers like to borrow ideas from each other. Take the original Super Mario Bros. for example. It’s the classic paragon of what a platformer should be. Off the top of your head think of some games that take elements from that game. Let’s see … Mega Man, Ghosts and Goblins, Sonic the Hedgehog, there are a ton of others. Those games took ideas from Super Mario and put them into a fresh, unique package. So I always find it humorous when games blatantly copy other games. Sometimes you may find yourself saying: Hey, they took that from (insert game title here)! That is the case with this game.
It’s an Evolution Revolution!
In prehistoric times, there were a bunch of monkeys shooting the breeze and minding their own business. Out of nowhere two mysterious rubies come falling out of the sky and hits two of these monkeys; Congo and his girlfriend Congette (hope they are not related 😯 ). The rubies transform these two into humans with tails, kinda like the Saiyans. All of the sudden a demon-kid with a pitchfork comes flying down and takes off with Congette. And Congo runs on after them.
I wonder if this could be a theory on how the human race started, a proverbial Adam and Eve story, perhaps? These darn video games. They can be deeper than you first imagined them to be. 😉
Controls and Gameplay
Congo can jump or swim with either the A or B buttons. X or Y will make him attack with his club. Pressing up on the control pad in conjunction with A or B makes him do a super jump that is higher than Mario’s. Down on the control pad plus A or B will make him dip down to lower platforms (only certain platforms will allow you to do this). Holding left of right on the control pad along with either A or B will allow Congo to do a long distance jump. Using either the L or R buttons will make Congo run.
In Japan, Congo’s Caper is actually called Joe and Mac 2. It’s a prequel to those titles and maybe Congo is an ancestor of Joe & Mac.
This game reminds me mightily of other games I have played. It reminds me of Super Mario Bros. in the sense that Congo has three forms: Monkey (small Mario), Human (Super Mario) and Super Congo (Any of Mario’s costumed forms). Even the jump effect has a eerily similar sound.
It reminds me of Mega Man in the sense that after the initial stage, you can select the next four stages in any order you like. And there is a boss that uses Dr. Wily type contraptions to best this game’s hero.
It reminds me of Sonic the Hedgehog in the sense that some of the stages look like they were pulled straight from a Sonic game. Congo can even roll like a ball and shoot down what resemble pinball machine walls at a good speed.
There are six stages in all with four levels each (5 in the intro stage). After you conclude the first stage by defeating that demon-kid inside the belly of a dinosaur, you can choose in what order you would like to tackle the next four stages. Then you get to move on to the final stage. At the end of each stage you fight a Robot Master, ahem, I mean neanderthal boss.
Collecting three rubies will turn Congo into Super Sonic, uh, I mean Super Congo. As Super Congo you can jump at a height Mario could only dream of. You can also float down from a jump, and Congo seems to attack at a faster rate as well. He even sports a cool glowing golden hue while in this form. Take three hits while you’re Super Saiyan Congo though and you revert back to regular Congo. Take yet another hit and you go back to being a monkey. Get hit as a monkey and you lose a life.
The game offers a good challenge, particularly when it comes to the jumping mechanics and getting from platform to platform in certain spots. As you’re going through the game, you get accustomed to super jumping, even if it’s unintended. This will be a problem in some places because super jumping will make you hit your head on a low ceiling and you wind up falling in a pit of lava or spikes. Another example is missing your disappearing platform because you performed a super jump. You will have to learn the fine art of regular jumping to get past some tricky jumping segments. It even took me some time and I had to arrange my hand a certain way on the left side of the controller to ensure I wouldn’t accidentally press up while I jumped in these critical areas.
Types of enemies you’ll face are dinosaurs, neanderthals called fuzzynecks, ghosts, prehistorik piranhas, flying lava bits, moving flames and many more. You can jump on the heads of fuzzynecks like a koopa trooper and they become stunned and stay in place. You can then push them into other enemies or use them for an extra boost when you jump. The enemy cast is large and diverse, something I can’t say for every game out there.
There’s not much in the way of options, but you can change the button configuration and choose between stereo and monaural sound. There is even a password system, a feature some games forgot to include.
So the good news is that the people who developed Congo’s Caper chose to emulate some fantastic games. The bad news is the game feels unoriginal. That’s ok though because the game is fun to play.
Graphics and Sound
The graphics won’t blow you away, but they are deliciously cartoony and succeed at the Saturday morning cartoon look the creators were probably shooting for. There is decent detail in the backgrounds, and the various characters seem to display expressions depending on what’s going on. For example, when Congo defeats a boss, a bunch of monkeys who were captured jump onto the screen and they all turn around and shake their little stank behinds at you. Hilarious. The sprite work was done well too.
Music also won’t blow you away for the most part. There is one score though that could easily be used in a RPG. I’d say the soundtrack as a whole is just serviceable. I did mention the sound that is heard when Congo jumps sounds like Mario’s. I wonder if there could be other sound effects lifted from different games? Maybe, I didn’t notice any in my playthroughs.
Congo’s Caper is highly derivative, but a fun derivative nonetheless. The gameplay mechanics are solid and offers just the right balance of difficulty. With secret warp zones, a Super Sonic form, Robot Master wannabes, etc, one has to wonder if this game suffers from a split personality disorder. If you don’t mind the obvious borrowing from other game franchises, you will find a solid title here.
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