Approximate Release Date: May 1, 1993
Developer: Data East
Publisher: Data East
It’s a bummer how the otherwise good Congo’s Caper takes such a clear step back from its predecessor.
Congo’s Caper is a prequel to Joe & Mac, but the gameplay isn’t very similar. In fact, there’s not much shared between the two games other than the prehistoric caveman setting. That’s mostly to Congo’s Caper‘s detriment. The previous game looked unique and was able to stand out because of the art’s emotive qualities, like how the enemies’ eyes would bug out when hit. That’s mostly missing here, replaced with smaller, more generic spritework.
It’s not just the graphics, either. Joe & Mac‘s great co-op multiplayer is gone, as is the world map. There aren’t projectile attacks or different weapons to use, just Congo’s standard stick attack. The boss fights are rather annoying because of this; you have to get so close to the bosses to cause damage that the swooping and swinging motions they are doing encourages hyper-conservative play. You only get a few missteps in these long fights.
… Alright, I’ve spent enough time ragging on Congo’s Caper. This isn’t a bad game, I promise!
Congo is a monkey that has been turned into a human by a stone from the sky moments before his lady friend was kidnapped. These magic stones are essentially the super mushrooms of Congo’s Caper. Find one in the level, you evolve into a human. One hit will devolve Congo back into a monkey. Collect three more stones without getting hit and Congo pretty much turns into a sparkly super saiyan and is then able to take multiple hits without devolving, run faster, and jump higher.
Some enemies become immobilized when hit, letting you push them to become a handy platform to allow you to reach otherwise inaccessible locations or throw them at enemies. Dead enemies fly through the air and can take out other enemies or destroy blocks. This can help or hinder you from reaching secret areas, and encourages thinking about about how you engage with enemies rather than just wholesale slaughter.
I wish I didn’t know going in that Congo’s Caper was in any way related to Joe & Mac. They’re so different from each other that the knowledge doesn’t offer any benefit. But once I got over my initial disappointment, I found a fun little platformer than isn’t too difficult outside of boss fights. I totally recommend it.
It’s certainly better than Chuck Rock!
Next time: I’ll be exploring a dystopian sci-fi world in the isometric RPG Shadowrun!