Saturday 23 April 2016

Kangaroo (Atari 2600 review)

Developer: General Computer Corp.
Publisher: Atari
Released: 1983

Kangaroo is a multi-screen platform game that was originally released in the Arcades in 1982.

You play as Mother Kangaroo and the objective is to rescue your baby from the top of all three screens. To do this, you climb ladders, jump over logs, punch monkeys and avoid falling apples. Fruit is scattered that will net you bonus points but a bell can be hit three times in each screen to release more fruit and increase your score further. This is one of the game's best features as there's multiple ways to play depending on how skilled you are; newcomers can simply head for the top to rescue the baby but veterans can take their time by maxing out the bell. The latter is dangerous as it requires backtracking through treacherous areas; the rewards are high though and it's satisfying when you successfully maximise your point total on a screen! While the gameplay is good, the jumping mechanic is slightly delayed (even on a CRT) and many times you'll fall off a ledge despite pressing the button in time. Most times I lost a life was because of this exact problem and it's infuriating when you're having a great high score run. There's nothing special about the level design but they're passable and provide a good challenge. Once you've beaten all three screens the game loops with increased difficulty; here, monkeys occasionally stay put on the outskirts and shoot instead of chasing you; it's a great idea and adds another layer of strategy. This port is missing a few things from the Arcade game, namely an entire screen where you release the baby kangaroo from a cage by smashing down a stack of monkeys. There's a few nice jingles but they sometimes interfere with each other to create an unpleasant dissonance.
Kangaroo doesn't have much in the way of originality but it's still an enjoyable platformer that's worth a look. The wonky jumping controls do mar the experience though and despite the fun gameplay it's an issue that repeatedly crops up and causes a little too much frustration for my liking.
Random trivia: The game was also released on the Atari 5200 console in 1983.

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