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Kangaroo - The Atari Times


One of Atari's answers to Donkey Kong?, Part 2
by Darryl Brundage

June 27, 2007
First off, the part 1 is in regards to my Arabian review. Also -- and just like Arabian -- Atari didn't make Kangaroo, Sun Electronics did, Atari just distributed it. It also seems like Sun Electronics had a thing for platformers as well.

Anyway, gaming in the 80s had it all, especially when it came to those with "saving" themes, such as:

1. Saving a lady from an ape (Donkey Kong)
2. Saving an ape from a guy (Donkey Kong Jr.)
3. Saving a lady in a bathtub from a bunch of rats (Frisky Tom; it was a real arcade game, seriously!)
4. Saving humanoids from aliens (Defender and Stargate)
5. Saving the universe (probably any sci-fi shoot'em up, many of which Atari made)
6. Saving the world from monsters wanting you to diet (Pac-Man)
7. Saving video gaming companies from people wanting to destroy everybody (The Atarians vs. Jack Tramiel)

Ok, so you get the idea. But in order to do something different (no ape saving humanoids [minus Mario] from Pac-Man monsters in outer space), a kangaroo was made into the hero this time around. And a heroine as well, since it's a female kangaroo rescuing her kid from evil monkeys (which seemed to be quite the stereotypical scapegoat villain back then...hey, how come there aren't more goats in games, by the way?).

In this game, the kangaroo you control walks, jumps, and punches her way through the screens. Evil monkeys are tossing apples from the sides and above (maybe those weren't used from Food Fight), so you must keep an eye out from most directions (not including below). The kangaroo is one bad momma, since she has boxing gloves on, and can punch out monkeys if she gets close enough to them. It's one thing that everyone loves monkeys, but punching them out is even MORE fun (and worth points too)!

Having elements of Pac-Man as well, various onscreen fruit can be eaten (or jumped on, rather, since the giant mutated fruit looks to be too big to eat) for points, and ringing an onscreen bell not only produces a lovely chime, but it also replenishes the fruit with ones of a higher point value. However, it's usually a dangerous thing to travel back down a screen to do this, so I wouldn't bother personally...after all, once you reach the top to free your kid (so the brat can get captured again and held for yet *another* screen) you get a bonus.

Anyway, as I mentioned the sounds, they're pretty good, with the brief musical interludes and all. Graphics are cartoonish and ok, but animation isn't always fluid and there's graphical glitches as the monkeys travel up and down the screens (one wonders what Atari would have done with improving the graphics if they were granted some creative control over them). Controls aren't the greatest either, since you have to move side to side, up and down, duck AND jump across gaps in levels using only a joystick. The game would probably work better with two buttons, rather than just the punch button and no jump button, but that made it easier for Atari to bring a fairly decent adaption home to the 2600 (think the 5200 version was good too, but I only played it once at a store display years and years ago and don't really remember it).

The first level is pretty much your easy beginning platform level, whereas the second one has several gaps to jump across. The third one is totally different, having just a tower of monkeys to punch out (yay! Punching monkeys rocks!) and knock down to bring your kid's cage down to your level (although why a bunch of monkeys thought it was a good idea to put a cage on top of a living monkey pyramid is beyond me). And the fourth unique screen I don't think I've ever seen, but the Kangaroo entry at the Killer List of Video Games site states that the level's a bit of a strange conglomeration of ladders and gaps, and the monkeys throw apples at you unpredictably; oh yay!

Even though I put my share of tokens or quarters into this game back in the day, it isn't quite as fun or as good as Donkey Kong or the plethora of other platform games that came out for personal computers and all (Aztec, Montezuma's Revenge.) Still one of TAT's site owner Greg's favorites though, even though a guy I met at a gaming expo from the past December had a different opinion of it (specifically saying "NOT Kangaroo!" when asked what game to photograph him next to; sorry Greg!).

And until someone decides to come out with a retro platformer game, lets not have the lead character be a kangaroo, ok? Bring on the goats! (Someone want to write a review of Canyon Climber for the Atari computers from back in the day, which had goats on one of it's screens?)


(c) Atari

Prepare to be punched.
Level design was a bit weak. It's just back 'n' forth...
Take that you evil monkeys!
System: Arcade
Publisher: Atari
Genre: Platformer
Graphics Score: 70%
Sound & Music Score: 80%
Gameplay Score: 80%
Control Score: 75%

Final Score: 75%

Reader Comments for Kangaroo

Yeah, I like the game. What of it!? by Greg George on 2014-02-10 22:30:00
Not sure why I've always liked this game. I think it's just fun punching those monkeys. And the music is cute. And it's Atari's version of Donkey Kong. And it was a game I was pretty good at. Besides, who doesn't want to help that poor baby kangaroo?!
Controls Sucked by Jump, JUMP, JUMP!!1! on 2014-04-06 22:35:41
Kangaroo is not a bad game but the controls kill it. It really needed a jump button instead of jumping with the joystick. Many a dead 'roo from accidental or mistimed jumps.
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