Now one would think that I’m personally trying to make The Retroist kick me off the site by choosing to play an arcade port of not only one game he didn’t care for but two in a row with Popeye and now Kangaroo. This is probably not an issue and if it was I have probably done my penance by playing this pretty pitiful port of an arcade classic.
Kangaroo has you taking on the role of a female Macropodidae with…boxing gloves…who must rescue her baby who has been kidnapped by a bunch of monkeys. To get your little joey back you are going to have to go through some pretty harrowing ordeals…at least for a kangaroo. Most of them involving dodging fruit, grabbing certain other fruits for points, and punching monkeys in the face.
When I plugged in the cartridge and flipped on the power switch I was greeted by the title screen and after pressing the fire button on the joystick found myself ready to go. Kangaroo has to navigate up three levels of what is supposed to be tree canopies to reach her baby who is always at the top of the screen. Also at the top of the screen a bouncing apple will practically track you and plummet to bonk you on the head, usually with aggravating frequency when you are climbing a ladder or in mid leap with no hope of getting out of its way.
Climbing down the tree trunk on the right hand side of the screen are the kidnapping monkeys, who’ve decided the best way to stop you from reaching your baby is to wind up and hurl an apple at you, which you can avoid by ducking it if they’ve aimed high, or jumping over it if they’ve decided to knock your feet out from under you. If they happen to climb onto the same ‘branch’ as you and if you are lucky you can knock them out before they bean you with their weapon of choice. The manual says that you can punch the hurled apples for 100 points and the dropping apple for 200 points but considering how poor the hit detection is I’ve found the best bet is to avoid punching anything and make straight for the top of the levels to the panicking little joey.
There is a bell in each level that Kangaroo can punch that will make three different fruits such as strawberries, tomatoes, cherries, and pineapples appear in various areas of the level. You can strike the bell three times in each level so that you can scarf up some extra points. The strawberries net you 100 points each, tomatoes 200 points, cherries 400 points, and those pineapples will bring you 800 points.
The first level is supposedly the easiest of the three offered but I cannot stress how bad the hit detection is on this title. I’d rush
towards a monkey to give him a jab in the face before he could hit me to only find myself plummeting off the tree because the game
registered that I had touched the monkey instead of punching it. So like I’ve said above I quickly adopted the avoid everything game plan and just headed to the top of the level with all due haste.
The second level is by far the hardest since you have to jump on logs to reach the upper levels, I found myself plummeting to my death a few times until I got the hang of it. Kangaroo must land perfectly on each log, no skipping the smaller logs to get to a higher area, you’ll just fall if you don’t land flat on your feet. There is also a little problem of when you are on the smaller logs and want to reach the level above you, you’ll have to climb up but since there is no ladder on the screen I found myself once again losing lives as I tried to jump up to the ledge above it.
The third level if you go by the manual says its a mixture of both the first level and second in terms of difficulty? I found it to be the
easiest of all three…but that is because I avoided collecting the fruit, ringing the bell, or stopping to plant my glove into the face
of the nearest monkey. Once you’ve reached your little joey the screen begins to flash and the you start back on level one but the difficulty has been increased.
As a youngster I enjoyed the arcade Kangaroo, I liked the cartoonish graphics and to be honest it’s level design is similar to Donkey Kong, which I was a rabid fan of so that probably helped but the 2600 port is a title that I have to say most players should skip over if they find it.
The graphics are okay and the music is at least close to the arcades catchy tune but the lousy controls and hit detection have me so
frustrated as to bestow a mere two stars to Kangaroo.