Colecovision’s Ports of Popular Arcade Games – Congo Bongo, Time Pilot, Zaxxon

Sega produced some quality titles for the Colecovision, one of them, Turbo, I already discussed. Two more titles, Congo Bongo and Zaxxon vary in their quality but still hold memories for me as a kid. In Congo Bongo you play as a safari hunter chasing after a big ape named Bongo all because he played a prank on you while you were sleeping. As anyone familiar with early arcade games can attest, plot is irrelevant for good gameplay. The playfields have a tilted isometric view and in the first level you must avoid Bongo’s coconuts while climbing up platforms to reach him….sound familiar? I remember playing Congo Bongo a few times in the arcade as I was a big fan of Donkey Kong, the game looked similar and the term “derivative” wasn’t yet in my vocabulary. I never really thought much about Congo Bongo during and after playing it indicating it was fairly forgettable. The Colecovision version is one of the nicest looking (oh my god, the Atari 2600 version looks horrendous) home console ports out there but it only includes 3 of the arcade’s 4 levels. Not much to see here but it’s an ok game overall.

Zaxxon on the other hand is a much more memorable Sega title where you take controls of a spaceship blasting your way through an (again, isometric) enemy fortress before meeting with the leader, Zaxxon. You’ll need to take out targets, avoid or blow up both land to air missiles as well as those shot at you by enemy fighter planes. Refill your ship’s fuel by blasting fuel tanks while avoiding running into walls and electrical barriers by attempting to judge your height and position on the screen. This is by far the most difficult part of the game as the odd viewpoint takes a little getting used to. Also, when there are enemy planes in the darkness of space, you can’t use their shadows to determine what height they are at, which is problematic. I first played Zaxxon not in arcades but on an Apple IIe computer. I had a fried with an Apple IIe circa 1986 and this was one of the games he had. Today, I own a loose copy with manual plus a complete in box an unopened copy. It was one of those bundled Colecovision game purchases I made back in the early days of eBay and this was part of some NOS someone was looking to unload. Since I have a playable copy, I have no intention of opening my second copy anytime soon.

Finally, Time Piot was one of my personal favorite arcade shooters back in the day. I enjoyed the level design where you fought your way through various war time eras in US history (WW1, WW2, Vietnam, early 80’s and a hypothetical alien war in the future ie 2001). After defeating the requisite number of enemy planes the final level boss will appear on screen. Once that plane has been defeated, you’ll advance to the next time stage. You’ll have an opportunity to also save parachuting allies for bonus points. As much as I like this game in the arcades I do admit I have difficulty maneuvering my plane with the Colecovision controller in the precise manner needed to spin it around and blast all the enemies around me in a 360 degree fashion. The controller just isn’t responsive or comfortable enough to be able to handle this control aspect in my opinion. As a result, the Colecovision version, in spite of looking good, cannot win me over having played the arcade version so much.

Currently in my collection:

Congo Bongo – game only C

Time Pilot – game only B-

Zaxxon – game, manual plus one complete in box, unopened copy B+

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