As seen in: Congo Bongo (Arcade)
Distinguishing feature: The early 80s videogame version of Theodore Roosevelt.
Strengths: As fearless as Roosevelt.
Weaknesses: As many brain cells as pixels.


Profile by Justin Fairchild | February 6, 2010


Congo Bongo's Safari Hunter made the briefest impression in arcades and on home computers, before disappearing deep into the jungle. Perhaps he was ashamed how his game shamelessly aped Donkey Kong, only in forced-3D perspective, and mercifully foregoing damsels in distress or sequels that taught basic arithmetic. The unnamed explorer shimmied over four levels of jagged terrain full of snakes, monkeys, rhinos, perilous lakes and precipices. And while the nefarious ape hurled coconuts rather than barrels, Congo Bongo's home ports were so homely and blocky that the difference was indistinguishable.

But there are other potential reasons we've heard so little from the Safari Hunter since his original expedition in 1983. Given the technology of the day, consider how shamefully unprepared he was against his environment -- a whole jungle of perils and disease, and this Safari Hunter only had his wits and his feet. Given the lack of basic preparations such as, say, a gun, or even a machete -- it appears wits weren't so much involved in this adventure.

Even Theodore Roosevelt had his trusty elephant rifle and Smithsonian sponsorship in tow when he went trekking into the real Congo. Unfortunately for Roosevelt, the constant adventuring took its toll: he returned from a South American safari with malaria, hundreds of plant and animal specimens, a newly-discovered river that would later bear his name, and at least ten years shaved off his life. The capybaras alone would have eaten Congo Bongo's Safari Hunter alive.


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