Atari 2600 Game
Produced by: Atari
Year of Release: 1983
Hippitty hop. Don't you want to be a Kangaroo too? Now you can with Kangaroo for the Atari 2600. Help Mama Roo rescue her stranded little Joey. Make her hop, climb, and leap her way up to the top of the tree (but watch out for those darn monkeys). Be sure and eat any fruit that you might see along the way (fruit helps keep a Kangaroo strong).
Kangaroo is based on the arcade game of the same name. Gameplay is similar to that of the Donkey Kong series. With the addition of missiles to dodge (well actually it is fruit, that the monkeys throw at you). This game requires a certain touch. I never could get very good at it (and I tried and tried). The arcade version is much easier.
Move the controller from left or right to hop, up or down to climb or descend ladders (or duck). Moving the controller diagonally will do a super leap (just a jump really). Use your red button to punch out the monkeys.
(From the instruction manual).
When a monkey moves toward you, ready to throw an apple, watch the
direction of its throwing arm. If it winds back underhand, the apple
will be thrown low, so jump over it. If it winds up overhand, the
apple will be thrown high, so duck under it. As you progress to
higher levels, apples will be thrown mid-level, so either punch them
or jump over them.
Time your ladder climbing carefully so you can be out of the firing
range of falling apples.
Monkeys are usually most dangerous when you move away from them, so
try to move toward them so you can punch them before they can throw
Time your jumps carefully. Mother Kangaroo can leap from the edge of
a branch or log, but she must land flat on her feet. When preparing
for a Super Leap, make Mother Kangaroo walk to the end of the log
with her toes hanging over the edge. Then pull the joystick back and
immediately push it up in the direction of her leap.
For a high score, climb up and down each screen until every type of
fruit is picked.
There were 3 different label variations on this title (2 different pictures, along with a color change). This game is valued at around $2 USD. As always, games with boxes and manuals are worth more.
The Arcade Version and the story of my Kangaroo machine
The arcade version of Kangaroo was designed by Sun Electronics (but licensed to Atari). This game was released in 1982. Gameplay is pretty much identical to the Atari version, with the addition of an extra level.
Kangaroo machines that came in a dedicated cabinet featured some wonderful cartoon sideart of a hopping Kangaroo. This brightly colored machine is a favorite with some collectors (and is difficult to find).
I acquired my Kangaroo machine in September of 2002. I was browsing the classified advertisements and saw this ad "Arcade game - Kangaroo, needs work $200". I didn't actually have $200 to spend, but I called the people anyway. It turns out that the machine had a bad monitor. I secretly got excited, and explained to the people that new monitors cost almost $300. They agreed to take $100, and I said I would be there in an hour.
Now the reason I was excited was because I had a freshly rebuilt monitor in perfect condition, so I knew I would have the game working in short order. I quickly called up my only friend who owned a truck, but he wasn't home. That meant I was going to have to use my car. Now you can get an arcade game in a Chrysler LeBaron convertible, but it isn't pretty, and it takes a ton of rope to tie the thing down properly.
The game was on the other side of town, about a half hour away. I got there and was pleasantly surprised to see that it was in almost perfect condition. I plugged it in to verify that it played blind, and then wheeled it out to my car. After manhandling it in, I tied it down, drove one block, and then promptly stopped and tied it down with 8 more ropes. Then I heard thunder! Rain would have been horrible at this point, but luckily the game gods were only toying with me, and then rain never came. My game made it home without incident.
I got my first real good look at it after I took it out of my car. I was very impressed with the sideart. Most people don't like to talk about it, but Atari tended to skimp when it came to putting pictures of monkeys on their games. Asteroids doesn't even have any monkeys on it at all! But luckily Kangaroo isn't like the others, it features over a dozen assorted monkeys adorning the cabinet!
I got out my spare monitor and did the switch. It went in without issue, but I had to install it upside down because not all game makers agree on which direction a vertical monitor should go.
Now I could actually play! This game came with a very high quality joystick. It was a red ball-top unit that used leaf switches and a rubber centering grommet. I can now understand why people pay so much money for old unused arcade joysticks, they are so much better than the new microswitch ones that there is no real comparison at all.
Next up on the agenda was cleaning the machine. The front cleaned up perfectly. Not a scratch anywhere on the front at all. I will have to repaint the coin door, but that is a simple project that I will do next time I am painting stuff black.
The sideart turned out to be in much better shape than I thought. It seems that 90 percent of what looked like scratches, was actually paint from something else, and it washed right off. There still were a few small scratches left, but they were all on the white area, which can be easily touched up!
Now that I actually own one, I can say that it is a great game to add to your arcade game collection. They aren't cheap, but they are certainly cheaper than the ever so popular Ms. Pac-Man. Ebay auctions suggest a price between $200 and $500 for this title.
Two weeks later I fixed the original monitor by replacing the vertical output transistors, which cost me $9.