Follow TV Tropes


Pinball / Congo

Go To
We Are Watching You

Congo is a 1995 arcade pinball game from Williams Electronics. Based on the Michael Crichton film adaptation, it was designed by John Trudeau and illustrated by Kevin O'Connor.

As with the movie, the player is leading an expedition to Africa, and quickly runs across a lost city, a diamond mine, and lots of Killer Gorillas. Elude poisonous snakes, avoid the rabid bears, and dodge the hippo attacks on the way to Zenj. Consult the Map and decipher the hieroglyphs, then follow the lava flow around the volcano and be prepared when it erupts for multiball. For more riches, wait for the Grays to attack, then confront the giant gorilla in the lower playfield and try to collect the diamonds he guards.

Among pinball enthusiasts, Congo is the textbook example of an Acclaimed Flop — the game is highly regarded for its impressive ruleset, challenging layout, stirring soundtrack, and a bevy of toys, including a snarling gray gorilla sculpted by Stan Winston himself. However, the game is often overlooked due to the box-office failure of its license, and it had the misfortune of being released during the decline of arcade gaming in The '90s. Congo ended up as Williams' worst-selling game of the year, with only 2,100 tables made, and the game is now highly coveted among collectors as their rarity increases.

This pinball demonstrates the following tropes:

  • Advanced Ancient Acropolis: Zinj.
  • All-Natural Gem Polish: Played straight with the diamonds scattered around the playfield, which all shine bright and are perfectly cut.
  • Cash Gate: Though not strictly a currency, Diamonds are the main reward of this game. Some modes are locked until you acquire a certain amount of Diamonds.
  • Chekhov's Volcano: The volcano erupts to start Volcano Multiball.
  • Combos: There are several combos in the game, and each one rewards from 5 million to 20 million points.
  • Convection, Schmonvection: The right ramp loops around the base of the volcano and follows a lava flow.
  • Easter Egg: If the operator "Special Mode" setting is on, playing a game when the clock hits 12:00am starts Midnight Madness. The game falls dead, draining the current ball, then starts a four-ball multiball frenzy where every target is worth 3 million points. Each target hit is accompanied by various Written Sound Effects on the display.
  • Hollywood Natives: The playfield has several "Ghost Tribe" natives, all shown topless and with ash-grey skin.
  • Jungle Opera
  • Killer Gorilla: All over the playfield, unsurprisingly.
  • Law of 100: Collecting 100 diamonds starts Super Multiball.
  • Mythology Gag: Several of the images sent during Satellite Transfer refer to John Trudeau's classic Creature from the Black Lagoon, including the snack bar vendor and the man yelling "Move your car!"
  • Sentry Gun: The upper-left flipper serves as a Perimeter Defense Gun, which shoots lasers (and pinballs) at an attacking gorilla.
  • Shell Game: Shooting the Mine Shaft displays a set of tunnel entrances; one leads to several diamonds, some lead deeper and award points, while the others result in an attack from a bear or a snake.
  • Spelling Bonus: Z-I-N-J enables the Mystery Saucer, A-M-Y increases the bonus multiplier and enables Amy Mode, H-I-P-P-O enables the Video Mode, G-R-A-Y starts Gray Attack, and C-O-N-G-O collects the lower playfield reward.
  • Skill Shot: The standard Skill Shot is to hit the lit kickback target for an award. Alternately, soft plunge the ball into the left outlane for a Super Skill Shot worth 25 million, and try to shoot the Map Saucer for a Kickback Combo.
    • In the Skill Fire mode (a Map award), the player tries to do nothing but make skill shots (either variety is acceptable) for a short period of time.
  • Talking Animal: Dr. Elliott's pet gorilla, Amy, who frequently gives instructions to the player.
    Amy: "Player one catch ball."
  • Take That Player: Amy will insult you if you tilt the game.
    Amy: "Player one ugly."
  • Team Pet: Amy.
  • Translator Collar: On the backglass, Amy is shown wearing her translation glove.
  • Treasure Map: Shooting the Map Saucer displays a map on the display; at each juncture, the player can choose one of three routes to take and travel to either the Volcano or Diamond Hunt Multiball.
  • Video Mode: You steer a boat down the river, avoiding rocks and attacking hippos along the way.
  • Violation of Common Sense: As mentioned above, the Super Skill Shot involves plunging the ball into the left outlane. The kickback will always trigger and save the ball too, even if the ball saver is disabled.
  • Wizard Mode: Super Multiball, which is available after collecting 100 diamonds. All four balls are ejected to the playfield, and the lower gorilla playfield becomes active. Shoot the ramps and saucers for 10 million points, and spell CONGO on the lower playfield for 50 million.

Amy: "Amy want play pinball."