Wednesday 31 August 2011


Logger, a 1982 British arcade invention by Century Electronics. It's Donkey Kong, but worse in every conceivable way. Fantastic.

Donkey Kong's epic story sees the underdog Mario Jumpman overcome the torment of a large ape who has stolen his girl. Here, a bird steals a pile of pixels before mutating and becoming a serious threat to man. STOP THE BIRD.

Logger is a Donkey Kong clone, though if nothing else I can sit here today and say it's not the worst Donkey Kong clone to be released. The levels are mostly the same, the controls are the same, and basically, if you've ever played Donkey Kong you'll know what to expect here. There's no surprises.

So I guess you'll be wondering why I think this is worth pointing out.Well, firstly clones are fun, and secondly, the game's theme is a reworking of Monty Python's The Lumberjack Song. It's not a pretty game, it hurts the ears and it's as badly tested glitch fest, but hey, it's Donkey Kong for the man on a budget... and has good taste in British comedy.

Logger is a harder game than Donkey Kong, partly because when playing you have to deal with the abysmal controls. Things feel... broken. You breathe a sigh of relief knowing that your main character hasn't broken his flimsy little legs after jumping. You have to take special care when climing up ladders, not because they're much of a danger, but because it's easy for the game to miss them. Holding up in Logger will have your character continue on his merry journey left or right, only climbing the ladder if he comes into contact with it. This means unlike Donkey Kong, you have to hold up to climb before you get to ladders, as opposed to being at the base of one. I'm sure it makes sense somewhere.

The game can't seem to cope when too many sprites are called on screen, so it tends to ration objects wherever it can. On the plus side, this means there's fewer enemies and "barrels" to contend with, but it also means there's fewer platforms in level 1-3, so it takes a lot longer to complete. On top of this, there is no equivalent to the hammer powerup - all static objects just increase the amount of points you have. You can also jump a bit further, thus bypassing a bit more of the game. It doesn't strike me as something that's been through extensive testing procedures.

Everything is uglier than you'll find with Nintendo's game. Your character's walk cycle is bizarre, the giant enemy bird keeps changing colour and many objects fail to resemble anything at all. I'm not overly sure what you're supposed to be rescuing (if anything) - this quest of yours seems just to be to eliminate abnormally large birds. It's all very tacky, but it does have digitised speech!

Logger only exists for those special breed of arcade operators who are too cheap to invest in a real Donkey Kong experience. It's very reminiscent of half-assed BBC Micro ports from around that era - rebranded to avoid copyright concerns, but lacking the quality control to keep the code up to spec. Nevertheless, it's nice to acknowledge its existence, and I like to support British industries even if they do produce crap.


  1. There are a ton of crap DK clones across all the 8-bit machines, even discounting the official ports that ended up being crap. I've seen about four or five on the C64 and there are a couple on the TRS-80 CoCo as well. I should document them for shiggles, in good ol FEFEA style. =P

  2. The most obscure Donkey Kong clone I've come across so far is "Spy Panic" for the SPC-1000
    but that's obscure Korean computers based on obscure Japanese computers for you.

    I went on a hunt for Mario clones once, though the problem is, after "Mario" is dropped from the title, they become practically impossible to find on purpose. Such is the case here.

  3. That looks like the same video chip as used in the TRS-80 CoCo/Dragon series, the Motorola MC6847. Here's just a small portion of the crap C64 DK clones: - "Crazy Kong 64" - "Crazy-Kong" - "Kong" - "Kongo Kong"

  4. Also, interestingly enough, guess what this other one is called?

    Yup. "Logger". It's way worse than this though.