(Activision, 1982)

"Crikey! Look at the size of them Crocs!" Pitfall was one of those rare games for the Atari 2600 that broke new ground for action and adventure back in the early eighties and it really helped the new company Activision (who were actually made up of ex-Atari employees mad about not getting any credit for their work) get on the map. Imagine a cross between Nintendo's Donkey Kong and Atari's Adventure and you get David Crane's legendary Pitfall! Here is a look back at one of Atari 2600's greatest hits.

The game is simple, help the hero Pitfall Harry collect up to 32 lost treasures of the unforgiving jungle filled with deadly scorpions, quick sand, rolling logs, and lots more. You earn points by collecting the lost treasures but you can also lose these points every time Harry is hit by a rolling log which you have to be careful of. Since this is the first ever side scrolling 2D platformer of it's kind you have to remember that there is no way to kill your enemies, earn any power ups or anything special like that, but you still need a lot of skill to survive and the fact that you only get three lives and you also have to start with a 20 minute time limit that doesn't help matters much either. You are in for a tough fight for survival in Pitfall.

The controls are about as easy as they get. The action button makes Harry jump and the joystick is used to move him left or right and up and down for the ladders, easy enough but that's part of what makes Pitfall so great. Harry can try his luck in the jungle or he can go into the underground caves below to find a safer passage but be careful because there could be deadly enemies or just dead ends waiting for you if you choose to go this route. There are no difficulty options or switches to change the game play neither so what you see is what you get.

"Ain't she a beauty?" Well, No she ain't! Although the game looks quite poor it should also be noted that this game is only a mere 4k cart (the same as Atari Pac Man) plus there are an amazing 255 different screens altogether which is fairly huge for an old Atari 2600 game, eh? The enemies look just like what they suppose to be, like you can tell what the crocs are and the scorpions are designed to look like scorpions so you could tell that Mr. Crane knew how to draw but they are also absolutely flat characters with no detail so don't expect to be blown away because it's been on ancient hardware after all.

You can forget about any background music here but if have an Atari 2600 than you know that's a way of life for most of their games! ............. There are some sound effects ...... ya. When Harry jumps there's some sound.......... and when he grabs a vine he does a really poor Tarzan impression......... that's pretty much it. Sorry, but you have to expect limited sounds from an old Atari system.

"Aye, Pitfall's are extremely rare now because of bigger predators and urban development but you's can still finds em in their natural environment of old smelly Flea Markets, maybe hiding in the back. We must do everything possible to make sure these rare creatures don't go extinct!"................... "Sorry but I have gone insane from writing!"

Pitfall can also be found in certain other games other than the original one for the 2600. When Activision released Pitfall the Mayan Adventure for the Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis, Atari Jaguar, Sega CD, and Sega 32x it also included the original Pitfall as a secret game. Pitfall 3D for the Sony Playstation also has the 2600 game hidden inside plus you can find it on Activision's Classics of 30 games. Hey, if you're one of those few persons, like me, who has a old system from the earlier eighties then who can find Pitfall I and II for the Atari 5200, Intellivision, and more. Please forget about that awful Super Pitfall for the NES though because I think that Activision was drunk that day when it was created.

The bottomline is that Pitfall is a challenging and fun adventure game that was years ahead of its time in terms of game play. Sadly though, adventure games have come a long way since Pitfall especially in terms of options so that why I gave it such an average rating. The game is still very playable, even today, and it was still way better than that ugly NES game Super Pitfall. David Crane's Pitfall is a landmark in video games and it deserves to be in every body’s classic gaming collection! "Try getting a perfect score of 114,000 points if you can!?"

overall rating: 62/100

Find this game on eBay here!

For 1 player only
graphics: 3/10
sound: 2/10
gameplay: 5/10
replay: 7/10

(Ryan Genno) 2007

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