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Pitfall Review

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Developer: Activision Publisher: Activision
Release Date: 1982 Available On: Atari 2600

When most people think of early classic platformers, they think of Super Mario Bros. But Super Mario Bros. was not the first significant platformer. Indeed, that honor falls to an Atari 2600 game called Pitfall that was created by Activision. Pitfall is one of the best-known games for the system, and would probably be among a list of the ten best games for the system in the opinion of many people. Why do I say that? Read on to find out.

The concept of Pitfall is not overly complex. You have your hero, a guy named Harry. Now, Harry is like any other human being in his desire to be rich, so he enters a jungle in which are many dangerous obstacles to search of treasure. The object of the game is to collect as much of this treasure as possible within a twenty minute time period. There are no multiple game modes, just the one game, so memorization is the way to increase your score.

The graphics in this game are simply excellent by Atari 2600 standards circa 1982. So much as the system was capable of at the time, the jungle looks like a jungle, the hero looks like a guy, and also snakes, crocodiles, and other enemies look like they should look. The sound effects, to some people, may seem a bit basic, which is par for the course on the system, but they are quite good and most all of them are appropriate. I have never quite understood the need for a “boing” sound when a platformer hero jumps, but such has all but become the standard by now, so I will not complain too much.

The world of Pitfall is reasonably complex, laid out in over 250 screens. No, the screen does not scroll, but that is a minor gripe. You hit the edge of one screen and you appear at the opposite edge of the next one. You can travel in whichever direction you want to travel in, whether it be right or left. There are also underground passages that can be used to move faster, although you skip screens in the process. Over time as you play the game over and over, however, you will start to learn the order of the screens.

Many different types of obstacles exist to be overcome, whether it is jumping from crocodile to crocodile over a water or quicksand pit, swinging on a vine over such a pit, or jumping over logs, snakes, scorpions, or other things. That being the case, it never feels like you are doing the same thing over and over even though the game is little more than jump and run. The main thing is that there are no major problems with the game.

As you memorize the game and the order of the screens, it will become easier. Still, this game is going to take a long time for anybody to master, and it is one that many people are going to be entertained enough to pursue. If you have an Atari 2600 and you have never played this game, shame on you. It is relatively common so it will not be too hard to find or too expensive to buy, so, if you own an Atari 2600, you owe it to yourself to try this game.

Graphics: 9
Sound: 8.5
Gameplay: 8.5
Creativity: 9
Replay Value/Game Length: 9
Final: 9
Written by Martin Write a User Review