Pitfall!

Name:
Pitfall!
Company: Activision
Model #:
AX-018
Programmer:
David Crane
Year: 1982
Released?
Yes
Notes:
Full name: Pitfall! (Pitfall Harry's Jungle Adventure)

 

Pitfall is undeniably one of the most creative, entertaining, and challenging games ever to grace the 2600.  Not only did Pitfall maintain the Billboard charts top slot for 64 consecutive weeks, but it was named Video Game of the Year in 1982.  Not many games can boast that kind of popularity!  Pitfall is a true classic in every sense of the word, so if you haven't played it yet stop reading this page and go buy it now!

 

Pitfall! is an action game starring none other than the famous Pitfall Harry (nothing like having a game named after you to tweak your ego a bit).  You must guide Harry through 255 screens of hot steamy jungle in order to recover all 32 fabulous treasures which just happen to be laying around in broad daylight (isn't that always the case?).  However your journey is not without peril: deadly snakes, blazing fires, scorpions, swamps, tar pits, and deadly crocodiles all stand between you and the treasures.  Oh did I forget to mention that you only have twenty minutes to complete your quest?

 

Each screen is separated into two parts, the jungle and the underground tunnels.  The underground tunnels are a special shortcut which will allow Harry to advance three screens for each section of tunnel he runs through.  If you're going to have any chance of grabbing all 32 treasures before the timer runs out then you're going to need to learn how navigate these tunnels.  Unfortunately the tunnels happen to be inhabited by scorpions which must be jumped over (proper timing is critical).  These nasty little buggers even managed to make their way into the sequel!

 

Above ground Harry must avoid a large variety of enemies:

Rolling Logs Ever wonder what set these things in motion in the first place?  Whatever it was, it appears that it gave these logs some kind of perpetual motion because they never stop rolling.  If Harry happens to be flattened by a log he'll only loose a few points.  This may not sound so bad, but being hit will also slow you down for a sec, which can throw your timing off!
Snakes These have to be the laziest snakes I've ever seen, because they won't move a muscle to try and bite Harry.  Snakes are completely stationary and only deadly if Harry accidentally touches one.  Carefully jump over them and move on.
Fires Guess there are some Boy Scouts in the area, because campfires just don't light themselves (or do they?).  Either way, fires act just like snakes and are only deadly if Harry happens to jump into one.  Harry should really douse these fires or they'll burn the jungle down!  No time for that however, Harry has a timer ticking away.
Crocodiles The absolute worst enemy in Pitfall!  Not only are these guys deadly, but time consuming too!  Harry must carefully jump from head to head as he makes his way across the swamp, but if he's on the crocodiles mouth when it opens it's bye bye Harry (Harry can safely stand on the head however).  Careful timing will allow Harry to quickly jump across all three crocs before they snap.
Holes Looks like some idiot has decided to dig holes all over the jungle (probably looking for buried treasure).  Falling into a hole will cause Harry to drop down into the tunnels, and cost him a hundred points.  Try not to fall into the holes, that's what the ladders going in and out of the tunnels are for!
Tar Pits & Lakes Tar pits and lakes come in two flavors: stationary and moving.  Stationary tar pits and lakes are always visible on the screen and have a vine for Harry to swing over them on (time to do your best Tarzan impression).  However moving tar pits and lakes are a little more devious, for they open and close unexpectedly.  Moving tar pits and lakes are timed to open without warning (sucking poor Harry down if he's caught), and close just as rapidly.  There's just enough time between the opening and closing for Harry to run across the screen safely.  Timing is crucial however, as even a slight delay can mean death.

 

Collecting all 32 treasures in the twenty minutes you're allotted is a difficult proposition, but can be done with the help of a map and alot of practice.  Unfortunately there's no special ending for getting all the treasures, and the game will abruptly stop as if the timer had run out.  Still, being able to collect all the treasures is a huge accomplishment and well worth the bragging rights.  Most gamers will never be able to accomplish this feat.

 

While most people consider Pitfall to be one of the best games on the 2600, many people complain about its rather high difficulty level.  If you think beating the game on three lives is difficult, just think how hard it would be with only one?  According to recent interviews, David Crane had been experimenting with making Harry mortal (that's one life folks) only a week before the game was released!  Thankfully David came to his senses and left Harry with three lives, but you have to wonder what the game would have been like with only one life.  Would Pitfall have been anywhere near as popular with such a high degree of difficulty?  Probably, but it sure as heck wouldn't have been nearly as much fun.

 

Version Cart Text Description
??????   Early WIP
??????   Late Stage WIP

 

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