Pitfall!
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7  |  No Greased Grapevine Here
Darryl B. , 10/25/2005 12:27:37 AM
There sure was nothing else like Pitfall! once it was released for the Atari 2600: no other game had over 250 screens (unless you could clear that many waves of Space Invaders, but they weren't different), the level of difficulty (getting through an ENTIRE game without losing points by being bonked by anything, collecting all the treasures, and not losing all three lives...yeah, good luck with that one), taking place in a jungle (not many games did), or just some of the weird-assed elements that are presented in the game (which I'll get to), among other things.

So, you control Pitfall Harry (who must've been born from hippie parents, with a first name like that), as he runs about in a jungle to accumulate treasure while avoiding, jumping, ducking, or swinging over (must be a helluva exotic aerobic workout) various...well, pitfalls, if you want to excuse the poor choice of a pun there.

However, it seems like Harry is romping through a bit of a magical forest of some kind, due to a bunch of constantly swinging vines that he has to use often, as there doesn't seem to be any wind of any kind, or else it would surely blow out a bunch of constantly lit fires (another obstacle Harry has to avoid), which seem to be some kind of eternal flame was used for all of them.

On one of the regular routes (the player can choose to take either a left or right path at the beginning of a new game), Harry most contend with constantly rolling logs (must be the magical wind thing again), holes leading to the underground route (I'll get to that in a bit), and stationary logs. Either running into a log or falling into a hole (which can be easily jumped over) will cost you points.

Killing you upon contact, though, are some kind of weird pits that open and close on their own; if there's no handy vine to use to swing over them, you must time it correctly by running as soon as the pit (magically) closes up. Bogs full of crocodiles -- minus vines (these are the least fun) -- also must be jumped on (the crocs, I mean) to make it across, once their mouths are closed; if their mouths are open -- which the crocs all open and close their mouths in unison, being synchronized eaters, I guess -- Harry is swallowed whole. Going DOWN!

Also costing you a life is when you run into a fire (kids, don't play with fire) and some kind of a snake known as a "cobra rattler" (say WHAT?).

You know, this is one VERY strange civilization that existed that Harry is exploring, as it seems to me they tampered with nature to come up with this weird stuff (or creator David Crane tampered with *another* kind of nature -- puuuuuuff...cough -- that gave him these ideas...*if* you know what I mean), especially once you go underground, which one underground screen is equal to three above-ground screens, which it's needed to tamper around with these to figure out which screens will get you through the game the fastest (you have a 20 minute time limit) without losing out on the treasures that you might be passing up overhead.

(I'll get to the treasures next, but what the heck ARE these odd "three in one" underground caverns? Were these left over from an Indiana Jones movie? Was this ancient civilization like the trap-making people from centuries ago from that film? Were they from Atlantis? Egypt? Uh, right, I've got too much time on my hands to add weird, speculative nonsense here, so...)

Anyway, the treasures are pretty nice, being bars of silver, gold, a bag of money (hopefully not counterfeit), and the coveted diamond ring. Nice that you don't have to try to guess and substitute the weight of these things with a bag of sand, either, and they're just laying around waiting for you, right out in the open! (Guess the bogs are full of people who were earlier explorers who failed in their quest before you; bottoms up!)

So, ENOUGH with the 2600 version I've gone over, when am I going to get to the Intellivision part of this review? Oh, well, all of this WAS the Intellivison review: Activision was pretty notorious for barely doing much of anything to their games when they later released them for a system other than the 2600 (for their games that debuted on the 2600, that is), and Pitfall is no exception; all that was done to this game was a few minor graphical tweaks and a little change to the controls (instead of pulling down on the joystick to get down from a vine on the original, you have to press a button on the controller here to do that).

It's a shame that Activision didn't add some kind of a mini-game at the end as a reward for collecting all the treasures, like how they would later include an entirely new world for the Pitfall 2 sequel later on the Atari 5200 and personal computer line, but that didn't happen here (after all, SURELY they must have had a few extra K lying around!). Oh well (and hence my slightly lower score for this game, since barely anything was done to it).

So, this game really isn't worth having if you played the 2600 version to death unless you're just trying to obtain the entire Intellivision collection, or a friend of yours has the 2600, you played it, thought it was cool, and so you have to have it for your Intellivision. After all, those crummy Intellivision controllers hardly hamper the action at all, for once.

So, no greased grapevine there. 7/10

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