A classic Activision
franchise created by David Crane. The original Pitfall!
was released on the Atari 2600
in 1982 and established the foundations of the multi-screen Platformer
genre: running and jumping over obstacles as you travel from left to right. The only real sequel followed in 1984, also for the 2600; Pitfall II: Lost Caverns
introduced elements like exploration, true scrolling, and an interactive soundtrack
that reflects how well you're doing. It also received an arcade adaptation by Sega in 1985, which was a hybrid of the first two games with two completely new areas added.Super Pitfall
, largely a port of the sequel, occurred in 1987. It was on the NES and terrible. Let us speak no more of it.
Besides, The Angry Video Game Nerd
has said it all in his video
on the game already.
The series was revived on the SNES and Sega Genesis in 1994's Pitfall: The Mayan Adventure,
a fun if sloppy platformer in the same vein as Aladdin
and Earthworm Jim
. Two more revivals came later, this time in 3D: 1998's Pitfall 3D: Beyond the Jungle
on the PlayStation
, and 2004's Pitfall The Lost Expedition
on the PS2
, and GameCube
(and ported to the Wii
in 2008 as Pitfall: The Big Adventure
). All of these games include the original Pitfall!
as an Easter Egg
; Lost Expedition
and Big Adventure
contain Pitfall II
In August 2012, the series celebrated its 30th anniversary with an iOS Game
in the Endless Running Game
genre, the first product by Activision's mobile studio The Blast Furnace.Pitfall!
has also left its mark on television. In its first season, the Ruby-Spears Saturday Supercade
cartoon featured segments based on the game, and a 1982 commercial for Pitfall!
starred a young Jack Black
The Pitfall series features examples of:
- Adaptation Expansion: The arcade game, strangely enough produced by Sega, featured enhanced versions of the overworld of the first Pitfall and the underworld of the second, and added Minecart Madness and Temple of Doom stages. The Atari 800 computer version of Pitfall II was also expanded.
- Adventurer Archaeologist: Pitfall Harry and his son.
- All There in the Manual: ...why in the world are you trying to find a cougar that stands upright like a man in Lost Caverns? Well, did you ever see the Saturday Supercade cartoon that was out back during the 80's based on the first game? He was the Team Pet and his name was Quickclaw.
- Animated Adaptation: The Saturday Supercade cartoon series.
- Balloonacy: Harry uses a balloon to traverse a large open area in Pitfall II.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: In The Mayan Adventure, if you make Harry Jr. jump into a quicksand, he waves goodbye at you while being sucked down.
- Canon Immigrants: Rhonda (Harry's niece), and the aforementioned Quickclaw were originally created for the aforementioned Saturday Supercade adaptation, but appeared in Pitfall II afterwards.
- Captain Ersatz: To Indiana Jones.
- Check Point: in Pitfall II player deaths slide the player back to the last checkpoint they crossed, shown as little red circles on the ground.
- Classic Cheat Code: On the Sega Genesis version of The Mayan Adventure: the level select cheat was B, Right, A, Down, Right, Up, B, Left, A, Up, Right, A. Which, of course, makes one wonder just who Brad and Laura are...
- Continuity Reboot: The Lost Expedition.
- Corridor Cubbyhole Run: Pitfall II has at least ten "floors" in a row which entirely consisted of walking across the screen as a bat flew towards Harry and having to run Harry under the bat only if the wings were flapping up.
- Cowardly Sidekick: Quickclaw.
- Darker and Edgier: Pitfall 3-D: Beyond the Jungle
- Dark Reprise: If Harry dies in Pitfall II, a minor version of the Theme Music Power-Up plays.
- Direct Continuous Levels: The arcade game does this.
- Dungeon Bypass: It's very possible in The Mayan Adventure to jump your way through the arenas where the second and third bosses are fought and get to the exit without triggering the boss fight (though this was removed in at least the Sega CD version.)
- Easter Egg: The Atari 8-bit and 5200 versions of Pitfall II had an entirely new level after you beat the game that was longer than the actual game itself. This may be the largest relative Easter egg in any game.
- Embedded Precursor: Ever since the 16-bit days, it's traditional for Pitfall games to include the original 2600 game buried in there somewhere.
- Everything Trying to Kill You: Actually sort of averted in the first game - I mean, those crocodiles can hardly be blamed if they open their mouths while you're standing on them. Played straight for the rest of the series, though.
- Excited Game Title!: The original game.
- Flip Screen Scrolling: The first game had nothing but Flip Screen Scrolling. The sequel introduced smooth scrolling, but only when traveling vertically.
- Jungle Japes: Right down to the swinging vines.
- Mayincatec: The Mayan Adventure
- Minecart Madness: The third area in the arcade game.
- Also a stage in The Mayan Adventure.
- Money for Nothing: The treasures that Harry finds are only good for Scoring Points, with the exceptions of the original game and The Lost Expedition.
- Parents in Distress: In The Mayan Adventure, the objective is for Harry Jr. to rescue his kidnapped father, who appeared in the original games during the 8-bit era.
- Pit Trap: Pits just love to open under you. Hence the name, I guess.
- Precision-Guided Boomerang: Subverted in The Mayan Adventure. Boomerangs are one of three weapons in the game, follow an improbably far-reaching curved path, and float around in the air upon return. They do disappear if you don't grab them again, however... and they don't return if they hit an enemy.
- Retraux: In Mayan Adventure, when Harry Jr. finally finds his dad, Harry Sr. looks exactly as he did during the original 8-bit games. As in, literally a few featureless pixels in the rough shape of a man, using only four colors. Strung up on a highly detailed, realistically shaded 16-bit altar. (And remarks "What took you so long?")
- Shout-Out: In the original game, Harry yodels like Tarzan when swinging on a vine.
- Also in the original game, when you lose a life, the "Danger Ahead" theme plays.
- "Simon Says" Mini-Game: The Mayan Adventure has a similar game involving pull-levers in some bonus levels.
- Small Reference Pools
- Super Drowning Skills: Played straight in the first game.
- Super Not-Drowning Skills: Pitfall II had elaborate parts where you swim — and this is an Atari 2600 game.
- Temple of Doom: If you're indoors in a Pitfall game, you're probably inside one of these. The arcade game had one for its final stage.
- Theme Music Power-Up: In Pitfall II every time you grab a treasure or rescue someone a galvanizing, heroic, upbeat theme vaguely reminiscent of the Indiana Jones anthem plays. One of the oldest ones in the book, as it was the first console game to feature PSG music, in fact the only 2600 game to have a custom sound chip.
- Video Game 3D Leap: Pitfall 3D
- Whip It Good: In Mayan Adventure, Harry Jr. uses a sling like a whip.