Indiana Jones, Helmet Nesingwary, Harry Pitfall – different incarnations of the same man: adventurer and risk-taker, neverending treasure-seeker getting himself in all sorts of trouble on the way. And that’s what this game is about.
In the game, you’re mr Pitfall. Apparently you are helplessly lost in the jungle and you’re going deeper and deeper to… I don’t remember actually. Find a treasure? Get back to home? Rescue princess? All of the above? But I remember, it took a great deal of preservance and skill to help him out in this. Pitfall collects gold treasures and is pushing forward through the caves. He sometimes swims, trying to avoid electrical eels, sometimes flies on the baloon (watch out for deadly bats) but most of the time just runs, climbs and jumps over wild animals trying to kill him. That would be frogs, ants, scorpions, butterflies… you know, all sort of these dangerous ones, not lions or tigers, bah, who’s scared of them anyway? What I remember most from the game, was the sense of adventure, “epicness” of it, given the machine it was played on (Atari) and also the sense of swimming – it was the first game I know allowing the main character to swim and it felt very “real”, Pitfall was pushed up, slowed down, he moved his arms to crawl further, he could dive in to the bottom, to look for treasures… it was nice.
There were few music patterns, i.e. from 1:15 you will hear a minor-keyed part that was played when player touched a creature. Nothing terribly bad happened then, but the player was moved back to the last checkpoint, marked by a cross on the floor. This allowed for as much attempts as you want, so if you were stubborn enough, you would always eventually finish the game. But when you saw yourself moved back through all these chambers you so carefully passed, it was really frustrating. However, when you finished the game, it was really rewarding. Maybe because back then, most 8bit games were not exactly designed with “end” in mind, they still had “saloon game machine” design, where new levels just increased the speed or complexity, making the player to fail eventually. Pitfall 2 was different – it had the beginning and end exactly planned.
Later, I’ve learned that the original cartridge for Atari 2600 with Pitfall had custom hardware built in, to boost that poor console and aid in displaying Pitfall’s smooth graphics. Imagine graphic accelerators being added to today’s games – bizarre concept.
There was another tune, when Harry reached the baloon chamber. It’s a waltz called Sobre las Olas (“Over the Waves”) by Mexican composer, Juventino Rosas. Here’s someone playing it on accordion –
More about Pitfall –