The Game: As Pete, you start out in the center of a multi-tiered mine – not at the bottom – and your boulder-smashing pick axe begins to deteriorate after about one minute. Then you either have to jump over or duck under the onslaught of falling rocks, or you’re toast. Falling to the lower levels won’t kill you, if you time it just right so as not to land right in the middle of an avalanche. When two boulders collide, they can uncover treasures such as a fresh pick axe or, more importantly, a key to the next level. As you progress through the levels, one horizontal space is deleted somewhere on the screen at random, progressing on until you have a death-trap of open space where rocks can bounce right up into your face. (North American Philips, 1982)
Memories: As far as this gamer was concerned, Pick Axe Pete! was the greatest game ever created for the Odyssey 2. Far from your typical arcade adaptation, you can get further in this game by short stretches of furious action when you’ve got an axe to grind and then waiting patiently for the key to the next level to arrive.
As the Odyssey’s best nod toward the Donkey Kong variety of climbing games (following the bizarre Monkeyshines), Pick Axe Pete was befuddling and seriously addictive, in a spend-hours-in-front-of-the-TV sort of way. As for how strong the Donkey Kong influence was, Pick Axe Pete started life as Hammerin’ Hank – but the outcome of the K.C. Munchkin lawsuit meant that Hank was outfitted with a new name and a new implement of destruction as quickly as possible.
I have been known to play one round of Pick Axe Pete out to three or four hours. I did mention this was addictive, didn’t I?