The Game: As Pitfall Harry, you’re exploring the deepest jungle in search of legendary lost treasures, whether they be above ground, hidden strategically next to inescapable tar pits or ponds infested with hungry gators, or in the underground catacombs under the guard of deadly scorpions. (Activision, 1982)
Memories: Pitfall! – subtitled The Adventures of Pitfall Harry – was the first blockbuster title from Activision, a software house formed by four former Atari programmers. Activision consistently turned out addictively playable and – bearing in
mind the 2600’s graphic limitations – gorgeous games. After all, Activision’s core gamesmiths knew the Atari 2600 hardware better than anyone, and were able to avoid such common, erm, pitfalls as flickering sprites and big, clunky pixels.
The staying power of Pitfall! is such that it inspired a fantastic sequel – possibly the best Atari 2600 game ever – Pitfall II: Lost Caverns, the most expansive adventure game that ever graced that platform. Such sequels as Pitfall: Beyond the Jungle and Pitfall: The Mayan Adventure have added to Harry’s family tree and kept the quest going through various 3-D iterations.
And in one final historical footnote, Pitfall! was one of those extremely rare games in the 1980s – right up there with Choplifter and Lode Runner – which proved to be so popular that it was translated from a home video/computer game into arcade form.