Pitfall for the Atari 2600 was one of the first endless runner games ever made for a home console. The adventures of Pitfall Harry captured the gaming hearts of little boys and girls everywhere as he swung on vines, jumped over deadly snakes and scorpions, avoided crocodiles and collected tons of treasure. Now you can relive Harry’s adventures with this 30th anniversary re-imagining of the adventure classic.
Just when you thought endless runner games had (pun intended) run their course, developers like Activision are finding ways to breathe new life into the genre. Pitfall! is the latest endless runner game, but with a retro theme and new ways to play, you’re going to be surprised at how enjoyable of an experience it is.
Guide Harry through an endless path of jungles, caves and villages as he tries to escape a volcano that’s going to erupt. Controls are simple — swipe up to jump, swipe down to slide, swipe left or right to turn on the path and tilt your device to move Harry on the path. The swipe controls are very precise and don’t punish you if you make a mistake. Swipe down when you wanted to jump? Hurry up and correct yourself and Harry will do the same on screen.
But what about those pesky snakes and scorpions? No problem. Tap the screen and Harry will whip them out of the way. Miss once and you’re poisoned. Miss twice before you can recover and it’s game over. Sometimes the tap wouldn’t work though. It’s kind of touchy on my iPad. Your game also ends when you run into an obstacle or fall off the path.
The graphics are really bright and colorful. I loved the jungle sounds and voiceover work. Harry makes some nice quips during the game to keep you entertained. (Even he’s amazed by the foolishness of it all.) The neat thing about this endless runner experience are the various perspective changes during the game. It really keeps things fresh and exciting. I also enjoyed that Harry can branch off onto different smaller paths while still staying on the main pathway. Enter a village and run up above instead of below. You can also ride animals and motorcycles, and the mine cart sequence is really exciting.
One of the biggest gripes about endless runners is when you die, you have to start from the very beginning. They’ve got that covered too. Earn tokens to spend on checkpoints that you reach during the game. Everytime you level up your player you earn diamonds. Diamonds can be spent on tokens in the Store. As you play the game, you’ll also collect silver and gold bars (just like in the original Pitfall) which can be used to purchase power-ups, items and outfits.
It’s a cluttered and messy currency system. If you don’t feel like waiting around to earn diamonds, you can purchase more in the game but it’s pretty expensive to do so. The menu system is also kind of weird. Sometimes a certain menu will appear that allows me to click on my token so I can continue. Other times it’s not there and I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because I don’t have enough gold bars? It’s a shame the menu system is so crowded and confusing. One thing I thought was really cool was the Explorer’s Club. Back in the day, 2600 players of Pitfall could earn a Pitfall Harry’s Explorer Club patch if you took a picture of your high score and mailed it in to Activision. Now you earn them by simply playing on your device. It’s a fun way to collect badges and earn achievements.
Pitfall! really stands out among the crowded mess of endless runner games. Do yourself a favor and download it. It’ll take you back to those days in front of the 2600. And who knows, maybe you’ll finally earn that explorer’s badge you’ve always wanted.