Graphics: 5
Sound: 5
Control: 5
Depth: 5
Overall: 5


By: David Crane
Published By: Activision
Released: 1982

While primitive by even NES standards, Pitfall was a marvel in 1982. Most games at the time offered one or two screens that repeated with increasing difficulty, and a main goal of besting the high score. In contrast, Pitfall offered a whole jungle to explore, with colorful, detailed graphics and animation, far beyond what the Atari VCS was typically capable of, all on a stock 4K cartridge with no special memory chips, just great design and programming.

As "Pitfall" Harry, you explore 255 screens of jungle looking for treasure, while avoiding alligators, snakes, logs, tar pits, scorpions, and more. It’s fun to explore and see what is on the next screen. Most hazards can be handled easily once spotted, and you can usually keep your man at a constant run. One exception being the alligator pits without a vine to swing on, those require careful timing.

The catch is you only have twenty minutes to find all 32 treasures, which is impossible to do if you go through all the screens in order. So you have to map out the underground caverns, which "warp" Harry three screens to one. The scorpions below ground can get a little monotonous compared to the variety of obstacles on the surface, probably my only complaint.

While not my absolute favorite – that honor goes to Seaquest – Pitfall is one of the best games released by Activision, probably the highest praise one can give a VCS game. It was the only Activision title to get a direct sequel before the industry crashed in '84, and it is also a notable precursor to the platformer genre, later epitomized by Super Mario Bros.

- Ben Langberg


Join Pitfall Harry's Explorers' Club

If you reach a score of 20,000 points (or more) on any one of your adventures with Harry, you will be eligible to join this prestigious organization. Just send us a picture of your TV screen showing your score, and we'll present you with a special Expolorer's Club membership emblem.

Useful Link

Pitfall Harry's Lost Video Game Cavern - features quite a nice guide if you don't fee like breaking out graph paper.