No (Arm)Pit Of A Game Here, The Sequel (Pitfall II Review, Atari 8-bit Computers)

Buy This Item Pitfall! was nothing short of an incredibly amazing game when it debuted on the Atari 2600, arguably giving birth to the side-scrolling genre (actually the screens didn't scroll until you reached the end of one, but that was close enough), it was one of the small handful of adventure-type games to come out for that system, and it had over 200 different screens, among several other things that made it one of the most beloved titles in 2600 history.

Then Pitfall 2 changed the perspective -- and added to the "wow!" factor -- by adding a lot of new elements, like having Pitfall Harry swim through one of the early parts of the game -- guess Harry needed to cool off after meeting one of his fearsome new foes of the dreaded frog (oh no) -- but that didn't make this game a sell-out, though, especially with the next part of the game involving a bunch of platforms that he had to climb through, and then spaces to jump to snag awaiting gold bars to add to his score. You never saw a 2600 game like this before, with all those caverns stacked on top of each other like that!

Leading to more parts of the game afterwards included a balloon that would ascend Harry to different sets of caverns (dunno where this balloon came from, unless it was from some vendor who later disappeared [and his little monkey too!], or got done in by a scorpion), including one that would lead him to his lost niece, Rhonda. More caverns appeared after that, and then the final nightmare of caverns included bats and condors that are MANDATORY in ducking under in order to make it to the end of the game, which you had to be pretty versed (and patient) in ducking under their wings at juuuuust the right moment as they flapped, or else touching them would transport you back to the previous red cross you touched...

Oh yeah, did I mention those? Rather than having lives, Harry would be transported back to the last cross he touched, losing points along the way until he touched down on the last cross. Kind of sucks, but oh well, and the added, constant soundtrack (never before heard in a 2600 game) was also one of the few deterrents of this game (some didn't mind it, but others got sick of it, since you couldn't turn it off!).

Once you reached Quickclaw, your cowardly mountain lion companion, the game would end (if you could make it through that last maze of bats and condors and all), as he was too busy shaking in his boots to do much of anything else (if mountain lions have boots...but then, he was also briefly a Saturday morning cartoon, so anything was possible). A pretty colossal game, to say the least.

Now, normally that would end the review right there, as Activision was notorious for porting 2600 versions of their games to more powerful consoles (Atari 5200, Colecovision, etc.), but barely doing anything to them, aside from tweaking the graphics a tiny bit, and maybe adding one or two minor new elements to them, and that would be it. Big waste of additional computing power there...

However, Pitfall 2 was a BIG exception to the rule, as once Harry reached the "end" of the game, some kind of portal (or something) would open up, and once Harry ran into it, he would be transported to another entirely big, new world, which really kicked butt. There was also some new stuff too, like an "erratic bat" (as a friend of mine called it), that flies in this fast, jittery manner all over the screen that is difficult to get past; you had to wait until it flew underneath the floor, then jumped over it. (Kind of made you wonder what the deal was; good thing there was no way for Harry to drink the water that he swam in, since maybe there was something *in* that water.)

About the only (minor) problem with this game is that there's no way to skip to the second world if you already played the first one to death years before on your 2600 (I think, it's been a while since I played it), you just have to climb your way down through the first one, ignoring all the treasures, except for Quickclaw and Rhonda, which actually doesn't take too long...except for that last section, where you have no choice but to duck under all those condors and bats. That is one awesome new place afterwards, though.

My only question, though: if Quickclaw is supposedly a "cowardly mountain lion", how the hell did he get so deep into the caverns in the first place? 10/10

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