It’s a jungle out there!
Subtitled, “Pitfall Harry’s Jungle Adventure,” Pitfall takes you on a dangerous adventure in search of the “Treasures of Enarc.” However, the road to riches is paved with hazards. Along the way, Harry must encounter such dangerous obstacles as Cobras, Scorpions, Bogs, Lakes, and Crocodiles.
Pitfall is one of the best “quest” games available for the Atari VCS system (others include Adventure and Riddle of the Sphinx). It combines skill, strategy, and timing into a game that is always fun - and often frustrating-to play. Pitfall is game designer David Crane’s sixth cartridge for Activision and is graphically stunning.
The essence of Pitfall is timing — if you haven’t got it or can’t develop it, stay out of the Jungle! Harry’s world is made up of 255 different scenes that he may move through, one at a time, in either direction. Each screen features one or a varying combination of obstacles Harry must confront. Many contain Treasures. The screens appear in a predetermined order so, when you’ve played the game a bit, you can memorize their sequence.
We found 29 Treasures of Enarc in 200 screens (the manufacturer insists there are 32). Who is Enarc? Here’s a clue: Try looking at the word in another way and his identity should be clear.
for Atari VCS
Game Play: 9
To stay alive and find as many Treasures in the Jungle as possible and accumulate as many points as possible within the 20-minute time limit.
Pitfall uses the Atari joystick controller (left controller only). Moving Harry around the Jungle is easy. Pushing the joystick to the right or left moves him in that direction. Pushing it up or down will enable Harry to climb up or down Ladders. Pushing the action button makes him jump. Jumping is the way Harry avoids obstacles, reaches Swinging Vines, and hops across Crocodiles’ heads.
Pitfall Harry: This is you, brave and strong, decked out in Jungle attire. Harry gets three lives; he can be killed by either: a) touching a Scorpion, Cobra, or Fire; b) falling into a Lake or Bog; or c) being eaten by a Crocodile.
Each scene in Pitfall consists of an above- and below-ground section. Only by falling into a Hole or climbing down a Ladder can Harry move from one to the other. Most of the action occurs above-ground — that’s where all the Treasures (and most of the obstacles) are. Below-ground, Harry finds only Scorpions and Brick Walls. Scorpions, as it turns out, are very difficult creatures to deal with. To offset this, each below-ground scene covered equals three above-ground screens. As you will see later, the below-ground scenes can be used as shortcuts to the Treasures.
Holes and Tunnels: Harry can climb into or out of a Hole if there is a Ladder available to him. If Harry accidentally falls into a Hole, he will lose nothing more than points and a few seconds of time while he climbs out. Holes are Harry’s entrance to the network of Tunnels that run under each screen. Since one underground screen is equal to three aboveground screens, Tunnels can be used as shortcuts. However, Tunnels may also lead to brick-walled dead ends. All Tunnels are guarded by deadly Scorpions.
Bogs and Lakes: Bogs and Lakes appear as either stationary or disappearing hazards.
All stationary Bogs, and many stationary Lakes (those without Crocodiles) must be crossed by Swinging Vines. Position Harry near the edge of the Hazard and press the action button when the Vine is overhead. Harry will grab the Vine and swing across the obstacle. You’ll be treated to a nifty electronic “Tarzan yell.” Push down on the joystick at the farthest point of his swing and Harry will land safely on the other side.
Stationary Lakes with Crocodiles, but without Swinging Vines, can only be crossed by hopping across the Crocodiles’ heads when their mouths are closed (this is the most tricky maneuver in the game — more on this later). Disappearing Bogs and Lakes open and close approximately every three seconds. Your timing must be sharp to run across these areas before they reopen. If there is also a Swinging Vine overhead, use it.
Logs: Logs are the only Pitfall hazards that do not cost Harry a life if he runs into them - only points. To avoid losing points, Harry must jump over the Logs. They may be either just blocking the way, or rolling from right-to-left. Logs may appear individually or in groups of up to three.
Scorpions, Cobras, and Fires: If Harry touches any of these, he’s a dead man! Scorpions always appear in below-ground Tunnels. Cobras and Fires always appear on the surface. To avoid these hazards, Harry must jump over them.
Treasures of Enarc: Harry need only touch a Treasure to collect its point value. A Moneybag is worth 2,000 points; Silver Bar, 3,000 points; Gold Bar, 4,000 points; and Diamond Ring, 5,000 points. A perfect score would be an (we think) impossible 114,000 points (prove us wrong).
The Pitfall cartridge contains only one game without variations. However, with more than 200 screens built into the game, who needs them? Difficulty switches are not used in Pitfall.
Although the cartridge is programmed to display more than 200 individual screens, most everything you’ll encounter in Pitfall can be found in the first seven scenes. Let’s “walk through” these screens one at a time.
Scene 1: This starting scene is of the easiest type — nothing moves except Harry. While keeping the joystick pressed to the right, you’ll need only touch the action button when Harry gets close to the edge of the Hole. He’ll jump right over it and continue running to the right. Jump over the Stationary Log in the same manner, as illustrated in Figure 1. Keep the joystick pressed to the right and enter the next scene.
Scene 2: Here you’ll have to deal with three Holes a Ladder, and two Rolling Logs. Keep the joystick to the right until Harry reaches the first Hole. Wait there until the Logs are about to run over Harry, and then jump over the Logs and the Hole at the same time. Jump over the second Hole (the Ladder is useless, it leads to a brick wall that Harry cannot get past) and stop by the edge of the third Hole. Wait for the Rolling Logs to reappear (they wrap around the screen) before jumping the third Hole (see Figure 2). Use the same strategy as before.
Scene 3: Now you’ll have to cross a Bog by Swinging Vine and deal with two Rolling Logs that can be trouble. Run to the edge of the Bog, wait for the Vine, and leap just before the Logs are about to hit Harry’s legs. Harry is shown swinging across the Bog in Figure 3. Remember, if you dawdle, the Logs will reappear. Pull back on the joystick to release Harry on the other side of the Bog, jump the Logs, and proceed to the right.
Scene 4: This is your introduction to Harry’s greatest nemeses: the Crocodiles. There is no way to cross a Crocodile-inhabited Lake (unless there is a Swinging Vine) without using their heads as stepping stones. Unfortunately, the Crocodiles open their mouths every three seconds. Should you land on one of their mouths when open, well, they’re just wild about (the taste of) Harry! Fortunately, there is a spot at the back of the Crocodile’s head where Harry can safely stand, even when the mouth is open.
There are two ways to deal with the Crocodiles. The first is the fastest and most dangerous; the second is slower but safer.
Fast/Dangerous: Time your run towards the Lake so that Harry’s last footstep on land occurs as the Crocodile’s mouths begin to close. Keeping the joystick pressed to the right, press the action button as you make contact with each Crocodile’s head. If you time it right, Harry pogo-sticks across with four bounces. If not….
Slow/Safe: Run to the edge of the Lake and wait for the Crocodiles to close their mouths. Leap onto the first Crocodile’s head and stop at the back. Wait for them to open and close their mouths again, then jump Harry to the second Crocodile and again wait at the back of his head (see Figure 4). Repeat this once more after the Crocodiles have again opened and closed their mouths. When you are at the back of the third Crocodile’s head, you can leap safely to dry land whether his mouth is open or closed.
Scene 5: As soon as you leave the Crocodile scene, jump, because a Rolling Log will be right there at the beginning of Scene 5. This screen contains three Rolling Logs in all.
Scene 6: This screen features a Bog, a Swinging Vine, and a Cobra. Time Harry’s run toward the Bog to coincide with the swinging of the Vine. Don’t worry about the snake. There is plenty of room on the other side of the Bog to land — and even take a step — before having to leap over it. He is an easy obstacle.
Scene 7: At last, your first piece of Treasure — a Gold Bar! However, to claim your prize, and 4,000 points, you must first cross a Disappearing Bog. Maneuver Harry until he is directly beneath the space between the second number and the colon in the timer and wait for the Bog to appear. The instant it begins to disappear, bolt for the other side. If you think the Bog is about to appear again and you’re not quite clear of it, jump! Use this strategy for all Disappearing Bogs and Lakes without Swinging Vines.
Claim your prize, as illustrated in Figure 5, and proceed to the next scene. Enjoy the Gold Bar — your next Treasure (another Gold Bar) won’t appear until Scene 28.
Scenes 8-255: The remaining Pitfall screens contain variations or combinations of the elements included in the first seven.
As soon as you become proficient at traveling through the combinations of obstacles in the above-ground scenes, you’ll find that you need more than 20 minutes to find all the Treasures. To speed your journey, use the underground shortcuts. For example, if you take the Ladder in Scene 14 down to the underground tunnel and follow it to the right, two screens later you’ll be able to climb a Ladder above ground to Scene 20.
Other worthwhile shortcuts include screens 15-33, 25-37, 38-62, 63-87, 90-99, 133-184, 186-204, 209-224, and 244-250. Note, however, that most of these shortcuts will cost you points in the form of missed treasures.