Pitfall: The Mayan Adventure

Atari Jaguar

from AEO Magazine, Volume 4, Issue 9

 |||   Jaguar Review:  Pitfall: The Mayan Adventure

 |||   By: Mark "Stingray" Santora

/ | \  GEnie: AEO.4   AOL: MrSantora


Since the Jaguar's release, a little over two years ago, the most

popular games for the system have been the updates of "classic" games.

I am of course referring to Tempest 2000 and the upcoming Breakout 2000

and Defender 2000. These games seem to generate considerable more

interest than Super Duper Mortal Street Combat Fighter XXIIV games -

and with good reason. The original versions of these games are what

spawned todays programmers. They look to the classics with reverence -

even GameBoy has some "classics" out.

The term "classic" games refers to those games in the early to mid

1980's when playability was more important than following in the

latest fad. Most of the games did not have endings, and given your

skill could be played for hours on end while the difficulty just

continued to get harder.


//// Pitfall Classic


If you are a first generation gameplayer, than you must have heard of

the original Pitfall! It was written by David Crane for the Atari

2600.  When it came out, it was the game to beat, and on the Atari

2600, I would be hard pressed to say that no other game captured my

attention as much as it did. The original Pitfall was simple - take

the role of Pitfall Harry (the original Atari Explorer) and run around

on two platforms, grabbing as many jewels and goodies as you can in

under twenty minutes, while trying not to fall in the pits or the

lakes with alligators, get stung by scorpions, or run over by logs.

You could run, jump, swing from a vine, and climb ladders. I'm sure

I'm forgetting a few objects, but you get the idea.


//// Pitfall: The Next Generation


Now Activision has pulled out all the stops to update their classic,

and I gotta tell you, they've done one hell of a job. The plot is

simple, after years of gallivanting around the world, Pitfall Harry

decided to settle down and have some kids. Well, he had a son, Harry,

Jr., who's a lot like his dad - fearless and full of adventure. Seeing

this in his son, this awoke the feelings in Harry Sr, that he hadn't

felt since he settled down. So, he decided to set out on an expedition

with his son to the Mayan Pyramids in Central America. Once there,

Harry Sr. was captured by the evil Warrior Spirit Zakelua. Armed with

his father's notes, a slingshot, and some attitude, Harry Jr. is going

after the biggest treasure of all time, his father.


//// Playing the Game


As is standard with all platformers, as Harry Jr. you can run left and

right, jump up, crouch, and even crawl. That constitutes the main

moves of Harry Jr. However, like his father, Harry Jr can swing from

vines, and even the unconscious carcasses of snakes (more on that

subject later). Unlike his father, Harry Jr. is armed with weapons.

He has a slingshot that slings rocks. (which are plentiful throughout

the game.) He can also use the slingshot as a whip so he does not have

to waste the rocks, this is a good weapon for mice and spiders -

basically those things that are small and close to the ground. Using

your slingshot, you can charge your throws so that they do more


Throughout the levels you might be fortunate enough to find boomerangs

and exploding stones. The boomerangs whip around until they've hit and

killed everything on the screen. The exploding stones are very useful

when things get a little crazy in front of you.  One of these puppies

will clear a nice path for you. You can also ride ziplines, jump on

items (like spider webs or tongues of statues) to bounce you into the

air, bungee jumps, riding runaway mine cars, climbing ropes, and

swinging on vine. As you can tell, the gameplay is varied and never

gets boring.

The screen is laid out rather well with information easily accessible

without being obtrusive. In the upper left hand corner of the screen

in the score. In the upper right hand of the screen is the number of

lives you have left and and image of Harry Jr being chased by a

crocodile. As you loose health, the croc gets closer. You don't want

to let him get too close or else you lose a life. In the lower right

hand corner is is a numeric representation of the amount of the

treasure you have collected so far. Every 50 pieces you collect, you

get another continue. And in the lower left hand corner is the weapon

that you are using and the number of them you have to use (you can not

run out of the whip and you select the weapon by pressing the option


There are a lot of bad guys, and they are very different. First, there

are your basic skeletons. These baddies bounce around the ground as

heads and then when you get close, rise up and start swiping away at

you with their very large swords. Once you hit them, they go down, but

their heads continue to bounce around and eventually reform the entire

body! So, after you knock them down, it's a good idea to take another

swing against the bouncing heads.

Secondly are your snakes, mice and spiders. These are just about

everywhere on most levels. They are very quick and hug the ground.

Using your slingshot against them is usually a futile move. Use the

sling/whip. Ditto for the blood-sucking bats and the butterflies. (!)

Next, you get to play with the Spirits of Chaac. These guys will

really kick your butt if you don't watch yourself. They are fast and

fire at you without mercy. You also run into gargoyles that come to

life and throw axes at you, they're not too fun either. The manual

mentions vapor ghosts - but I haven't seen them yet. There are =many=

other baddies around: monkeys, swinging Great Balls o' Fire, spikes,

temple priests, etc. You won't get bored.

At the end of most levels you run into bosses. These little beasties

(tm. Yak) will jump all over you and rip your health away. They take

multiple hits, but there is a percentage meter above the screen to

tell you how good or bad you are doing. Sometimes, the end-of-level

boss isn't living, and you have a split second to figure out how to

deal with it.... Every time that you complete a level the game asks

you if you would like to save it. Unfortunately there is only one game

save, so only one player can play at a time. Of course the control pad

is completely configurable, so you can adjust the settings to your



//// Graphics


This conversion of Pitfall was handled by the lovely people over at

Imagitec in the UK. They were responsible for last year's Bubsy and

Zool 2 conversions. I know some people didn't like those games

because they weren't "64bit looking," whatever that means. But even

those nay sayers will be impressed by the graphics in Pitfall. They

are very sharp and colorful. The animation is also excellent falling

short only of Rayman status - and for a platformer, that's pretty

darn good. Harry Jr. is animated slightly better than an afternoon

cartoon. Everytime he moves, there is a new expression, his jacket

flares up when he jumps or swings, and he goes into a levitating

trance if you leave him unguided for too long.

The enemies are not overlooked here, either. They are animated

excellently, almost as well as Harry is. Not that it should be that

distracting, after all you have to dispatch them very quickly. Also

the lack of colors, seeing how the Jaguar has so many, they could have

easily been put to good use here by fixing it up. Aside from that,

the graphics rock.


//// Sound


The sound in Pitfall is also very good. There is different music for

each of the levels I have played so far and each movement has a

different effect. Even when Harry Jr. runs, you here his feet crunch

down on dried grass, cement, etc. The music is equally good, never

becoming obtrusive and causing you to get distracted from the game.

It is also of high quality, no distortion that I can hear. The sound

is used very well throughout this game and you can tell that the

programmers payed just as much attention to it as they did to



//// Playability


It's all here. You run, jump, shoot, crawl, swing, slide, ride, and

even find treasure. What else could you ask for in a great platformer?

The control is dead on and this game is just fun! On top of that, once

you reach the fourth level, if you find your may to a door which is

guarded by a really simple looking scorpion (it's white and real boxy

- like it was done in the "classic" days of gaming) when you go

through it, you are close to being transported to the original world

of Pitfall.

Yes the original is here - all 4K of it, or was it 8K? Anyway, you get

the three lives like the original and get to play until you lose them.

After that, you are transported back to Pitfall:The Mayan Adventure

and continue to play Jr. exactly where you left off with no loss of

time or lives.


//// Conclusion


Pitfall is beautiful to listen to, to look at, and to play.

Everything is there to keep you hooked for a while.  It actually plays

a little easier than Rayman, so if that was a little hard or too

frustrating for you, than this is definitely the place to go.  And if

Rayman was fun for you, than you will enjoy this as well.

I never thought we'd end up in a time where so many good games were

coming out for the Jag. I know I can't afford to get them all. But if

you like platformers, than I highly suggest this one. It really shines

and Imagitec have done a great job with it.


//// Final Ratings


        Title: Pitfall:The Mayan Adventure   JagNet: No

    Developer: Imagitec                     Players: 1

 Published by: Atari                      Cart Size: 4 Megabyte

       Retail: $59.95                   Availability: Now

 A Summary of Ratings:

              "*" is a whole

              "+" is a half

               5 stars Maximum

 Graphics - ****+    Really sharp. Nicely animated.

    Audio - ****     Really good. Very clear and solid.

  Control - ****     It's on. You move, Harry Jr. moves.

 Gameplay - *****    It's a good game and it'll take time to

                     finish it - but you'll enjoy it.

  Overall - ****     Above and Beyond a solid effort. Worth your

                     time and money.

Pts Stars  AEO Ratings

""" """""  """""""""""

 10 *****  GAMING NIRVANA!!! - You have left reality behind... for good.

  9 ****+  Unbelieveable GAME!! - Your family notices you're often absent.

  8 ****   Fantastic Game!! - You can't get enough playtime in on this.

  7 ***+   Great Game! - Something to show off to friends or 3DOers.

  6 ***    Good game - You find yourself playing this from time to time.

  5 **+    Ho-hum - If there's nothing else to do, you play this.

  4 **     Waste of time - Better to play this than play in traffic.

  3 *+     Sucks - Playing in traffic sounds like more fun.

  2 *      Sucks Badly - You'd rather face an IRS audit than play this.

  1 +      Forget it - ... but you can't; it's so badly done, it haunts you.

  0 -      Burn it - Disallow programmer from ever writing games again.

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