Ten Minute Game Review: Pitfall!

Wow. It’s been a long while since I wrote one of these. I think I’ll celebrate the twentieth entry with double goodness, in the form of a twenty minute game. THE twenty minute game.
Game #20: Pitfall!
Format: Atari 2600
My Copy Is: Cart only and in rather poor condition.

Back in 1982, all heroes had rainbows coming out of their bottoms. It was the style at the time.

I spent the day today tidying up my living room, building a desk with my lovely wife, and uncovering all sorts of old junk. A lot of which i’ve now thrown out. One thing I did uncover (underneath, amongst other things, a Namco NeGcon, possibly the stupidest controller in existence) was an Atari 2600 that I hadn’t switched on since… since… at least since I did a multi-game marathon of every game I owned right before my wedding day, something I covered a while back in an ABC radio interview.
You were listening in, right?
Anyway, the Atari 2600 in question hadn’t been switched on for over a decade. I’d played 2600 games in the meantime, but that was largely down to finding an Atari 7800 by the side of the road.
I feel it’s important to note that I’m NOT making that up.
Anyway, grabbing a cart at random, I sat down to test if the trusty old black beast was still working.
That game was Ms Pac-Man.
Hah! Bet you thought I was going to say Pitfall!, right?
OK. That was the second game I tried.
Pitfall! Is the grandaddy of all platform games. Forget Mario. Everything Mario ever learned, he learned at the feet of Pitfall Harry. It’s also nicely tough, with 3 lives, very solid collision detection and a hard 20 minute time limit. Get to the end of the jungle in 20 minutes, or it’s game over, my friend. So I slotted the game in, confident I’d probably get two games in within my self-appointed 10 minute time limit.
Ten minutes later
Can’t type. Somehow still alive, with no lives lost.
This random picture of a Pitfall! cartridge, found online, is astonishingly in better condition than the copy I've got. Perhaps I should do something about that.
This random picture of a Pitfall! cartridge, found online, is astonishingly in better condition than the copy I've got. Perhaps I should do something about that.

Fifteen minutes later
Two lives down. The first was a hidden pit trap I didn’t spot until it was way too late. The second an act of foolish bravado, jumping for a vine that was already swinging out of reach. I’ve never, ever made it this far in Pitfall! before.
And then the unexpected happens.
I actually finished a game of Pitfall!
Not completed, mind you. I didn’t get all the treasures, or break the world record, or even get to the end of the jungle. But I did manage to keep playing, constantly running and jumping for the full twenty minutes. I hit a few logs along the way, but I’m quite happy with my final score, which was…
Virtual drum roll…
Not bad for a game I haven’t touched in a decade. A better score, I’m confident in saying, than I’ve ever got at that particular game. Somehow, absence hasn’t atrophied my skills, but honed them with laser-sharp precision. That score is more than four times the amount I would have needed to get an Activision patch back in the day. I bet they’re all out of stock by now, though.
Ten Minute Game Verdict:

This is a pit. You don't want to fall into it, contrary to the game's title.

Will I keep it? Are you mad? Of course I’ll keep it. Why, at this rate, I’ll be world champion by the time I’m seventy.

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