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In Montezuma's Revenge the player, as Panama Joe, has a small five-slot inventory shown at the upper left of the screen. Several items are available to collect. Red and blue keys to open correspondingly colored doors, swords to defeat the rolling skulls, scepters to grant temporary invincibility and torches to light up dark levels.
Montezuma's revenge had bonus areas between levels where the player fell through levels populated only by gold bars and chains. The player would need to grab the chain before the end of the bonus area to land safely at the beginning of the next level.
Levels were small variations on each other. Level 3 would seem to be a repeat of level 1 at first, but would have a door requiring a different key at some point. The player would need to backtrack and take a different direction to find the required key.
On dark levels, none of the platforms ladders or chains would be visible until the player found a torch. This would require blind exploration based on the general layout of previous levels before locating the torch and revealing the platforms for the rest of the level.