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Pitfall! is a 2D platforming adventure where the player has to find 32 treasures within a time limit of 20 minutes. Players control the character Pitfall Harry and have to guide him through a dense forest filled with deadly obstacles such as snakes, scorpions, rolling logs, alligator infested swamps, and bottomless pits.
The game had many basic gameplay elements that are now common in all platformers. Harry had the ability to jump, swing, climb ladders and run left or right on the screen. The game places Harry on the left side of the screen by default, but a player could choose to tackle the jungle by going right on the screen. The game also had many secret passages which could be used as shortcuts.
Pitfall! was created in 1982 by Activision employee David Crane. The game was a technical achievement in that it had multiple animated sprites of varying colors with no flickering. Pitfall! introduced the basic concept of having a character jump around to avoid obstacles and collect items, which is now the basis for all platformers. The game was a massive success on the Atari 2600 and had ports for numerous game systems afterwards.
The character in the game is lovingly referred to as Pitfall Harry.
- Pitfall! was used in an episode of South Park in which Father Maxy had to traverse a series of levels (with himself being the main character) to retrieve a lost scroll hidden in the catacombs of The Vatican.
- In 1982, then-unknown actor Jack Black was in a Pitfall! commercial.
- Actor Bruce Campbell of Evil Dead fame would eventually play the voice of Pitfall Harry in the Playstation version of the game.
- When Pitfall! was originally sold, anyone who scored above 20,000 points could send Activision a picture of his or her television screen to receive a Pitfall Harry's Explorers' Club patch.
- In Marvel Ultimate Alliance, the player must complete a game of Pitfall! using their own character in order to proceed in a mission.
- In Call Of Duty: Black Ops II: this game is playable through a secret in the Nuketown 2025 map.