Video Game Review

Pitfall cover

WM - Pitfall Review

Atari 2600

Released: 1982

Produced by: Activision

Pitfall!, developed by Activision and designed by David Crane, is a 2D platformer game initially released in 1982 for the Atari 2600. As one of the earliest platforming games, Pitfall! gained significant attention for its innovative gameplay mechanics, challenging level design, and charming visuals. In this review, I will discuss various aspects of the game, including the story, gameplay, graphics, and sound.


Pitfall! puts players in the role of Pitfall Harry, an intrepid adventurer on a quest to collect lost treasures hidden within a dangerous jungle. While the game's narrative is minimalistic by today's standards, it provides a straightforward and compelling goal for players to pursue, setting the stage for many future platforming titles.


Pitfall! features side-scrolling platforming gameplay, with players navigating Pitfall Harry through a hazardous jungle filled with obstacles such as quicksand, rolling logs, fire, and deadly creatures. The game's core mechanics involve running, jumping, and swinging on vines to traverse the environment and avoid dangers.

One of the key innovations of Pitfall! is its non-linear level design, which allows players to explore the jungle both above and below ground through a series of interconnected screens. This design encourages exploration and rewards players who discover shortcuts and alternate routes.

With a limited time of 20 minutes to collect all 32 treasures, Pitfall! provides a challenging and engaging experience that tests players' reflexes, timing, and problem-solving skills.


For its time, Pitfall! featured impressive graphics that brought the game's jungle setting to life. The game's simple yet charming visuals, such as the iconic vine-swinging animation and recognizable enemies like scorpions and crocodiles, helped immerse players in the adventurous atmosphere of the game. The graphics in Pitfall! laid the foundation for future platformers and demonstrated the potential for visual storytelling in video games.


Pitfall! features minimalistic sound design, with a limited but memorable array of sound effects. The game's iconic jumping and vine-swinging sounds have become synonymous with early gaming nostalgia. While the Atari 2600's hardware constraints limited the game's audio capabilities, the sound effects in Pitfall! effectively complemented the gameplay and contributed to the game's overall charm.


Pitfall! is a classic Atari 2600 title that played a significant role in shaping the platformer genre. With its innovative gameplay mechanics, challenging level design, and charming visuals, the game provided a memorable and engaging experience for players in the early 1980s. Pitfall! remains an important piece of gaming history and serves as a testament to the creativity and vision of its designer, David Crane. For those interested in the origins of platforming games or looking to revisit a beloved classic, Pitfall! is a timeless adventure worth exploring.

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