Pitfall II: Lost Caverns, released in 1984 for the Atari 2600, is the sequel to the popular platform game Pitfall! (1982). Both games were developed and programmed by David Crane, featuring the character Pitfall Harry as a jungle explorer. In Pitfall II, players are introduced to a larger game world that includes vertical scrolling, swimmable rivers filled with dangerous eels, in-game music, and balloons for transportation between locations.
Pitfall II was released after the video game crash of 1983, when interest in the Atari 2600 was declining. Despite this, it was one of the last major releases for the console and showcased some of the most advanced technical features for the system at the time. The game cartridge contains a custom “Display Processor Chip,” also designed by Crane, which allowed for enhanced visuals and four-channel music, surpassing the system’s standard two-channel capability.
Pitfall II: Lost Caverns gameplay
In Pitfall II: Lost Caverns, Pitfall Harry navigates through an expanded environment that includes a deep, vertically-scrolling underground. Unlike the first game, Harry has unlimited time and lives, making it impossible to lose or die. When Harry comes into contact with a dangerous creature, he loses points and returns to the last continue point (marked with a red cross) he touched along his journey.
Pitfall II features 27 horizontal levels stacked on top of each other, spanning eight screens in width. Some portions are blocked by cave walls, forcing Harry to travel through other areas to progress. Rivers and chasms replace quicksand and tar pits, and balloons allow Harry to ascend to new areas.
Two new characters are introduced in Lost Caverns: Quickclaw, Harry’s cowardly pet mountain lion, and Rhonda, his adventure-seeking niece. Both characters were created for the Saturday Supercade cartoon based on Pitfall! a year before this game was released. The game ends when Harry collects Rhonda, Quickclaw, and a diamond ring. Optional items can be collected for points, with a maximum possible score of 199,000.
Musical cues in the game act as subtle rewards and punishments for performance. The main theme plays for a short while before looping to an acoustic music section. When Harry collects a treasure, the main theme begins again. If Harry returns to a continue point after a setback, a slower, minor-key version of the theme plays. When Harry ascends using a balloon, the tune “Sobre las Olas” (“Over the Waves”) is played.