Pitfall! is a platform video game designed by David Crane for the Atari 2600 and released by Activision in 1982. The player controls Pitfall Harry and is tasked with collecting all the treasures in a jungle within 20 minutes. The world consists of 255 screens which are horizontally connected in a flip screen manner. Each screen has one or more hazards: quicksand, tarpits, rolling logs, crocodiles, snakes, scorpions, campfires, and swinging vines. Pitfall! received positive reviews upon release and is now considered one of the greatest video games ever made. It is one of the best-selling games on the Atari 2600, with over four million copies sold. It was the top video game on the Billboard charts for more than a year, and helped define the flip-screen platform game genre. All versions of the game sold over 5 million copies worldwide.
The game was followed by several sequels, beginning with Pitfall II: Lost Caverns, which was also developed by David Crane and it was released for the Atari 2600 in 1984.
In Pitfall!, the player controls the character Pitfall Harry through a vast jungle consisting of 255 horizontally connected screens. The objective is to collect 32 treasures scattered throughout the jungle within a 20-minute time limit. To achieve this, players must navigate various obstacles such as pits, quicksand, rolling logs, fire, rattlesnakes, scorpions, and crocodiles by jumping, climbing, running, or swinging on vines.
The treasures include bags of money, gold and silver bars, and diamond rings, each worth between 2,000 and 5,000 points. Players start with three lives and a score of 2,000 points. Collecting all 32 treasures without losing any points from falling into holes or touching logs results in a perfect score of 114,000 points.
An underground tunnel runs beneath each screen, accessible via ladders or by falling into holes. These tunnels allow Harry to advance three screens at a time, which is crucial for collecting all treasures within the time limit. However, brick walls may block the tunnels, forcing players to return to the surface and find an alternate route. Scorpions inhabit the tunnels, posing additional dangers.
The game ends when all 32 treasures have been collected, all three lives have been lost, or time runs out. Players lose a life if Harry comes into contact with any obstacle (excluding logs) or falls into a tar pit, quicksand, waterhole, or crocodile’s mouth.
Pitfall! Atari 2600 game Instruction manual
Picture this! You are deep in the recesses of a forbidden jungle—an unforgiving place few explorers ever survive. But you’ve got courage, because you’re with Pitfall Harry, the world famous jungle explorer and fortune hunter extraordinaire. The lure of hidden treasure draws you and Harry deeper and deeper into the bush. But, being a great explorer, you wouldn’t think of starting such a difficult journey without reading this manual first—very carefully.
The object of Pitfall! is to guide Harry through a maze of jungle scenes, jumping over or avoiding many deadly dangers, and helping Harry grab the most treasures in the shortest possible time.
1. Hook up your video game system. Follow manufacturer’s instructions.
2. With power OFF, plug in game cartridge.
3. Turn power ON. If no picture appears, check connection of your game system to TV, then repeat steps 1-3.
4. Plus in left Joystick Controller. It’s the only one you’ll need. When playing, hold Joystick with red button in the upper left position.
5. Difficulty switches and the game select switch are not used in Pitfall! Each game is many games in one, with many difficulties to overcome.
6. To start, press game reset. Action begins as soon as you move Joystick.
PITFALL! – USE OF JOYSTICK CONTROLLER
–To run left or right…move joystick left or right.
–To jump over dangers…press the red button while running to the right or the left.
–To climb up or down ladders…push Joystick up to climb, pull down to descend.
–To grab a swinging vine…press the red button while running to the right or to the left.
–To let go of the vine…pull down on Joystick at the end of a swing.
–To collect a Treasure…just run right to it.
You start each adventure with 2000 points. Some misfortunes will cause a deduction of points. Should you fall down a hole by accident, you will lose 100 points. Rolling logs will also cause point loss depending on how long contact is made with them.
Each treasure you find will add points to your score. There are eight of each type of treasure in the entire game, 32 in all, for a total of 112,000 points. A perfect score is 114,000 points (reached by collecting all treasures. without losing any points by falling down holes or tripping on logs).
DIAMOND RING = 5000 POINTS
GOLD BAR = 4000 POINTS
SILVER BAR = 3000 POINTS
MONEY BAG = 2000 POINTS
You have 20 minutes to complete each adventure. Harry has 3 lives in each game (See “The Hazards of Pitfall!”) Game is over when Harry is “lost” for the third time or when time runs out.
PITFALL! SPECIAL FEATURES OF PITFALL! BY ACTIVISION
There are 255 jungle scenes through which Harry can travel. Each scene covered underground is equivalent to three on the surface. Pitfall! is a circular maze, which means that, if Harry safely goes through all 255 different scenes, he will come back to the starting point. In the course of that journey, Harry will also encounter all 32 treasures.
THE HAZARDS OF PITFALL!
Pitfall Harry’s Jungle Adventure is fraught with danger. Some hazards will slow him down and rob you of points, while others will stop him cold in his tracks. The “lesser” hazards are the open holes in the ground and rolling logs (See “Scoring”) The catastrophic hazards are the scorpions, fires, cobra rattlers, crocodiles, swamps, quicksand and tar pits. These obstacles will not cost you points, BUT they will cost one of Harry’s 3 lives.
GETTING THE FEEL OF PITFALL! BY ACTIVISION
You cannot excell at Pitfall! without acquiring a variety of skills. The most important is “jumping.” You’ll need to use both the red button AND Joystick at the same time in order to make Harry jump up to a swinging vine. Jumping is also important when you leap atop crocodile heads while crossing the swamp OR when you hurdle over logs, holes, scorpions, fires and snakes. Special care should be taken when you jump scorpions; the margin for error is less.
To practice your skills, try running to the right. Learn to jump the rolling logs and the holes in the ground first, then tackle the tougher skills of swinging on the vine and jumping over the crocodile pits. Whenever Harry is lost, you’ll get another chance to try the hazard again, since the”replacement” Harry appears on the left side of the screen.
JOIN PITFALL HARRY’S EXPLORERS’ CLUB
If you score 20,000 points (or more) on any one of your adventures with Harry, you will be eligible to join this prestigious orginization. Just send us a picture of your TV screen showing your score, and we’ll present you with a special Explorers’ Club membership emblem.
HOW TO SEEK YOUR FORTUNE WITH PITFALL HARRY
Tips from David Crane, designer of Pitfall!
(David Crane is a Senior Designer at Activision. He also designed Dragster, Fishing Derby, Laser Blast, Freeway and Grand Prix)
“As you set off on your first adventure with Harry, you’ll notice two important features: that the logs always roll from right to left, and that the “replacement” Harrys (after Harry loses a life) drop from the trees on the left side of the screen. So, to minimize the number of rolling logs to be jumped and the catastrophic hazards to be re-tried, simply run to the left.
“Pitfall Harry’s trip must be made through a maze of surface and underground passages through the jungle. To capture all 32 treasures in under twenty minutes, Harry will have to use some of the underground passages. I’d suggest that you make a map of the terrain each time you play. Knowing the jungle and planning the best route to all treasures is the only way to insure success time after time.
“Until you get really skilled at making Harry jump from croc to croc, you might wait until the crocodiles’ jaws are closed, jump to the top of the first croc’s head, then wait for the laws to open and close again before jumping to the next one. Soon you’ll be skipping across crocs like they were stepping stones in a stream.
“If you can find any writing materials deep in the jungle, drop me a line. I’d love to hear how you and Harry are getting along.”