The Many Faces of......Pitfall
by Doug Saxon

Pitfall! is one of the all-time classics and probably Activision's most popular release back in the day. This game was so popular that it is included in four different classic systems' libraries and even its sequel made it to three of the systems. Not only that, but Pitfall! is fairly common for all four systems. The systems in the race are the Colecovision, Intellivision, Atari 2600, and Atari 5200.

Disqualified: Intellivision
Though it was decided this game was the worst of the four, it's by a small margin. All four were very close. Unfortunately, this version is the same graphically and visually, if not slightly worse than the Atari 2600 version. It is also a bit awkward to play with the thumbpad controllers. It's a shame, because the Intellivision has more capability than the Atari 2600.

Bronze Medal: Colecovision
The Colecovision version is a bit of a disappointment. Even though it has pretty colors and a cool introduction, this game is rough to play. Even with your favorite controller, this game is awkward. For one thing, it's too easy to jump to the rope, miss it somehow, and then die. All that keeps this game from maintaining the last spot is its cool intro. and good graphics.

Silver Medal: Atari 5200
This version has by far the best graphics and sound. If you have the infamous Masterplay Interface that allows one to use an Atari 2600 joystick to supplement the 5200 controllers this version would be the best by a landslide. Unfortunately, play with the analog controllers keeps it from the receiving the gold. Play is fine on all but one screen. The screen where Pitfall Harry jumps onto the alligators to cross the lake is unnecessarily difficult and frustrating, because often the player has to precisely steer Harry onto the heads of the alligators. You can imagine how difficult this could be with those controllers!

Gold Medal: Atari 2600
It's amazing the Atari 2600 version received the gold medal considering it was the first release and it is the simplest piece of hardware. A game like this requires only decent graphics, sound, and control, with the last being the most important. From this perspective, the Atari 2600 version seems to be the best overall. Since I've gotten back into classic gaming, I can easily say I've played this version more than any other version and something tells me most other classic gamers have done the same.

(Doug is an engineering student who is also a big time game collector. His main systems are the Atari 2600 and Atari 5200. He can be reached email at saxondj@email.uc.edu).
 

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