Task: Play Pitfall! on an Atari 8-Bit Computer or Video Game Console
Needed: Emulator, SD Card Device, or Cartridges and Original Hardware
Time: 30-60 mins for watching several videos
I first played Pitfall! when it came out in 1982 at a friend’s house on the Atari 2600 console. I was hooked! It was like nothing I had seen before on the 2600. The graphics and gameplay were stunning. The game is pretty simple and I love it because it is a slower-paced game than the classics like Pac-Man. Space Invaders, and Defender. The goal is to collect treasures while avoiding things that can kill you like snakes and crocodiles. There is a clock that ticks down from 20 minutes so you have a limited time to collect all the treasures.
Pitfall! was developed by David Crane for Activision and went on to become one of the best selling Atari 2600 games. It was ported to the Atari 5200 and the 8-bit computers. The cartridges for the 2600 (green), 5200 (bigger blue), and 400/800/XL/XE computers (smaller blue and box) are shown in the photo below. This game is still tons of fun and well worth the time if you have never played it before.
This is a very common game given its popularity so it is relatively easy to find on eBay. A loose cartridge for the 2600 will run $5 to $10 with one in a box running for $20-$50.
Pitfall! for the 5200 is not as common and can run $10-$20 for a loose cartridge and usually $40 to $50 or more for a boxed copy on eBay. The prices are about the same for the 400/800/XL/XE computers.
Here is the ROM for the 5200 version.
According to Wikipedia, here is a quote from David Crane about how he got the idea for Pitfall!.
“I sat down with a blank sheet of paper and drew a stick figure in the center. I said, “Okay, I have a little running man and let’s put him on a path [two more lines drawn on the paper]. Where is the path? Let’s put it in a jungle [draw some trees]. Why is he running [draw treasures to collect, enemies to avoid, etc.]?” And Pitfall! was born. This entire process took about ten minutes. About 1,000 hours of programming later, the game was complete.”
Note that a sequel called Pitfall II: The Lost Caverns was released a few years later. These can also be found at the same sources listed above. However, it is not as common. I never played this one and have only tried it a few times. I like the original better.
David Crane and Gary Kitchen have a new Activision-like game out for the 2600! It is called Circus Convoy.