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North American box art.

Pitfall! is a platform action adventure game designed and developed by David Crane and first published by Activision for the Atari 2600 in 1982. It was later ported to several other consoles and home computers. It is a pioneer in the platform game genre.

Because Atari ROMs had so little memory, David Crane cleverly used a polynomial to generate the game map. The player has to collect all 32 treasures spread across 255 rooms within a 20 minute time limit. Playing straight through the map, the player only has about 4.7 seconds per room to traverse the entire map, so it's very important to use the underground passages to skip 3 rooms each time they're used.

I first played Pitfall! in the mid-1980s on my family's Atari. It was one of my favorites for the system, and I always dreaded the worst screen, three alligators with no vine! It wasn't until the 1990s that I was good enough at the game to get a decent score.


I might have this game in my parent's attic. I have not beaten it, but I have scored well-above the 20,000 necessary to be part of the Pitfall Harry Explorer's Club.


  • Overall: 4/10
  • Best Version: Atari 2600


  • The game is well designed, fun to play, and presents a good challenge.
  • For the time, the graphics, sound, and game play were all above average.
  • The use of a polynomial for a map was a very creative idea for creating a large game world with little memory.


  • The polynomial, unfortunately, makes the game's map entirely arbitrary.
  • There isn't much content to the game. You'll see everything the game has to offer after only a few minutes.


  • Nothing.

Box Art