reviews\ Nov 15, 2004 at 7:00 pm

Pitfall: The Lost Expedition - PC - Review

Pitfall the Lost Expedition is an action arcade game similar to Indiana Jones and the Last Emperor and to a lesser degree, Tomb Raider.  My main complaint with those two games was the poor gameplay control on both the keyboard and gamepad.  I wasn’t comfortable playing Pitfall with my gamepad, but the keyboard scheme turned out to be very intuitive.  Players must guide Harry through a dangerous adventure that requires a lot of jumping, climbing and rope swinging challenges.  This may sound like a harrowing experience for PC gamers.  Jumping puzzles don’t always translate very well onto the PC but I must admit that I found Pitfall to be quite good and can recommend it to fans of the genre. 

After his plane crashes in the South American jungle, Harry, adventurous explorer, must figure out how to rescue members of his expedition, get rowdy with the local natives and compete with his archrival.  Harry has an arsenal of items and attacks that will help him on his quest, but first he must find them.  Most of Pitfall consists of swinging over gaping holes or treacherous chasms however there is enough variety throughout the game to keep it all interesting.  You must recover different items in order to gain access to other portions of the environment  For instance a raft may be required to leave an area or a torch may be necessary to rescue a member of the research crew or to burn through dense spider webs that are blocking new locations.

Ancient idols are hidden throughout the game.  Once you recover them, Harry can use them to buy new abilities and items from native medicine men.  These abilities are similar to power ups and help Harry progress through the game.  You can buy a special attack move that takes down enemies or you can upgrade your slingshot.  Harry can also smash through walls, spin kick monkeys, sweep kick coconut tossing natives, sneak, roll through small openings, jump, double jump and super jump just to name a few of his many abilities.  All of these game dynamics help keep the run and jump challenges fresh because each location requires a specific ability in order to move forward..   

I found the keyboard control configuration optimal.  Harry can be manipulated by using standard shooter controls, w,s,a,d.  He can also pick up items and pull levers by pressing the arrow keys.  All the action abilities can be found on the num pad keys.  To perform a double jump you simply tap the number two twice.  An inventory can be pulled up quickly by punching the five key and one of the directional keys simultaneously.  Harry has a canteen which can replenish his health.  To put it in his hand you simply press five and the up key.  The camera can be moved in any direction.  The controls do take a bit of getting used to because there are so many combinations and many abilities to master, but once you’ve been playing for thirty minutes you should be good to go.

The graphics do a serviceable job with the environments.  The game has an overall cartoonish quality about it.  The character models appear dated or goofy or both.  Doesn’t really matter as it doesn’t ruin the experience.  The real fun and value in Pitfall is its over-the-top humor.  Whether he is trading quibs with Nicole, one of the expedition members or just standing around scratching his butt, Harry never fails to entertain. 

There are only four save slots.  I had to keep an eye on each one closely in order to remember what each one represented.  One major complaint I have is the lack of a quicksave feature.  With all the successive swings, rolls and death defying leaps a quicksave would’ve been sweet.  Instead we can only save when you enter a new area or travel back to the beginning of an older location.  I suppose this is forgivable but in this day and age I feel that a quicksave option should be a given.  For those of you who are of the opinion that it ruins a games pacing, to that I say, then just don’t use it. 

Review Scoring Details

Gameplay:  7.5
Many abilities and various different challenges keep gameplay fresh.  However, some of the puzzles toward the end of the game tend to be very difficult.

Graphics:  7.5
Good environments with enough variety to appear interesting.  Character models are goofy and bobble-headed.  Overall cartoonish feel that fits with the silly humor.

Sound: 7.5
A good voice cast with a decent amount of atmosphere to help us get lost in the moment. 

Difficulty: Hard
The later challenges get quite difficult.  Without a quicksave option I found myself repeating things over and over in order to get it right.  It does get a bit tiresome in places.

Concept: 7
There is nothing ground breaking but what Pitfall does, it does pretty well.

Overall: 8
I thought the humor alone was worth the price of admission.  Every thing that Harry does or says is over-exaggerated to the point of absurd silliness.  Harry’s just a big dope, like a bull in a china closet.  But he’s a lovable dope



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