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Pitfall: The Mayan Adventure
from AEO Magazine, Volume 4, Issue 9
||| Jaguar Review: Pitfall: The Mayan Adventure ||| By: Mark "Stingray" Santora / | \ GEnie: AEO.4 AOL: MrSantora ----------------------------------------------------------------- Since the Jaguar's release, a little over two years ago, the most popular games for the system have been the updates of "classic" games. I am of course referring to Tempest 2000 and the upcoming Breakout 2000 and Defender 2000. These games seem to generate considerable more interest than Super Duper Mortal Street Combat Fighter XXIIV games - and with good reason. The original versions of these games are what spawned todays programmers. They look to the classics with reverence - even GameBoy has some "classics" out. The term "classic" games refers to those games in the early to mid 1980's when playability was more important than following in the latest fad. Most of the games did not have endings, and given your skill could be played for hours on end while the difficulty just continued to get harder. =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= //// Pitfall Classic =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= If you are a first generation gameplayer, than you must have heard of the original Pitfall! It was written by David Crane for the Atari 2600. When it came out, it was the game to beat, and on the Atari 2600, I would be hard pressed to say that no other game captured my attention as much as it did. The original Pitfall was simple - take the role of Pitfall Harry (the original Atari Explorer) and run around on two platforms, grabbing as many jewels and goodies as you can in under twenty minutes, while trying not to fall in the pits or the lakes with alligators, get stung by scorpions, or run over by logs. You could run, jump, swing from a vine, and climb ladders. I'm sure I'm forgetting a few objects, but you get the idea. =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= //// Pitfall: The Next Generation =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= Now Activision has pulled out all the stops to update their classic, and I gotta tell you, they've done one hell of a job. The plot is simple, after years of gallivanting around the world, Pitfall Harry decided to settle down and have some kids. Well, he had a son, Harry, Jr., who's a lot like his dad - fearless and full of adventure. Seeing this in his son, this awoke the feelings in Harry Sr, that he hadn't felt since he settled down. So, he decided to set out on an expedition with his son to the Mayan Pyramids in Central America. Once there, Harry Sr. was captured by the evil Warrior Spirit Zakelua. Armed with his father's notes, a slingshot, and some attitude, Harry Jr. is going after the biggest treasure of all time, his father. =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= //// Playing the Game =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= As is standard with all platformers, as Harry Jr. you can run left and right, jump up, crouch, and even crawl. That constitutes the main moves of Harry Jr. However, like his father, Harry Jr can swing from vines, and even the unconscious carcasses of snakes (more on that subject later). Unlike his father, Harry Jr. is armed with weapons. He has a slingshot that slings rocks. (which are plentiful throughout the game.) He can also use the slingshot as a whip so he does not have to waste the rocks, this is a good weapon for mice and spiders - basically those things that are small and close to the ground. Using your slingshot, you can charge your throws so that they do more damage. Throughout the levels you might be fortunate enough to find boomerangs and exploding stones. The boomerangs whip around until they've hit and killed everything on the screen. The exploding stones are very useful when things get a little crazy in front of you. One of these puppies will clear a nice path for you. You can also ride ziplines, jump on items (like spider webs or tongues of statues) to bounce you into the air, bungee jumps, riding runaway mine cars, climbing ropes, and swinging on vine. As you can tell, the gameplay is varied and never gets boring. The screen is laid out rather well with information easily accessible without being obtrusive. In the upper left hand corner of the screen in the score. In the upper right hand of the screen is the number of lives you have left and and image of Harry Jr being chased by a crocodile. As you loose health, the croc gets closer. You don't want to let him get too close or else you lose a life. In the lower right hand corner is is a numeric representation of the amount of the treasure you have collected so far. Every 50 pieces you collect, you get another continue. And in the lower left hand corner is the weapon that you are using and the number of them you have to use (you can not run out of the whip and you select the weapon by pressing the option button). There are a lot of bad guys, and they are very different. First, there are your basic skeletons. These baddies bounce around the ground as heads and then when you get close, rise up and start swiping away at you with their very large swords. Once you hit them, they go down, but their heads continue to bounce around and eventually reform the entire body! So, after you knock them down, it's a good idea to take another swing against the bouncing heads. Secondly are your snakes, mice and spiders. These are just about everywhere on most levels. They are very quick and hug the ground. Using your slingshot against them is usually a futile move. Use the sling/whip. Ditto for the blood-sucking bats and the butterflies. (!) Next, you get to play with the Spirits of Chaac. These guys will really kick your butt if you don't watch yourself. They are fast and fire at you without mercy. You also run into gargoyles that come to life and throw axes at you, they're not too fun either. The manual mentions vapor ghosts - but I haven't seen them yet. There are =many= other baddies around: monkeys, swinging Great Balls o' Fire, spikes, temple priests, etc. You won't get bored. At the end of most levels you run into bosses. These little beasties (tm. Yak) will jump all over you and rip your health away. They take multiple hits, but there is a percentage meter above the screen to tell you how good or bad you are doing. Sometimes, the end-of-level boss isn't living, and you have a split second to figure out how to deal with it.... Every time that you complete a level the game asks you if you would like to save it. Unfortunately there is only one game save, so only one player can play at a time. Of course the control pad is completely configurable, so you can adjust the settings to your liking. =-=-=-=-=-=-= //// Graphics =-=-=-=-=-=-= This conversion of Pitfall was handled by the lovely people over at Imagitec in the UK. They were responsible for last year's Bubsy and Zool 2 conversions. I know some people didn't like those games because they weren't "64bit looking," whatever that means. But even those nay sayers will be impressed by the graphics in Pitfall. They are very sharp and colorful. The animation is also excellent falling short only of Rayman status - and for a platformer, that's pretty darn good. Harry Jr. is animated slightly better than an afternoon cartoon. Everytime he moves, there is a new expression, his jacket flares up when he jumps or swings, and he goes into a levitating trance if you leave him unguided for too long. The enemies are not overlooked here, either. They are animated excellently, almost as well as Harry is. Not that it should be that distracting, after all you have to dispatch them very quickly. Also the lack of colors, seeing how the Jaguar has so many, they could have easily been put to good use here by fixing it up. Aside from that, the graphics rock. =-=-=-=-=-= //// Sound =-=-=-=-=-= The sound in Pitfall is also very good. There is different music for each of the levels I have played so far and each movement has a different effect. Even when Harry Jr. runs, you here his feet crunch down on dried grass, cement, etc. The music is equally good, never becoming obtrusive and causing you to get distracted from the game. It is also of high quality, no distortion that I can hear. The sound is used very well throughout this game and you can tell that the programmers payed just as much attention to it as they did to graphics. =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= //// Playability =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= It's all here. You run, jump, shoot, crawl, swing, slide, ride, and even find treasure. What else could you ask for in a great platformer? The control is dead on and this game is just fun! On top of that, once you reach the fourth level, if you find your may to a door which is guarded by a really simple looking scorpion (it's white and real boxy - like it was done in the "classic" days of gaming) when you go through it, you are close to being transported to the original world of Pitfall. Yes the original is here - all 4K of it, or was it 8K? Anyway, you get the three lives like the original and get to play until you lose them. After that, you are transported back to Pitfall:The Mayan Adventure and continue to play Jr. exactly where you left off with no loss of time or lives. =-=-=-=-=-=-=-= //// Conclusion =-=-=-=-=-=-=-= Pitfall is beautiful to listen to, to look at, and to play. Everything is there to keep you hooked for a while. It actually plays a little easier than Rayman, so if that was a little hard or too frustrating for you, than this is definitely the place to go. And if Rayman was fun for you, than you will enjoy this as well. I never thought we'd end up in a time where so many good games were coming out for the Jag. I know I can't afford to get them all. But if you like platformers, than I highly suggest this one. It really shines and Imagitec have done a great job with it. =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= //// Final Ratings =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= Title: Pitfall:The Mayan Adventure JagNet: No Developer: Imagitec Players: 1 Published by: Atari Cart Size: 4 Megabyte Retail: $59.95 Availability: Now A Summary of Ratings: "*" is a whole "+" is a half 5 stars Maximum Graphics - ****+ Really sharp. Nicely animated. Audio - **** Really good. Very clear and solid. Control - **** It's on. You move, Harry Jr. moves. Gameplay - ***** It's a good game and it'll take time to finish it - but you'll enjoy it. Overall - **** Above and Beyond a solid effort. Worth your time and money. Pts Stars AEO Ratings """ """"" """"""""""" 10 ***** GAMING NIRVANA!!! - You have left reality behind... for good. 9 ****+ Unbelieveable GAME!! - Your family notices you're often absent. 8 **** Fantastic Game!! - You can't get enough playtime in on this. 7 ***+ Great Game! - Something to show off to friends or 3DOers. 6 *** Good game - You find yourself playing this from time to time. 5 **+ Ho-hum - If there's nothing else to do, you play this. 4 ** Waste of time - Better to play this than play in traffic. 3 *+ Sucks - Playing in traffic sounds like more fun. 2 * Sucks Badly - You'd rather face an IRS audit than play this. 1 + Forget it - ... but you can't; it's so badly done, it haunts you. 0 - Burn it - Disallow programmer from ever writing games again.
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