Monday, October 8, 2012

Review--Pitfall (iOS)

Ah, Pitfall. One of my all-time favorite games, Pitfall is one of the reasons I fell in love with gaming so many years ago. When I got it for the Atari 2600 back in 1982, I became obsessed. At the time, Pitfall was more complex, had better controls, and looked a heck of a lot better than pretty much everything else out for the 2600 at the time. Not to mention, Indiana Jones hype running wild due to the movie a year earlier, and playing as Pitfall Harry was as close to being Indiana Jones as I was going to get.

Activision had a brilliant marketing campaign to go along with the game, and they offered one of the famous Activision patches for anyone who scored 20,000 points and mailed in a picture of their TV screen. I never got there, but man did I spend hours and hours trying.

There have been Pitfall sequels and ports over the years--some good and some bad. The latest take on the classic game is a running game for iOS devices, and it's not half bad.

Other than the opening sequence that features the classic Activision logo and a nod to the original 2600 classic, this Pitfall plays quite differently than it's predecessor. The game is an "endless runner" like Temple Run, where Pitfall Harry will run through the environment, and players tilt and swipe to make him move, jump, duck and use his whip. The controls work really well, and the environment is full of classic Pitfall obstacles like snakes, crocodiles, pits and more. There are some twists thrown into the classic formula as well, with some motorcycle and mine cart sequences that borrow more from Indiana Jones than anything from the classic game.

The game features a leaderboard system, where you can compare scores with friends and the rest of the world. There are also microtransactions, through which you can buy ability to earn in-game money faster, or start from checkpoints in the game. That's kind of my gripe with the game, as it costs $.99 to begin with, and is designed to get you to spend right out of the gate. You can earn enough in-game currency to use the checkpoints, but it means repeating sections over and over again, which can get quite tedious.

So, while Pitfall on iOS is a fun evolution of the original game, it also represents the worst of the microtransaction design model. If you've got the willpower to refrain from spending after the initial $.99 investment, there is some fun to be had. But much like an 80s arcade machine, the goal is to get you to spend in a lot of little increments.

2.5 out of 5 Traps

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