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by Majesco

pitfall28-01.jpg (8082 bytes)It would be really easy to spend the majority of this review discussing the merits and wonders of the original Pitfall. The hours I spent swinging over crocodiles, avoiding quicksand, and jumping over scorpions were some of the most rewarding gaming hours I’ve ever spent. Pitfall was revolutionary in its approach to platform gaming on the console; it changed gamers’ expectations. Without a doubt, Pitfall was Activision’s crown jewel. About seven or eight years ago, Activision revisited Pitfall on the SNES, with Pitfall: The Mayan Adventure. It only made sense for them to capitalize on great name brand recognition. Although not revolutionary, it was good fun all around. Majesco has decided to port the SNES game to the Game Boy Advance. They’ve done a great job recreating the console experience without acknowledging some inherent differences in console and handheld gameplay.

pitfall20-01.jpg (6256 bytes)The controls for the Pitfall: the Mayan Adventure are comfortable and responsive enough to let you focus on the gameplay. The designers make pretty good use of the button layout on the GBA. To fire your grenades, however, you need to combine one of the shoulder buttons with the select button. It takes a little getting used to. It would have been easier to use both shoulder buttons at the same time. Also, this is a very pretty game to look at. I enjoyed the character animations and the level design. There are some wonderful small details like falling leaves in the jungle that really add to the overall experience. The bright colors are easy to make out on the small screen and they really work to make this a fun gaming experience.

pitfall25-01.jpg (6313 bytes)For as much fun as the original was, it did tend to get a little repetitive. Mayan Adventure spices things up with a wide variety in its level design. My favorite addition to the Pitfall mythos are the bungee vines, but the ziplines and web trampolines are also nice touches. I really enjoyed playing this game. It is a nice homage to the spirit of the original version without being constrained by the doggedly linear design.

pitfall18-01.jpg (6442 bytes)The only place where this game drops the ball is with the lack of a level save or password access. I am a firm believer in the idea that Game Boy Games are for gaming on the go. You need to be able to play for a few minutes and then turn it off. People don’t plan their day around their Game Boys in the same way they plan their day around their PS2s. I resent the fact that this game won’t let you progress a little here and a little there. With Pitfall, it’s all or nothing. There is no password to access higher levels and no battery save to retain your progress. If you want to play through the game, you need to do it from start to finish in one sitting. I don’t know about you, but that’s more time than I’m willing to invest in my Game Boy.

pitfall53-01.jpg (6503 bytes)I have to admit that I’m a little unclear as to why Majesco chose to publish Earthworm Jim and Pitfall at the same time. The games are so similar in terms of design and play that it seems like they would cannibalize one another’s sales. So, my one other caution about this game is that if you’ve already invested in Earthworm Jim, you may want to wait until Sonic makes his debut on the GBA, because Pitfall is more of the same.

pitfall13-01.jpg (6541 bytes)Although it’s quite entertaining, there’s nothing to recommend this game if you’ve already played through it in another incarnation. But if you’ve haven’t had the chance, and have an afternoon to kill you could find worse games to lavish your attentions on.

Jason Frank   (06/28/2001)

Snapshot

Ups: Great graphics; nice, bright colors; cool gameplay; nice animation.

Downs: Control takes a little practice; no save feature?!?

System Reqs:
Game Boy Advance

 


1995-2001
GamesFirst! Magazine