Edge of Reality
Activision
Action/Adventure
1
02.18.04

Pitfall: The Lost Expedition


Oh, how I loved playing Pitfall on my Atari 2600. That was well over 10 years ago, and it's great to see a company like Activision stay around for this long. They were the creator's of the wonderful game of Pitfall, and it was one of the games that got me to enjoy and love videogames. There have been numerous amounts of Pitfall games released for NES, SNES, PSone, Gameboy, and PC, but I unfortunately missed out of all of those. Now comes Pitfall: The Lost Expedition, and before I start this review, I just want to let you know that there is a great bonus included on this disc: original Pitfall and Pitfall II!

Gameplay

The story starts off by your plane going down. The game plays like a 3D platformer, and it works well for little ol' Harry. I was a bit skeptical about how the gameplay would turn out for this title, and I have to say it's near perfect. I am also very happy to say that a lot of the original aspects that were in the original Pitfall are all intact. From what I can remember from well over a decade ago was swinging on vines and jumping over/on crocs. That's all still here, and the entire Pitfall theme is faithfully intact. The fact that I was playing a new Pitfall game, with the combination of all these aspects, made me remember how awesome Pitfall was.

As one would imagine, you can use the alligators by jumping on them to get to a certain spot. If you're fast enough, you can swim passed the crocs, but sometimes you need to use them. Harry can do a double jump, which is mainly used to grab vines. A good thing about Pitfall: TLE is that there is healing water. Fill up your canteen with water, and heal yourself anytime you need to (must be healing water that is in special fountains). You can carry items such as a canteen, slingshot, ice pick, and a torch. You can use them anytime from the very easy-to-access menu using the d-pad.

The bulk of the gameplay for the latest Pitfall, or any Pitfall's I would imagine has you jumping on things (like platforms), grapping ledges, swinging on vines, swimming, and rescuing people. Harry also has to watch out for quicksand. You can also perform punch and kick combos. Harry has a roll maneuver, like Sonic, to get through some tight spots. The controls were never confusing, and the camera is one of the best I've seen for a platformer. While you're on a vine, you have complete control of where you want to go (by using the L and R triggers). You have to swing it back and forth to get the best momentum going. Once you're on a vine you can also climb up and slide down it anytime.

As you collect "idols" (138 total) you can use them to buy certain things anytime at the "Shaman Shop." You learn new moves and combos as you advance deeper into the game, and you purchase new ones also. There's a leopard/jaguar that shows up every now and then, and he helps you (sort of). This talking cat (Quickclaw) is more or less like a sidekick, but not really. When you come up to large open areas, sometimes you'll hit a huge pack of sleeping monkeys. You have to sneak around them to get away, or just run for it. There's analog support for sneaking around, although the black button is probably best for that. There's idea that was first found in Splinter Cell that's in Pitfall. When you walk over a piece of fabric hanging from above, it moves with your body contact.

Graphics

The graphics are solid and they maintain well with the cartoon-y animated look. Harry and all of the other humans all have only four fingers, but hey this is Pitfall world. Bright, colorful graphics make up Pitfall's environment. I can't say it enough; the jungle-style graphics are super sharp. Waterfalls, mountains, and Harry's hair blowing in the wind make this game a delightful treat to play. The natural atmosphere includes leaves falling, butterflies soaring, water, wind, moss, etc. There's hot lava and ice as well. Edge of Reality has done numerous amounts of wonderful things for the graphics. There's also real time facial expressions, with eyes blinking and lips moving. They did all the proper lighting effects, for example shadows are present. They even coded embers coming off your torch; it's all here. I especially like the look of the big eyed, well-animated characters in this game. Even the monkeys that cling onto you look decent up close. Everything is totally 3D, no 2D images that appear to be 3D exist. In some of the later levels you'll be swimming underwater, and it looks superb. The graphics are more than solid, they are rock-solid.

Sound

Ever wonder what it might sound like to be in a jungle? I'm sure some of us have been in a jungle before, or maybe at the zoo, but Pitfall does a very good job in creating the jungle "feel" by all the sounds that you hear. Some of the sounds you'll hear are from the frogs, fish, crocs, and even the birds that chirp. There's also caves too, and you'll hear bats flying all over the place. The sound of fire is all programmed to sound real. The music is almost like Indiana Jones. The suspenseful, adventure-like music really suits the game well, but it can get very repetitive at times.

Replay Value

I might go back and play this game again, but probably not for while. The replay value is slightly raised due to the inclusion of the original Pitfall and Pitfall 2. To be honest, I really enjoyed the game, but I think once you complete it, you're done for a long time.

Bottom Line:

Above all, Pitfall can be a very challenging game. It's nice to see that Harry is back. With a beautiful detailed 3D world, this game takes you on an awesome adventure. This is the best platformer that I have played on Xbox. It kept my attention, and never got boring. For Pitfall fans, this is a definite must buy. For the gamers who are just too young to remember the first Atari version of Pitfall, without a doubt rent this. Don't forget about this one...rent it, buy it, or find a way to play it. It's a jungle out there!

Related Links:

Official Pitfall Website
Official BradyGames Strategy Guides Website

Quick note about the strategy guide: I highly suggest the Bradygames strategy guide for this game. I couldn't have done certain parts without the guide!

-Steve Melanson




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