Over 20 years after making his groundbreaking debut on the Atari 2600, Activision's Pitfall Harry returns for more jungle-exploring action. The intrepid adventurer is brought to life for more than 50 perilous levels set in such exotic South American locales as rain forests, glaciers, mines, and ancient ruins. As in the original, players must utilize Harry's athletic prowess to swing from vines, run from rolling logs, hop over treacherous pits, avoid snapping crocodiles, and more, while trying to survive the hostile environment.
His objectives? To retrieve lost artifacts before they fall into the hands of his rival and to save those in danger. Pitfall Harry will eventually encounter situations that even he can't conquer with a well-timed jump or two, so players can pull items stored in his knapsack to assist him. Like the character's single foray on the original PlayStation, this game is designed to make players smile while exploring the mysterious lands before them. Although Pitfall 3D made use of Bruce Campbell's voice for its comic effect, Pitfall: The Lost Expedition attempts to use its visuals to elicit grins, with the protagonist drawn as a caricature, with a large head balanced atop a slender body.
Pitfall: The Lost Expedition is Activision's latest attempt to squeeze some juice out of one of its finest--and most wrung dry--franchises. It follows the standard mode of modern revivals of classic 1980s games: Pop the sucker into three dimensions and hope you can tempt nostalgic 30-somethings into buying it before they read a review telling them to save their money.
This dismal 3D "collect the goodies" platformer has graphics reminiscent of a cheaply made Saturday-morning cartoon, insufferable cut-scenes, and--worst of all--keyboard controls that make it so painful to play that you'll shelve it after your 10th accidental fall into a crocodile's jaws. The game opens with the opposite of a tutorial: With no explanation, you're dropped into the middle of a boss fight against a demon jaguar, meaning you'll be killed 20 times while you desperately try to learn the controls. Once you figure out how to stop running in circles (not easy, given the lousy camera system, the viewpoint-dependent movement keys, and the charging demon jaguar), you'll eventually survive long enough to initiate a flashback explaining how Harry got into this scrape.
And that's the rest of the game: playing through the flashback. There are pits to jump over, lakes to swim, vines to swing on--and some of it might be fun if it weren't for the fact that controlling Harry's movement is practically impossible. You constantly have to inch the view left and right to line up just the right angles, and then you usually miss the jumps anyway. Of course, the game may play better with a gamepad rather than a keyboard (I didn't try), but that would only elevate it from "utterly unplayable" to "merely bad." Add in a console-style save system that only lets you save progress at the start of a level, and you've got a guaranteed recipe for infuriation.
People who downloaded Pitfall: The Lost Expedition have also downloaded:
Pitfall: The Mayan Adventure, Pac-Man: Adventures in Time, Pitfall II: Lost Caverns, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Legend of Jack Sparrow, Planet of the Apes, Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Legend, Dragon's Lair 3D: Return to the Lair, Madagascar
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