“Pitfall!” was quite the hit when Activision released it in 1982. (I’m a little unclear on what I’m reading about the relationship between Activision and Atari … it looks like the former was a group of defected employees who were then sued by latter, but who then inadvertently pioneered the third-party-developer arrangement for video games.)
“Pitfall!” hit the shelves the same year that the priceless “Raiders of the Lost Ark” galloped through theaters, which I’ll bet helped with the popularity of the jungle adventure game. But the game became a bestseller because of its own merits. Wikipedia informs me that its took a lot of innovation by its creator, David Crane, to get his newer, more advanced graphics stored and operable on a 4-kilobyte game.
And I could kinda see that, as a kid. “Pitfall!” was far sleeker and seemingly more complex than other Atari games my family had, like “Combat,” “Missile Command,” “Frogger” and “Donkey Kong.” And it was a lot of fun. See for yourself; you can play the original game for free right here at the Virtual Atari website. (Seriously, the people who set up that site did something really cool for the rest of us.)
When I sat down to write this, I actually got my memories of “Pitfall!” confused with a later, more advanced side-scrolling PC game called “Impossible Mission.” I played that in high school, and I loved it even more than “Pitfall!” The two games look pretty similar; I wonder if anyone else gets them confused.
By the way, does that kid in the pith helmet in the ad below look familiar to you? That’s because he’s none other than Jack Black, age 13.