[ Retro Scan ] Pitfall in LIFE

October 10th, 2016 by Benj Edwards

Activision Pitfall! for Atari 2600 LIFE Magazine scan - 1982Watch out for that jungle crude oil pit

As a kid, we had an Atari 2600, and before the NES era, Pitfall! was very popular in our household. Unlike most Atari VCS games, it felt like a real adventure, and it was thrilling to directly control a tiny jumping human on the screen while avoiding crazy jungle hazards like alligators and, well, huge pits that led to nowhere.

By the way, this is the largest single-page Retro Scan I’ve ever scanned — it comes from a large format LIFE magazine ad. I found the magazine in my grandparents’ washhouse in Texas back in the 1990s and saved it because of this ad.

If you’re curious, here is the full scan jumbo size at 600 dpi (it’s a 5919 x 7761 pixel 38 MB JPEG, so watch out).

[ From LIFE magazine, November 1982, p.113 ]

Discussion Topic: Which is better: Pitfall! or Pitfall II: Lost Caverns?



11 Responses to “[ Retro Scan ] Pitfall in LIFE”

  1. Geoff V. Says:

    Thanks for the beautiful scan!

    Pitfall! will have a special place in everyone’s heart if they were a child in the 70’s and 80’s.

    Side note: have you read Ready Player One yet? Would love to hear your review of the over-the-top nostalgia.

  2. Benj Edwards Says:

    Thanks, Geoff. I think you’re the last VC&G reader left. Was beginning to think no one would notice this.

    I have not read Ready Player One, but I probably will some day. The idea doesn’t really appeal to me somehow. I’m weird. Since I’ve been writing what I hope to be definitive works of tech history for a decade, I tend to stay away from popular accounts of nostalgia or history (even if crazy or sci-fi) so I stay “clean” and don’t confuse my brain with possibly inaccurate or fictional accounts of history.

    I’ve found that the more I read about something, the more I unconsciously assume it to just be that way without having to dig in and find out myself. In this industry that is so new that the history is still being explored and written, those assumptions are often wrong or incomplete (example: popular assumptions say things like “Pong was the first video game” or “The Apple II was the first PC”). So I try to force myself to have to dig in as much as I can so I do the history justice.

    That being said, I’ll probably read Ready Player One some day. Or watch the movie adaptation, whichever comes first.

  3. cozmo Says:

    I loved both, but would have to say the depth that Pitfall II has makes it more interesting (from the large levels to excellent music). I think I earned patches from both games…I just wish I could find that old jacket where I had sown on all my Activision patches (probably 12 or more). I quit wearing it when someone at school made fun of it :(, but I’d proudly wear it again today.

  4. Don H. Says:

    Benj, I check this website out every day, hoping for a new story. It makes me sad that your site isn’t getting the attention it deserves by the internet community. It is truly a nugget in the gold pan, just hard to find among the sand and silt.

    If it does go away, at least we still have the articles you write for other sites and magazines. They are never boring and are almost always topics that I’m keen on learning more about.

    So thank you for doing what you do. Very much appreciated, my good man!

  5. Chester Says:

    Thanks Ben, now *that* is the resolution your beautifully preserved pieces deserve! 🙂

    It is curious to think that Activision did (rightfully and unusually for the time) credit David Crane, but we’ll likely never know who drew this awesome illustration.

  6. Chester Says:

    Apologies for a missing “j” and for maybe triggering a side mission in your game history investigation… on a second thought, apologies just for the typo 😀

  7. TNLongFellow Says:

    Pit Fall the original is the best. The 2nd one just didn’t have the appeal to me that the first one did.
    I did play Mayan Adventure but never really felt compelled to play to the end. Perhaps one day I will do so. However until then the original will always hold a great place in history for me. Very few games since have made me feel kinda sad like Pit Fall did when I got chomped by a gator or stung by a scorpion!

  8. TheSaintOfPain Says:

    Though I don’t comment on every single article, and I might skip a day or two here or there, I check this site at least 4 or 5 times a week for new stuff, and have for nearly 10 years now, when I discovered this site by a random Google search.

    On topic, though, I personally go to the first Pitfall, mainly because it’s the one I’ve spent the most time playing, and is the one of the two I’ve actually had interest in completing. The second one is a decent game, but I just don’t have the interest or drive to see it all the way through like I have the first one.

  9. Zoyous Says:

    Both games are incredible. I think I would give the nod to the first Pitfall! It was more of a seismic event in the gaming landscape at the time it was released than its sequel was. I also think it’s all the more impressive that David Crane managed to fit it into a standard 4k cartridge (the sequel featured additional memory). As a kid, I just kind of messed around in Pitfall! and it wasn’t until many years later that I learned that the underground pathways will advance you three screens at a time… still, even without understanding the strategy of the game, it was very satisfying just to take on the various obstacles. The game has impressive depth and is a showcase for what the 2600 could do.

    One thing I wonder about Pitfall II – is this the first game that featured checkpoints that would respawn you depending on how far you had progressed?

  10. Benj Edwards Says:

    Thanks for all the support, guys. It means a lot!

    I’m glad to see people still check this place for new posts. I’ll try to keep doing Retro Scans at least for a while.

  11. Ant Says:

    Pitfall 1 rocked on Atari 2600. Pitfall 2 was OK on my Apple 2.

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