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Pitfall: The Mayan Adventure
Posted by Billy
Posted on 2 July, 2013 at 10:03PM ↑ 0 ↓ 0
Pitfall: The Mayan Adventure

Multiplatform releases were somewhat of a rarity back in the 16-bit days. Game consoles were just too different from each-other, so it wasn't an easy thing to do. Which brings me to another game from my childhood -- Pitfall the Mayan Adventure, which was on fucking everything. Sure you had the occasional game that came out on the Genesis and Super Nintendo ala Bubsy, but this game was on almost any machine you can name back on the day: SNES, Genesis, Sega CD, 32X, Atari Jaguar, PC, and even got a port later on for the Gameboy Advance. For the sake of this review I'll be focusing on the Genesis/Sega CD version (they're very similar minus a few differences, more on that later).

The story of the game is pretty basic -- it’s a save the princess quest, but instead of a princess its your dad. You play as Pitfall Harry Jr., son of the protagonist of the first couple games Pitfall Harry. You and your dad are on an expedition in central America scoping out some Mayan ruins when an ancient Mayan warrior captures your dad offscreen. You then go on a quest to save him, of course. The game presents this not just in the manual (as typical of the time), but gives you a small intro cutscene as well.

The graphics in this game are actually pretty impressive for the time. The backgrounds in this game are immensely detailed, for a Genesis game. Everything in the background looks so... real! The jungles, the ruins, the caves, all of it impresses me. The animation on Harry himself is done very well. The back of the box claims they were done by a real animation studio (Kroyer Films), and I believe it. His animations are very fluid, much like Earthworm Jim’s, and the enemies are shown the same kind of attention, though on a smaller scale. As a result of this the characters do look “cartoony”, and clash stylistically to the background they’re in front of. However, because of this they don’t blend with the background. In some versions (e.g. 32x, Jaguar) the graphics are smoothed over, which makes it look kinda crap in comparison. The level tropes go between jungles, ruins, caves... and that's about it. The level tropes repeat quite a bit, though I hardly hold it against it.

This game plays like a typical platforming game of the time. You can jump, and duck. You have a few weapons: A small whip, throwing rocks, a boomerang, and an exploding stone. All of them except the whip use ammo that must be picked up. The whip is a standard close range attack, the rock is a standard projectile, the boomerang travels in a circular motion back towards you (like a boomerang, naturally -- this also allows you to regain your lost boomerang), and the exploding stone damages all enemies on screen. You’ll probably end up using the rocks the most, as the whip is too close range to be effective, and everything else is fairly limited. Notably I find it pretty hard to hit things with the boomerang, but maybe that’s just me. The game makes fair use of the Genesis 3 button controller, with one exception. One button jumps, the other uses the whip, and the other uses the currently selected weapon. These controls are customizable on the main menu, too. Except, you have to switch weapons by tapping the start button, which is a little weird and means you have to hold start to pause. This is eased with the 6-button controller where X, Y, Z buttons quick use each different weapon, but the start tapping to switch remains even with one plugged in. You have a life bar (in the form of an alligator closing in on pitfall harry), and to replenish your life you collect hearts... semi-realitstic beating human hearts, which is kinda creepy. Mid level savepoints appear as little Mayan satues that also point you where you need to go, which can be quite handy.

Pitfall Genesis


Pitfall 32X


Pitfall SNES



The music is pretty well done, and was (according to the box) created by Soundelux Media Labs. The tracks always fit the setting. Jungles sound wild and dangerous, ancient ruins stoic and old, it all fits very well. This is the main place the Gensis and Sega CD versions differ. As with a lot of Sega CD games, its just the Genesis version with an enhanced CD audio soundtrack and load times (though the load times in this game aren’t that bad, but can be a little jarring if you’re used to the Genesis version). The music tracks are very obviously the compositions, just in CD quality, so it just comes down to a matter of preference.

If you like platformers like Earthworm Jim, you're sure to love Pitfall: the Mayan Adventure.

Lazlo Falconi
3 July, 2013 at 9:01PM ↑ 0 ↓ 0

Sounds pretty good! I've actually never played any Pitfall game, and I didn't really imagine any of the being all that good, since they're (I thought) just ploys to extract more money from an already dead franchise that nobody cares about anymore. It's also interesting to see that there was a different version for the 32X.I didn't know that any publishers actually did this, but that's pretty cool.

Judging from the screenshots you've posted alone, I'd say I'm pretty disappointed with the Genesis graphics, though. This is probably because they wanted the 32X version to look cooler or whatever, but I definitely think the Genesis could have done better than what was there.

But that's just, like, my opinion, man.

3 July, 2013 at 9:09PM ↑ 0 ↓ 0

I really like the look of the Genesis one for some reason. It seems more... Gritty? Not sure. Maybe it's just nostalgia bias.

7 July, 2013 at 7:21PM ↑ 0 ↓ 0

I used to play the PC version of this and Earthworm Jim all the time when I was younger. I really struggled on the later sections of both games. Having played the original Pitfall on a family friend's Atari I found the ending of They Mayan Adventure to be fantastic.

7 July, 2013 at 8:03PM ↑ 0 ↓ 0

I haven't seen it legitimately (I deserve to be crucified I know), but I found it hilarious.

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