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Pitfall: The Mayan Adventure Package Art
Pipe Dream

Pitfall: The Mayan Adventure

“Many years ago there was a daring adventurer who traveled the world in search of ancient legends and lost treasures. His journeys took him across the seven seas and to the ends of the earth.

After many successful quests Harry settled down to raise his son, Harry Junior. Having inherited his father’s love of the unknown, Harry Jr. grew up to become an 18-year-old with a deep sense of adventure and a bit of an attitude.

Together the daring duo set off for the jungles of Central America in search of the lost treasures of the Mayans... but something went terribly wrong”

This paraphrased description taken from the instruction manual is reason enough, in my opinion, to give this game a shot. I mean, c’mon... searching out ancient legends and lost treasures throughout vast jungles and temples! Sounds like fun to me, and with the new GBA hardware we are sure to be in for a treat right? Let’s find out...


The GBA continues to amaze me in the visual department and Pitfall is not an exception to this despite what numerous reviewers have claimed. The main problem with this game is that the graphics are so dark in hue that it makes it very difficult to see with the lack of a backlight in the GBA and thus hides the true beauty of this and many other games.

The animations of Harry Jr. are absolutely stunning, incredibly fluid and very realistic. His arms flail when he jumps, his legs buckle to brace the impact of a fall, his body sways back and forth while climbing up vines, he looks around as if he hears an animal approaching, he collapses after running smack into a wall and many, many more animations which are all done to perfection.

The enemies and environment animate just as nicely although not as complex as Harry Jr. Snakes, monkeys, hogs, and other beasts all act and behave the way you’d expect and with the corresponding fluid and detailed animations. On the environment side you can expect to find very detailed flowing water, snapping branches, leaves falling, spikes contracting and extracting, etc.

Animation nitpicking aside, everything in this game looks absolutely gorgeous but with a slightly dark hue which seems even darker without a decent light source. We’ve got every environment setting that you could possibly hope for here... a jungle, a gigantic waterfall, a mine, a lost city and even an ancient temple. No room to go wrong with environments like that...


Aside from the lack of a backlight in the GBA the biggest complaint about the system is the audio quality. The upgrade in visual technology from the GBC to the GBA was very significant but the audio department lagged behind and it shows in Pitfall.

One thing you will notice right off the bad when you start to play this game is that there is no music whatsoever. There is music on the title screen, albeit not very great music, but in-game there is absolutely none at all.

Where the game lacks in music though it makes up with sound effects in spades! This game is littered with dozens of highly authentic sound effects but the only draw back is that they seem rather “sampled”. Normally this isn’t too much of a concern in a game but with the lack of any kind of music available to help blend them they really stick out.


My biggest complaint about the gameplay is the looseness of the controls... but it’s not even that bad that it makes it difficult to play the game... it just take a little while to get used to it.

You’ll be utilizing the GBA to its fullest extent when playing this game... not one button goes unused! Here’s a quick break down of the controls:

Control Pad L/R: Movement in the respected direction; pushing walls, blocks; aiming your weapon; crawling

Control Pad U/D: Climbing; Crouching; looking; aiming your weapon

Control Pad D + B Button: Crawl

L Button: Use Boomerang

R Button: Use Sling shot

A Button: Use Your Whip

B Button: Jump

Of course, if you are unhappy with this set-up you can change the button configuration to whatever you want via the options screen accessible from the title screen.

As you can see from the control layout above, you have 3 different weapons/tools available to you during your adventure; Boomerang, Slingshot, Whip. To use the Boomerang & Sling Shot you need to have “ammo” which you can easily find by exploring your surroundings but the whip is unlimited.

The reason I described these items as both weapons and tools is because sometimes you will need to use them as both. For example, if there is a switch that you just can’t reach try and use your sling shot and it will probably work. The whip on the other hand is used primarily as your main weapon because of the unlimited use but it is also used extensively in some levels as a tool. A couple used of the tool aspect of the whip are: sliding down a vine & traveling across a pit by whipping your way along a vine to reach the opposite side.

The length of the game is one downside to Pitfall depending on how you look at it. For me, I was just getting into the game and found myself nearing the end already. This could be a good thing though as it is perfect for a portable situation where you want to kill a couple of hours.

A sore point I should point out though is that there is some slow down present in Pitfall. I only encountered it in on the second stage when I got a group of giant bugs flapping their wings extremely fast. I think that is completely understandable though but it could have been avoided.

Finally, all of your typical platformer status stuff is present in Pitfall; health, treasure collection, lives, etc. If you can collect 50 pieces of treasure you will earn a continue... everything else is pretty straightforward stuff.


See above.


When I first started to play this game I was not very impressed at all. I found it very difficult to see or do anything in this game and found the controls to be very awkward and clumsy. However, after giving this game a few more hours and getting a very comfortable spot under a decent light source I quickly discovered that this game is actually very good given the proper preparations are made before you begin playing.

In conclusion, Do yourself a favour and invest in a decent light attachment and rechargeable batteries so that you can enjoy this game among other games on the go. Or you can spend your time sweating to death sitting directly under a lamp so that you can see the blasted game which totally defies the point of a portable system.

final score Platform/10

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