Platforms: Atari 2600, Atari 5200, Atari 8-bit, ColecoVision, Commodore 64, Intellivision, MSX

Also Known As


Main Genre:
Visual Presentation:
Fixed / Flip Screen


Atari 5200 version of Pitfall!
Atari 5200 version of Pitfall!
Pitfall! is an action/platform game originally released by Activision in 1982 for the Atari 2600. It was subsequently ported to numerous other game consoles and home computers. In the game players control Pitfall Harry with the goal of collecting treasures in a dangerous jungle within a 20 minute time limit. Pitfall! is typically credited with starting the genre of side-scrolling platform games (even though Pitfall! itself didn't have scrolling screens, it featured many elements that would become staples of the genre) and was one of the best selling Atari 2600 titles with over 4 million copies sold. Several sequels were also later released, including Pitfall II: Lost Caverns.


Pitfall! takes place in a jungle consisting of 255 screens; There are 32 treasures scattered throughout the screens and players have 20 minutes to locate them all. Each screen consists of two parts, a jungle at the top with a tunnel beneath. The tunnel can be reached by either falling through holes in the ground or by climbing down a ladder. When players are in the tunnel they move three screens at a time instead of one; due to the large number of screens use of the tunnel can be important in order to reach all of the treasures before the time limit runs out. Since the treasures were always found on the jungle level, the tunnel level was only useful for avoiding dangers above or advancing through screens faster. Some of the tunnels were blocked by brick walls forcing players to return to the jungle level to get past. Players can run either to the left or the right to get from screen to screen; since Pitfall Harry always appeared on the left side of the screen when a life was lost it was usually recommended that players head to the left on their adventure.

Players begin Pitfall! with three lives; the game ends either when players run out of lives or the time limit runs out. There are numerous hazzards throughout the jungle which will cost the player a life and need to be avoided by either jumping over them, swinging on a vine over them, or using a tunnel to go under them. Hazzards include pits, quicksand, swamps, fires, rattlesnakes, scorpions, and crocodiles. The scorpions are only found underground in the tunnel and are always walking in the direction of the player; careful timing is typically needed to jump over them. The other hazzards are found above ground. The pits, quicksand, and swamps are too large to jump over. Most of the time there is a vine swinging above them that Pitfall Harry could catch in order to swing safely to the opposite side. In some screens the pits, quicksand, and swamps repeatedly disappear and reappear; in those cases players could run across the screen while the hazard was invisible, but needed to be careful the hazzard doesn't suddenly reappear beneath them. In some cases swamps would have three crocodiles in them that opened and closed their mouths. Players could jump on top of the crocodiles eyes safely as well as their mouths when closed in order to cross the swamp. The last hazzard encountered is rolling logs. They appear on many of the screens and roll across the screen from right to left. While touching a log doesn't cost the player a life like other hazzards, it will deduct points and also cause the player to trip which slows Pitfall Harry down.

There are several types of treasures that can be found in the jungle including diamond rings (5000 points), gold bars (4000 points), silver bars (3000 points), and bags of money (2000 points). Points can be lost if the player falls down a hole or is hit by one of the rolling logs. A perfect score in the game is 114,000 points which can be reached by collecting all 32 treasures in the time limit and without losing any points.

Pitfall Harry's Explorers Club

As was common with many Activision games from the era, players could earn a patch for high scores. With Pitfall!, if players earned at least 20,000 points and sent a photo of the screen showing the score to Activision a patch with the Explorer's Club emblem would be received.


Platform: Atari 5200
By: David Crane
Platform: ColecoVision
By: David Crane
Platform: Commodore 64
By: David Crane
Platform: Intellivision
Designed and Programmed by: David Crane


Instruction Manual
Instruction Manual
Commodore 64
Instruction Manual


Product catalogs, magazines, flyers, or other documentation Pitfall! has appeared in.
*Note: If you are unable to see any images in this section, you may have an ad blocker installed that is blocking the thumbnails and/or images.
Magazine Advertisements
October 1982 magazine ad
Activision December 1982 magazine ad
Product Catalogs
Activision Winter/Spring 1983 product catalog
Intellivision Pitfall! in the Activision Winter/Spring 1983 product catalog
Atari 5200 games in the Activision product catalog
Pitfall! in the Mediagenic product catalog

Related Games

Packaging/Label Styles

This game has releases with the following standardized packaging styles: