Pitfall: The Mayan Adventure is a scrolling platform game that is both a reboot of the original Pitfall! by David Crane and the fourth game in the Pitfall series. It was ported to the Atari Jaguar by British company Imagitech Design and published by Activision in 1995, having been released for the Megadrive/Genesis and Super Nintendo the previous year.
You play as Pitfall Harry Junior, who must rescue his dad – Pitfall Harry – from an evil Mayan warrior spirit called Zakelua. You run, jump, crawl, climb, bounce, slide and fight your way through hostile jungle, using different weapons, swinging on ropes, dodging lethal quicksand traps, and avoiding damaging attacks from dangerous creatures. You’ll also be faced with a boss fight from time to time – usually at the end of each level.
Some weapons require ammunition (like the sling, and exploding stones), and Harry Junior’s default boomerang has limited uses too, which is unfortunate but it is still very useful. Particularly as it can take out multiple enemies at once with a single throw, and can also break through spider’s webs. Dealing with some enemies is tricky (maybe even frustrating), although the game is forgiving enough to keep you playing – if you want to.
There are treasures to be found on the way, and collecting fifty of these will earn you an extra continue. Touching squat Mayan statues acts as a restart point, from where you can pick up if you lose a life.
Pitfall: The Mayan Adventure has excellent animation (provided by Kroyer Films – the animation studio responsible for the Oscar-nominated film, FernGully: The Last Rainforest, among others); suitably atmospheric music, and finely-tuned gameplay, and is a well-produced title for the Jaguar. It’s a simple game, though, punctuated with some relatively exciting moments, like mine cart rides; trying to out-pace crumbling platforms, and a variety of vine-clambering sections. Overall, though, this Pitfall reboot is a little generic in terms of gameplay. It’s a cartoony Indiana Jones rip-off that is somewhat stand-out on the Jaguar, but not so much on other systems it was released on.
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