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Pitfall II: Lost Caverns is a platform video game originally released for the Atari 2600 by Activision in 1984,[1] the sequel to Pitfall! (1982). Both games were designed and programmed by David Crane and star jungle explorer Pitfall Harry. Pitfall II's major additions are a much larger world with vertical scrolling, rivers to swim in, and balloons that can be grabbed to float between locations.

Pitfall II: Lost Caverns
Atari 2600 cover art
Sega (arcade)
Designer(s)David Crane[1]
Programmer(s)Atari 2600
David Crane
Atari 8-bit
Mike Lorenzen[1]
Platform(s)Atari 2600 (original)
Apple II, Arcade, Atari 5200, Atari 8-bit, ColecoVision, Commodore 64, MSX, IBM PC, SG-1000, TRS-80 CoCo, ZX Spectrum

Released after the North American video game crash of 1983 when interest in the 2600 was waning, Pitfall II was one of the last major releases for the console and one of the most technically impressive. The cartridge contains a custom "Display Processor Chip" designed by David Crane to allow improved visuals and four channel music instead of the two the system is normally capable of.[2]

Pitfall II was ported to the Atari 5200, ColecoVision, Tandy Color Computer, Apple II, Atari 8-bit family, MSX, Commodore 64, and IBM PC compatibles (as a self-booting disk). The game's plot was loosely remade into Super Pitfall for the Famicom/NES. In 1985, Sega released an arcade version of Pitfall II with a different visual style.[3] It was ported to the SG-1000 console in Japan.



Atari 2600 gameplay

Pitfall! involved the player avoiding danger in the forms of crocodiles, scorpions, cobras, and quicksand. Lost Caverns expands the scope of the environment dramatically, as the player now descends deep underground. In addition to the familiar screen-flipping when Harry travels right or left, this game adds the element of vertical scrolling, as when Harry falls from a cliff or flies around after grabbing onto a balloon. Unlike the first game, Pitfall Harry has unlimited time and lives, making it impossible to "lose" the game; when Harry touches a dangerous creature, he simply loses points as he moves back to the last continue point (marked with a red cross) he touched along his journey.[4]

Unlike the original Pitfall!, however, which has a ground level and the underground, Pitfall II has 27 horizontal levels that are predominantly the same height, each stacked atop of the other. While these levels span the full eight screens in length, they are not openly accessible all the way across, as some portions are blocked by cave walls that force Harry to travel through other areas in order to progress. Quicksand and tar pits are replaced by rivers and chasms. Balloons let Harry ascend to new areas.[4]

Two new unplayable characters debut in Lost Caverns: Quickclaw, Harry's cowardly pet mountain lion, and Rhonda, his adventure-seeking niece. Both of these characters also appear with Harry in the Saturday Supercade children's cartoon based on the Pitfall games (in fact, Rhonda and Quickclaw were created for Saturday Supercade a full year before this game was released). Collecting Rhonda, Quickclaw, and a diamond ring is necessary to win the game. In versions without a second cave, upon collection of all three, the game ends on the spot. The maximum possible score is 199,000 (which differs in the Atari 8-bit and 5200 versions, see Adventurer's Edition below).[citation needed]

Another creature, the cave rat, is shown in the next screen to the right of where Quickclaw is shown at the beginning of the game (on the platform below Harry's starting point). However, Harry will not be able to reach Quickclaw by facing the rat head-on (via third screen hole into the river and advancing left). If he attempts to, the rat will push him back into the river. In addition to the previous game is the addition of a soundtrack.

The musical cues act as subtle rewards and punishments for performance. The main "heroic" theme plays for a short while before reaching a loop of acoustic music. When Harry collects a treasure, the main theme begins again. If Harry dies, a slower, minor key version of the theme plays, and then progresses back into the atmospheric theme. Finally, if Harry ascends using the Balloon, Sobre las Olas ("Over the Waves") is played.

Adventurer's EditionEdit

The Atari 5200 and Atari 8-bit versions, called the Adventurer's Edition on their title screens, contain additional content. Programmer Mike Lorenzen reused David Crane's code from the 2600 version and added an entirely new level to the game, which would be playable after the initial game was finished.[5] Marketing would not allow the two versions to be different, and demanded that the additional game be stripped from the Atari version. Instead it was left in as an easter egg.[citation needed]


Pitfall II: Lost Caverns was named No. 1 in the "best 25 Atari 2600 games of all time" in issue 46 of Retro Gamer magazine.[6]


  1. ^ a b c Hague, James. "The Giant List of Classic Game Programmers".
  2. ^ "Description of the Pitfall II cartridge". Retrieved 2013-02-11.
  3. ^ "Arcade Action". Computer & Video Games (46): 108. August 1985. ISSN 0261-3697.
  4. ^ a b c Pitfall II: Lost Caverns Atari 2600 manual. Activision. 1984.
  5. ^ "Reminiscing with David Crane". Archived from the original on 2007-12-24. Retrieved 2007-11-07.
  6. ^ "RetroGamer magazine archive". Archived from the original on 2010-02-11. Retrieved 2010-07-13.

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