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Developer Activision Options
Distributer Activision 1 Player
Game Type 3D Platform Memory Card
Review Date March 1998 Password Save
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Setting the Scene
Ah Pitfall.... just the mere mention of that classic Atari 2600 title brings back fond memories. Jumping over rolling logs, battling deadly pain in ass scorpions and trying to time my jumps over randomly opening sand pits. All this just to collect gold bars and reach the end of the game quicker than any of my friends. I used to spend hours roaming left and right in the cheesy 8-bit forest, using swinging vines to take me across gaping chasms and those treacherous hidden pathways, that would get you to your destination sooner, but often result in a lost life or two.

Well after more than a decade of dormancy (we really don't want to remember the 32X Pitfall game), Pitfall Harry's son, Pitfall Harry Jr., has taken over in his dad's footsteps to adventure once more into the deep, dark jungle... this time to try and save a rebel leader (who's a woman by the way) from certain death. Oh, there is also the Moku civilization and ultimately earth itself that is in danger of being taken over by an evil Temptress and her army of vile creatures.

Can Harry Jr. save the luscious rebel leader? Can he stop the evil Temptress from initiating death and destruction on the Moku civilization. Does the earth as we know it hang in the balance? Will Harry Jr. become a crocodile tidbit? Do you even care??? Of course you do! Read on for these answers and many more in the continuing saga of Pitfall Harry in Pitfall 3D: Beyond the Jungle...

Pitfall 3D: Beyond the Jungle is a quasi 3D 3rd person adventure game in the same mold as Crash Bandicoot. Run, jump, swing, issue a few wise cracks and battle some bosses in an effort to save a captured heroin, prevent a civilizations destruction and prevent the conquest of earth... you know the story, just a days work in the life of a hero.

The graphics in Pitfall 3D are quite stunning and wonderfully presented. If you were expecting the bright pastel colored forest of say Crash Bandicoot, you'll be in for a surprise. The jungle scenery and most of the levels are dispensed in a variety of muted earth tones. Browns, sky blues, and olive greens are just a small sampling of the color schemes used in this game. They all come together nicely to create a moody, atmospheric jungle environment chock full of nasty little surprises. There is also abundant use of light-sourcing to bring the environment to life, with lens flaring and transparencies to lend that wonderful touch of realism.

Harry Jr. and his surroundings are presented in richly texture mapped polygons that move about very nicely. Harry is presented very well, if not a bit blocky, and is animated quite fluidly. Depending on what it is that you have Harry doing, there is a special little series of animation's that go along with the character.

The backgrounds also flow by smoothly and evenly. There is very little detectable polygon dropouts and due to the use of clever camera angles, no pop-up! Backgrounds / foregrounds play as critical part in this game as you are now able to swing and jump into and out of the screen. Good thing the surroundings are presented as good as they are or you wouldn't able to tell where the heck you where going and may miss the occasional secret path and the goodies that are normally hidden there.

Another nice graphics technique that is used in the game is morphing. At any given moment, inanimate objects suddenly morph to life and attack our unlucky hero. The way that this little special effects trick is accomplished is really awesome. Molten lava will suddenly begin to change into a lava fighter, while still retaining that molten, glowing look.

And finally, what big production game would be complete without some computer generated cut-scenes thrown in for good measure. The CG's in Pitfall are very nicely done and for the most part does its share of explaining and moving the storyline forward.

You should, without a doubt, like the graphics in Pitfall 3D. Heck, if your not sure just how far console games have come in the last 10 or 15 years, just pop in a copy of the original Pitfall game (if you can find it!) and then thank your lucky joystick that things have evolved the way they did. Sweet!

Sounds and Effects
Ever been in the deep dark jungle and somewhere out there you hear the incessant beating of drums? No?? Hmmmm.... ever seen a movie set in the jungle and then listened to the background music playing? Of course you have... well you'll be pleased to hear that Pitfall 3D has an outstanding musical score chock full of deep bass drum sounds and driving rhythms. They say that sound is often considered 50% of the experience when playing a game or watching a good movie and judging by the way the music in Pitfall gets your adrenaline pumping, I would definitely agree. The music compliments this game to a tee.

The sound effects are brilliant as well... from the subtle skittering of a scorpion approaching from somewhere off-screen, to the metallic "chink" of Harry's ax connecting with an object, you will never be disappointed. Heck, the game even throws another bone to you. Activision signed up Bruce Campbell to do all of Harry's voice-overs. The blend is perfect and the overall result is a finely honed character with one-liners that will have you laughing and not reaching to turn off the sound volume.

Playability was what the original Pitfall game was all about. Control was spot-on and although the game was only a left/right scroller, it offered players underground areas to discover and explore, pesky creatures to avoid or destroy and enough deadly traps to keep players attention spans active throughout the entire game. All in all, a pretty tough act to follow. Enter Pitfall 3D: Beyond the Jungle...

Activision really took their time bringing this title out to the public. The game was delayed and pushed back several times, which usually means the game sucks and has to be totally re-done or fresh new ideas have formed in the developers mind and they take the time to implement them and tweak the game accordingly. I am pleased to say that the latter was obviously the reason for the delay on this puppy. To get right down to it, Pitfall 3D takes all of the basic game mechanics, traps, monsters and thrills from the original title and melds it nicely with today's technology.

All of your favorite, frustrating stuff is back; Harry (well Harry Jr.), the pain in the ass scorpions, the perfectly timed alligator and pit jumps, the vines and the gold bars discover and collect. What has been added is a new point scoring system that rewards players for their achievements, great graphics, awesome sounds and music, and Harry now has a voice.

The point scoring system rewards you for how many crystals you pick up, how many nasties you exterminate, finding hidden areas, and picking up gold bars.

The game does a pretty good job imitating a "go anywhere" environment by offering many branching areas and non-linear paths to follow on each level. In reality, besides choosing to go left, right, up or down at the start of most levels you pretty much have to cover all of the non-hidden areas to complete the level missions. This actually works out quite well in this game though because it gave the developers a few key ingredients to focus on: Where to place the key items; how to place the key "hot-spots" and ensure that the gamer will pass through it and the most important part of all - implementing the camera angles.

The camera tracks your on-screen persona almost flawlessly. When traveling left or right the camera nicely centers Harry on the screen and gives away just enough of your surrounds... travel too quick and you may end up missing a floating platform or an obscured path. When traveling up or into the screen the camera shifts effortlessly to an over-the-shoulder view... again keeping Harry firmly centered on the screen. If you turn around and begin to run down or out of the screen, the camera pans back just enough to give you the reaction you need to make jumps or to do battle. Without exceptional camera control a game like Pitfall would just plain stink. There are very few times when your field of vision is not optimal for the given situation. Again, excellent camera work.

Pitfall 3D also uses three completely different game engines that kick in depending on your whereabouts. The main or ground engine that is used through most of your gameplay, the boss engine for intense one-on-one boss encounters and finally the bonus engine which emphasizes high-speed movement and lightning fast reflexes. It seems that a lot of effort was put into this game to make sure the controls are as perfect as possible and it really shines through in the gameplay.

The levels are also very creative and varied with a good ramp-up in difficulty as you progress and become more familiar with controlling your character. Tomb Raider is another game that comes to mind that perfectly implemented this process. You are easily (pretty much) able to get through the first few levels without undue frustration and embarrassment and before you know it, your hooked in and pushing ever forward.

As I had mentioned, the level design is very nice. On one level you are traversing a rain forest riddled with traps and scorpions and the next level you are battling through an underground cavern, each requiring Harry to pull off some serious acrobatics to survive. Littered about you will find various power-ups, health tubes and assorted goodies to help you persevere through another level.

Overall to say that I liked this update to the original Pitfall would be an understatement. All of the classic gameplay and game design elements are present with just enough embellishments to show off the power of the Playstation perfectly. It ends up being a perfect balancing act that is sure to please a vast majority of game players.

Value for Money
Well as always, the major drawback with games of this type is the replay value. Usually once you finish it, it sits on your shelf collecting dust. Pitfall 3D tries to counter this problem with a good amount of non-linear levels (24), lots of hidden areas to discover and a creative point scoring system that may keep you coming back for more.

Overall I would say that the game succeeds in challenging and holding a gamers interest and climbs it into the "very good" category instead of the normal "good" or average for games of this type.

GRAPHICS: 19/20 Pitfall 3D is a cleverly designed game that really takes all of the good stuff of the original Pitfall game and brings it into the 90's. But perhaps it really unfair to compare the two games. The original Pitfall was released in a generation where it seemed that each new game had a fresh concept and a creative approach... it was indeed something new and different that people had never seem before. The new Pitfall had a really good game to draw from and luckily the developers didn't stray too far from the originals overall concept... fun! With any luck in this quirky console world, Pitfall 3D should be destined to become a classic.
SOUND: 9/10
VALUE: 19/20

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