In the game the player pilots a starfighter, with the purpose of destroying a number of enemy ships before they destroy four friendly starbases. Gameplay is presented mostly in first person cockpit view, which is achieved with surprisingly good effect given the 2600’s primitive graphics capabilities.
The starfighter carries laser weapons, shields, and a faster-than-light drive. The fighter also carries a limited energy supply, which is drained by firing the lasers, being hit by enemy fire, warping, or simply flying around. If the ship’s energy drops to zero it is destroyed, and the game ends. Enemy fire can knock out the fighter’s subsystems (such as weapons) on top of draining energy.
The game “universe” is a square-shaped galaxy mapped into a grid of 36 sectors. Each sector can be home to some enemy ships, a starbase, both, or nothing. The player “warps” the fighter to a sector to engage enemy ships; once they are all destroyed, the player moves on to another. The player can also warp to a sector with a starbase, and dock with it (a rather tricky process) to replenish energy and repair damaged subsystems. Enemy ships in turn maneuver through the galaxy as they home in to destroy the starbases.
The game is won when all enemy ships are destroyed, or lost if either the player’s fighter or all four starbases are destroyed. In this way a game can last only a certain time, in contrast to games like Space Invaders which can go on forever.
Enduro consists of maneuvering a race car in the National Enduro, a long-distance endurance race. The object of the race is to pass a certain number of cars each day. Doing so will allow the player to continue racing for the next day. The driver must avoid other racers and pass 200 cars on the first day, and 300 cars with each following day.
As the time in the game passes, visibility changes as well. When it is night in the game the player can only see the oncoming cars’ taillights. As the days progress, cars will become more difficult to avoid as well. Weather and time of day are factors in how to play. During the day the player may drive through an icy patch on the road which would limit control of the vehicle, or a patch of fog may reduce visibility.
Atari 2600 (original)
Apple II, Arcade, Atari 5200, Atari 8-bit, ColecoVision, C64, MSX, PC booter, SG-1000, TRS-80 CoCo, ZX Spectrum
The original Pitfall! has the player-character Harry exploring a jungle, collecting treasures, and avoiding danger in the forms of crocodiles, scorpions, cobras, and quicksand. Lost Caverns expands the scope of the environment dramatically, as Harry 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. For unintentional falls from ladders down to lower levels (but not landing into the river), 100 points are deducted.
Unlike the original Pitfall!, 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. Snakes and crocodiles are not in this version, but scorpions are still there. New animal hazards include bats, which fly across some screens from left to right; condors, which start by flying right to left, then reverse and fly left to right the remainder of the visit to that screen; Electric eels that swim in the rivers; and frogs that jump over some pits that have ladders, often above where a bat is present.
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.
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. Collecting the rat from behind after going through the entire cave (just before collecting Quickclaw) will net Harry 15,000 points.
Another enhancement over the previous game is the addition of a soundtrack. Themusical cues act as subtle rewards and punishments for performance. The main “heroic” theme plays for a short while before reaching a loop of atmospheric 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.
Pitfall II: Lost Caverns was one of the largest games ever created for the Atari 2600 and featured elements previously considered impossible on hardware that was already six years old at the time. Smooth scrolling, detailed animation, and a musical score that includes multiple channels were all made possible by custom hardware built inside the game cartridge. Crane designed and patented a component he called the Display Processor Chip (DPC), which could greatly enhance 2600’s graphics capabilities and could process music in 3 channels plus drums. Crane hoped that the DPC would be used by other game designers to further extend the life of the aging console, but the video game crash of 1983 made this moot.
Ready for a little round up? With Stampede by Activision, you’ll have to ride fast and rope even faster. Those little dogies seem to be everywhere, and they’re all worth points. But, be careful!
Your ol’ horse can get a little edgy, especially when you take your eyes off the trail. So, head out West for hours of fun with Stampede!
The objective of Stampede is to round up all of the cattle you encounter. To do so, the player must lasso each one in order to capture it. The player is initially only allowed to let two cattle pass; if a third one slips by, the game is over.
In Sky Jinks, the player pilots a low-flying Seversky XP-41 the player must bank around a prescribed number of pylons. The XP-41 can bank left and right, as well as accelerate and decelerate. Flying into a pylon, tree, or hot air balloon slows down the plane.
The game comprises four predefined courses—Polo Grounds, Aero Race, Love Field, and Speedy Meadows—as well as a pseudo-randomly-generated course called Thompson Tourney.
Three pigs, each with their own house, find themselves being attacked by the nefarious Bigelow B. Wolf (B. B. Wolf, for short). The wolf attempts to break through the three-layer-deep wall of the pigs’ homes by blowing away pieces of the wall. Simultaneously, the pig must collect patches from the top of the screen and drop them into holes in the wall at the bottom, thus protecting the pig from the wolf’s breath. If the pig should be hit by the wolf’s breath, he will be stunned and start to fall out of the house. A life will be lost if the hole in the wall is big enough for the pig to fall completely through.
The wall in the first house is yellow, representing the straw used to build the first little pig’s house. Similarly, the wall in the second house is brown, as the second little pig’s house was made of sticks, and the wall in the final house is red, since the third pig’s house was made of bricks.
The player scores four points for each patch applied to the wall. When all the patches are used, a new row of patches appears, and the wolf’s attacks speed up. Each time a new row appears, the point value for the patches multiplies; for example, each patch from the third row would be worth twelve points.
Oink! has a total of three gameplay variations. The first game is for one player, and the remaining two are for two players. The second game has the two players alternating playing the role of the pigs. In the third game, one player plays the pigs while the other player controls the wolf. When the wolf is successful in catching a pig, the roles alternate, such that both players assume each role three times. In this variation, the player can only score points when playing as the pigs.
Megamania gameplay resembles that of Astro Blaster, but rather than being aliens or spaceships the enemies in are various objects such as hamburgers,
bow ties, and steam irons. The object is to shoot them down before the energy bar at the bottom of screen is depleted, all while avoiding the oncoming enemies and their own projectile attacks. Each of the enemies fly in select patterns and as soon a
s they hit the bottom of he screen, they re-appear at the top until shot by the player. The player’s spacecraft depicted in the game is a cross between the U.S.S. Enterprise and Klingon battlecruiser from the Star Trek universe.
Atari 2600 (original)
Atari 5200, Atari 8-bit, ColecoVision, MSX, C64, Intellivision, Apple II
April 20, 1982
The player controls the character (Pitfall Harry) through a maze-like jungle in an attempt to recover 32 treasures in a 20-minute time period. Along the way, players must maneuver through numerous hazards, including pits, quicksand, rolling logs, fire, rattlesnakes, scorpions, and crocodiles. Harry may jump over or otherwise avoid these obstacles by climbing, running, or swinging on vines. Treasure includes bags of money, gold and silver bars, and diamond rings, which range in value from 200
0 to 5000 points in 1000 point increments. There are eight of each treasure type, with 32 in total. A perfect score of 114,000 is achieved by claiming all 32 treasures without losing any points. Points are deducted by either falling in a hole (100 points) or touching logs; point loss depends on how long contact is made with the log. Under the jungle there is a tunnel which Harry can access through ladders found at various points. Traveling though the tunnel moves forward three screens at a time, which is necessary in order to collect all the treasures within the time limit. However, the tunnels are filled with dead-ends blocked by brick walls, forcing the player to return to the surface at one of the ladders, and try to find a way around again, thus wasting time. The tunnels also contain scorpions. The player loses a life if Harry comes in contact with any obstacle (except logs) or falls into a tar pit, quicksand, waterhole, or mouth of a crocodile. The game ends when either all 32 treasures have been collected, all three lives have been lost, or the time has run out.
The object of Laser Blast is to destroy a series of land-based enemies. The player controls a fleet of flying saucers, operating one at a time. On the planet surface below are a group of three mobile laser bases, guarded by an invisible force field that prevents the player’s saucer from getting too close to the surface. Both the player and the enemy bases are armed with laser blasters, which may fire a single continuous beam at a time. If the player’s saucer is hit, it will lose altitude and crash to the ground; however, the player may direct this fall, potentially into one of the bases, destroying it as well. Each succeeding wave of enemy bases moves faster and targets the player’s saucers more quickly, while the force field becomes stronger and decreases the amount of space in which the saucer can move.
Players score points for each base destroyed, with points multiplying each wave up to a maximum of 90 points per base. Players earn extra flying saucers with each 1000 points scored and may keep a maximum of six extra saucers in reserve.
Each level consists of four waves of twelve bugs each; defeat all four waves and the player will move on to a more difficult and faster-paced level.
Play then resumes until the building crumbles to the ground. If six or more bugs get through the open windows, part of the building will be eaten away, and you will have to replay the level. The patterns vary for different colored spiders. Black spiders will move straight up the building, blue spiders wiggle from left to right, red spiders move diagonally, and green spiders zig-zag between windows.