Before Mario, there was Pitfall Harry--jumping over scorpions and swinging across vines in his own Indiana Jones-style adventure on the Atari 2600. What players remember most about the original Pitfall games were how unforgiving they were. Landing in a pit or falling into a crocodile's mouth would simply kill you. Pitfall: The Lost Expedition for the Game Boy Advance isn't nearly that tough, but it does stay true to Harry's roots in various ways. There is plenty of platform-jumping and vine-swinging to be had, and you'll need split-second reflexes (as well as the constant use of the continue function) to advance past some of the game's nastier obstacles. Along the way, you'll find all of the trappings that you'd expect to find in a modern platformer on the GBA. Minigame tasks and plot scenes crop up frequently, and the character animation is so smooth--not to mention hilarious--that most players will come away genuinely entertained when all is said and done.
Like many GBA games these days, Pitfall: The Lost Expedition includes a bit of everything. You begin each world by participating in a minigame activity, which usually entails navigating an obstacle course with an apparatus such as a hang glider or a pogo stick. The next four levels in each world are standard fare. You'll tackle three side-scrolling stages, which are loosely patterned after the Pitfall games of yesteryear, along with an overhead view stage that's vaguely reminiscent of Nintendo's Zelda games. At the end of each world, you'll participate in a boss battle, where you typically need to use Harry's jumping and slingshot abilities to exploit a split-second vulnerability in the boss's attack pattern. In all, there are 27 different levels to complete.
Harry has a wider range of abilities here than he had in the old Atari Pitfall games, and these additional moves tend to enhance the design rather than detract from it. Instead of just avoiding enemies, you can use Harry's slingshot to get rid of them. If you come across a ledge or a vine that you can't quite reach, you can use the double jump to give yourself a boost in midair. Besides running and jumping, Harry can also gently climb down from ledges, and he can tuck into a ball and then somersault through tight spaces. As the game progresses, you can use treasure you find to upgrade the range and power of Harry's abilities.
The original Pitfall games were known for their unforgiving difficulty. Running into a log or falling down a hole would subtract points from your score, while landing in the water or jumping into a crocodile's mouth would take one of your three lives. In Pitfall: The Lost Expedition, Harry has a life meter, which means players can take five hits before having to start the level over. When you run out of health, the game doesn't end, and Harry doesn't die. Instead, you simply go back to the beginning of the level you're on, and you try it again. Pitfall purists won't appreciate the fact that the latest installment has been made kinder and gentler as a result of its modernization. But to the game's credit, some of the later levels are extremely difficult to get through even with five health points and an unlimited number of continues.
Just from looking at the graphics, you can tell that Pitfall: The Lost Expedition was designed with a younger audience in mind. The characters are cartoonlike, so they're presented in a style that is more funny than menacing. For instance, Harry's eyes will bug out, and his arms will swing when he's in danger. When you hit an enemy with a pebble from Harry's slingshot, it will fall over, and a ghost will slip out of the carcass. When you run out of health, Harry doesn't keel over dead. Instead, he falls to the ground as if he's taking a rest. The animation is smooth throughout, and even if you don't appreciate the kid-friendly look, it's easy to be impressed by all of the extraneous details that go into Harry's actions. Landing from a jump or diving into the water will result in the appearance of a tuft of dust or a flume of water, and there are all kinds of superfluous arm and leg motions involved with basic actions like running and jumping. The backgrounds in the overhead view stages aren't as detailed as those found in the side-view stages, and the animation isn't as diverse, but thankfully, only about one-third of the game occurs from the overhead viewpoint.
On the whole, Pitfall: The Lost Expedition doesn't hold a candle to games like Yoshi's Island or Super Mario World. The gameplay isn't rich enough to put it in the same league as those games, and at 27 levels, the entire adventure is a bit on the short side. From a purely superficial perspective, Harry and his adversaries don't pack as much charm or charisma as familiar characters like Mario or Donkey Kong. The sound effects and the music also fail to stand out. The voice samples are clear, and jungle-inspired beats make good use of the GBA's instrumental capabilities, but there's no recognizable theme that simply cries out \"Pitfall!\"
Taken for what it is--which is the next installment in the Pitfall franchise--Pitfall: The Lost Expedition is a decent side-scrolling action game that should satisfy younger players as well as longtime fans of the franchise.
The Lost Expedition is the sixth game in the Pitfall! series and a Continuity Reboot of the first two games, marking the return of Pitfall Harry, Sr. as the main character. It was released on the PS2, Xbox, and Nintendo GameCube and later ported to the Wii as Pitfall: The Big Adventure.
It's 1935 and Pitfall Harry, the fearless, rough-and-ready treasure hunter, returns to help a beautiful archaeologist rescue her father and thwart the evil Jonathan St. Claire from claiming the lost Incan city of El Dorado, which in the game, is built upon Machu Picchu in Peru. As Harry, players encounter various animal enemies scorpions, bats, piranhas, alligators and even penguins as well as human adversaries under the leadership of the sinister St. Claire throughout your expedition in the mighty South American rainforest. Numerous abilities are at the player's disposal as Harry recovers pages of the Heroic Handbook. With his various items, Harry is equipped for almost anything. Harry will also find lost explorers and be rewarded with golden idols for his trouble, which he can then use as currency with the Shaman.
The structure of the game is classic for 2D platform games, in that it is based around a small hub area from which the 6 different environments can be entered via portals. At the beginning, most portals are closed because certain items are required to activate them. The environments themselves contain approximately five levels each and are varied, spanning from lush jungles and underground caverns to snow mountains and ancient cities. The levels can be divided into three types. Most levels are in standard 2D where you move from left to right. These are generally the most fun. Other levels incorporate a top-down perspective ala Golden Sun. The last category involves racing. Here, the camera takes on a fixed route and you have to avoid obstacles, while shooting down enemies that stand in your way. These are often quite challenging and more intense than the other levels and, thus, provide a great sense of variation.
In conclusion, the game simply has too many design flaws for it to get anywhere near the quality level of its predecessors. While technically respectable and occasionally exciting, the gameplay is far too generic and the controls are far too unintuitive to make this game a worthy purchase.
The levels are varied enough and their design is acceptable, but the game is not keen on rewarding exploration. Furthermore, the camera is too close to the action, which limits your vision and often causes death followed by frustration.
Before the founders of Activision broke away from the tyranny of Atari back in the early 80's, the platforming genre was basically non-existent. It wasn't until the liberated brutes kicked out Pitfall! for their former employer's Atari 2600 console that jumping, climbing, swinging, and swashbuckling through side-scrolling, obstacle-laden environments became a cornerstone of videogame design. Yes, the original Pitfall! paved the way for thousands of platformers to come. But then came the inevitable onslaught of sub-par Pitfall follow-ups and sequels, and poor Pitfall Harry was left standing out in the cold, holding his whip in the wind. Luckily, his newest adventure, Pitfall: The Lost Expedition, has found its way to a console near you and it's actually not that bad of a game.
Unlike every other previous Pitfall passage, the game's titular hero gets a substantial personality makeover in The Lost Expedition. Harry is a quirky yet quick, boorish yet brave, goofy yet gutsy protagonist who wouldn't think twice before putting the moves on a pretty lady that strikes his fancy. The story begins as Harry, his colleague Dr. Bittenbinder, and Dr. B's associate Nicole are onboard a passenger plane that is suddenly struck by lightning and downed in the dangerous jungles of South America. Harry narrates the story himself and tells it as if recounting moments from the past, which makes sense since he is in fact recounting moments from his past. At first, Harry is pre-occupied with attempting to track down his colleagues and lost items but as the game progresses the story splits off into all manner of crazy paths.
The gameplay in The Lost Expedition is similar to that of Capcom's Maximo games, which is to say that Harry can run in any direction, jump, double jump, and utilize several different weapons. Also like Maximo, Harry will oftentimes be tasked with accomplishing tricky platform jumps that require precise timing and timed precision to successfully land. The Lost Expedition goes about tying the game's many different areas together through allowing the player to access certain areas only after they have retrieved the required