Video Game History Wiki
Pitfall! Coverart.png
Developer(s) Activision
Publisher(s) Activision
Designer(s) David Crane
Release date 1982
Genre Platformer
Mode(s) Single player
Rating(s) {{{ratings}}}
Platform(s) Atari 2600, Atari 5200, Colecovision

Pitfall! is a game released on the Atari 2600 in 1982 that was developed and published by Activision. It is an action platformer game and is one of the most popular games on the Atari 2600 selling over 4 million copies. Many consider it one of the first platformer games.

Creation and Development

A programmer of Activision, David Crane created the game Pitfall!. In an interview he said that he drew a stick man. Then later he drew a path for the stick man to travel on. He also drew trees for the location and treasure for the goal and that is the concept of the game. The graphics and sprites were great and non flickering sprites. The programming of the game took up to 1,000 hours. It was also ported to computers like the Atari 800, Commodore 64, and TRS-80 Color Computer. It was ported to other consoles include the Atari 2600 ColecoVision and Intellivision.


Pitfall Harry swinging over a large hole


The player controls Pitfall Harry, a treasure hunter, through a huge jungle. Pitfall Harry must be guided to retrieve 32 treasures within 20 minutes. The jungle contains many hazards and enemies. He must dodge, jump, duck and climb his way through the jungle to avoid these hazards. Enemies include, crocodiles, snakes, scorpions, and bats. Obstacles to get around are tar pits, quicksand, water, fire, walls, and rolling logs and some can be avoided by swinging on vines. The screen contains a ground level and the underground.


  • Crocodiles
  • Snakes
  • Scorpions
  • Bats


A sequel called Pitfall II: Lost Caverns was released in 1984 icluding similar gameplay but contains different aspects such as no timer and if hurt the character will be pushed back to the checkpoint and it has its own soundtrack. The levels are also longer.

TV Show[]

n 1983, Pitfall! made its animated television debut as a segment on CBS' Saturday Supercade cartoon lineup, under the name Pitfall Harry. The basic plotline involved Harry, his niece Rhonda, and his cowardly mountain lion Quickclaw exploring various lands for hidden treasure. After only one season, Pitfall Harry and Frogger were replaced by Kangaroo and Space Ace. The series has not been officially released on DVD or VHS.