Activision recently stopped by with a new work-in-progress version of Pitfall: The Lost Expedition, the upcoming multiplatform adventure game that puts a new spin on the classic sprite hero. The game is being developed by Edge of Reality and is another update in the Pitfall franchise, which got its first face-lift with Pitfall: The Mayan Adventure for the PlayStation in the late '90's. While we've seen the game on and off since it was first announced in January of this year, this latest version of the game showed off quite a bit more polish.
The most striking improvement we noticed was the tighter presentation. During the past few months Edge of Reality has been able to fully implement the Total Havok physics package and buff up the visuals. The game's rich color palette is used effectively to highlight the varied levels. We were ushered through a sampling of areas that covered the expected bases. An outdoor area relied heavily on greens for its foliage, much of which reacted to Harry's movement, thanks to the game's physics. An indoor cave level offered a sharp contrast of black and brown with the vivid blues and whites that shone from an indoor lake chock-full of flashing electric eels. The snow level featured some nice shading, which offered some subtle flourishes to the surrounding ice-covered areas. A partially exposed temple area mixed earth-tone shades and clean textures in a ruined courtyard dominated by a massive tribal statue.
Our demo also showed off some unique gameplay elements, namely a sequence in which Harry swaps bodies with a mischievous baby monkey. The timed segment requires you to chase down your old body with your new furry one. When you, as the baby monkey, latch onto Harry, this triggers an attack by the monkey's large and surly mother. The goal is to have the mother monkey knock Harry a set number of times so you can retake your body. We were also able to check out other gameplay segments. One showed Harry collecting butterflies (by attracting them with his torch), and another had him using his inner tube to navigate water and even snowy mountains (by using the inner tube as a makeshift snowboard).
Based on this updated version of the game, it looks like Edge of Reality is putting to good use the extra time it has been afforded by the game's delayed release. The game mechanics are interesting, and the graphics are coming along fine. Our only real issue is that, at the moment, it's hard to get a good feel for the game's personality, which currently comes across as a bit generic. Hopefully our next look at the game will let us get a better sense of it. Pitfall: The Lost Expedition is slated to ship early next year for the GameCube, PlayStation 2, and Xbox.