First LookPitfall Harry

We check out the upcoming revival of the platforming classic.


Pitfall: The Lost Expedition

Activision recently stopped by to give us a look at how its upcoming revival of the Pitfall franchise, simply titled Pitfall Harry, is coming together. The game is being developed by veteran studio Edge of Reality and will offer a new twist on the classic franchise. If you're a fan of comics, then Pitfall is to the classic Pitfall games what the recent Ultimate X-Men series is to the long-running X-Men books. If you're not a fan of comics, then you probably have no idea what we're talking about, but the bottom line is Harry's back and he's all new. We got a peek at the PlayStation 2 version of the game, which gave us an idea of the different gameplay elements the title will offer. Pitfall Harry is aiming to mix standard platforming gameplay with puzzle solving and some unique mechanics that update the 2D classic.

While the Pitfall franchise made the leap to 3D during the PlayStation era with Pitfall 3D, the latest installment in the classic series will take things even further. The game casts Harry as a young traveler who stumbles into a dangerous new adventure after hooking up with some seemingly benign explorers. Following some unfortunate travel problems, Harry finds himself in a South American jungle, charged with rescuing the explorers he set out with.

Now, tramping through the wilds of South America looking for some lost explorers may sound like fun, but it's dangerous work. Harry will face off against a mix of old and new foes such as surly natives, famished crocodiles, howling monkeys, bizarre insects, life-threatening tree trunks that come barreling at him, and those deadly pits that open and close in timed intervals we've heard so much about on National Geographic Explorer. Fortunately, Harry is well equipped to deal with this daunting collection of adversaries and obstacles, thanks to a meaty assortment of skills. Harry will be able to run, jump, swing, and perform various attacks, all of which come in handy when dealing with trouble. You'll be able to expand Harry's skill set by tracking down new pages for his copy of the Hero's Handbook, which contains a listing of all his available moves. Harry's coolest move is probably a new game mechanic Edge of Reality is calling "direct control." This mechanic lets you use the right analog stick to control Harry's right hand, letting you take active control of flipping switches and using Harry's various weapons, such as his slingshot, and accessories, such as his ice picks and inflatable raft.

You'll have plenty of opportunities to make use of all of Harry's abilities as you go through the game, which features two main gameplay styles. The main type will have you exploring large areas and solving all manner of puzzles. The second type of gameplay, dubbed "pathways to adventure," comes into play while you're traversing the linear levels that are used to link the larger exploration levels. Whereas the exploration levels require you to use your head to solve puzzles and reach new areas, the linear levels are much more action-oriented.

The graphics in the game are looking good. The solid character models are enhanced by impressive animation on everything from their movements to their clothes and accessories. The environments are looking equally good, with a pleasant mix of indoor and outdoor environments featuring the standard themes you'd expect, such as jungle, caves, snow, and lava.

From what we've seen so far, Pitfall Harry is shaping up well enough. Right now, the game has the potential to be a solid platformer, with some potentially cool gameplay mechanics in need of some more distinguishing characteristics. The game will also feature 36 minutes of cinematics and a number of different minigames, so hopefully Edge of Reality will be able to pull everything together into a solid package. Pitfall Harry is currently slated to ship this October for the GameCube, PlayStation 2, and Xbox. A Game Boy Advance version is also slated to ship at the same time. Look for more on the games in the coming months.

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