Pitfall: The Lost Expedition
Another day, another platformgame, will it die immediately and be buried on the shelf or it will it heat up in the ps2-drive and copy itself to the RAM in a desperate attempt to be remembered forever and ending up it the mind of gamers only to be mentioned once a year in a nostalgic rush like: “Do you remember the time when we played Pitfall, those were the days my friend”. Ah well, let’s not get sentimental and put once again a platformer to the test and see if my critical mind, can spare some words of appreciation.
The graphics are not high-end at all, but the levels in the tight jungle are charming. The feeling of ancient cultures and childish, naïve archaeological backgrounds really succeeded in setting the right tone. The game doesn’t take itself serious and therein lies its strength, since the few technical flaws are compensated for with typical, platform-funny cut scenes and dialogs and a general atmosphere that is hard to find in games nowadays. It seems that these days all the games have to correspond to reality or have a deeper meaning to it. Personally I can not appreciate that in every game, and luckily for “Pitfall” the developers realised that they should not intent to do so.
One of the technical flaws is that the camera has to be corrected by hand most of the time which you’ll be able to forgive. However, when there is a tribe together with a group of monkeys attacking and throwing coconuts to your face, you will be forced to focus on fighting or fleeing and it becomes quite frustrating when the camera shows only the wrong side of the action.
Harry controls like all characters in platform-games and that works absolutely fine. There is even a neat implementation for the use of the few items you’ll collect on your way. Once the item, like a canteen you can fill with heeling water, is selected you can control it with the right analog stick (pushing it upwards is drinking , pulling it down will fill it at least when you stand in a fountain with healing water of course).
Also platform jumping is probably one of the better realisations I’ve ever seen. You’ll have to jump over a swinging bridge where parts are missing and to make it over some of the larger gaps, you will first have to grip to a lian and swing yourself over. It is classic and good, but you have to pass it for like 20 times and after doing it five times it feels like walking down an old and wretched stair which you have taken your whole life to go to your room and there is nothing exciting about that.
Now, what makes the game feel like work sometimes is that you won’t run through the levels from the first to the last. You’ll stumble on blocked entrances which require you to find a item to open it up. So you get out to find it, but before you know it you will be dragged along in a lot of adventures and encounters with old enemies. This is good, but when you finally possess the needed tool you’ll have to backtrack quite far and quite a lot of times and I must admit that it does get boring. Although this sounds a bit negative, I must say that there are also some advantages. Since your path isn’t so determined it feels more like you have to do something and take some initiative which makes the game last longer.
The puzzles become more interesting once you’ve finish about 40%, but they never become too complicated or frustrating and you can save at every beginning of a level. These levels are not too long, so if you fail just before the end you won’t need to replay the last 45 minutes all over again. If you do have to replay quite a lot, it won’t be so hard the second time and you’ll be able to fly right through, but that naturally leads to the fact that once you’ve finished “Pitfall” you won’t play it over again. (Isn’t that the case with every platformer?!) An average gamer should be able to burst in and out in less than twelve hours, but if you want time for your money there is some good news: “Pitfall 1” and “Pitfall2” are also included on the disc, a very nice bonus if you ever intend to play these older games.
This game has it shortcomings, but I could forgive it and I really had a good time playing. I think it is unfair to consider this as a competitor for the top platform games because it has some smaller technical flaws and the graphics are not the greatest. However all these flaws are made up for by its classical humour and its feeling of good old classic gaming. “The Lost Expedition” is not as revolutionary as its predecessors, but that is not as easy in these days of heavy competition as it was before. If you already played a lot of platforgames lately I don’t think that this one could keep you occupied for too long, but if you really feel the need for one it might just be the next best thing.