Monday 22 April 2019

Pitfall 3D: Beyond the Jungle (PS1 review)

Developer: Activision
Publisher: Activision
Released: 1998

Pitfall 3D: Beyond the Jungle is a platformer that was also released on the Nintendo Game Boy Color in 1998.

There's 14 stages and your job as Pitfall Harry Jr. is to stop the evil temptress Scourge from destroying Earth. You can attack with your Rock Pick, but power-ups can be collected that include a Boomerang and a Flash Bomb that kills everything in the vicinity. Traversing the environments is generally enjoyable due to the huge levels that offer you multiple routes; sure, all paths end up leading you to the ultimate goal of opening up the exit, but the slight non-linear approach is welcome. There's even save points throughout each stage and the checkpoints are very fair. The swinging mechanic is great fun (especially as you can now shift in mid-air to sway towards or away from the camera in order to reach new platforms or collect items) and the game does a good job of encapsulating the Pitfall universe and expanding on it in fresh ways; however, personally I would like to have seen more jungle stages which the series is known for. There's also lots of trial and error (with disappearing platforms everywhere) and memorising the correct route is the only way to succeed. One of the biggest issues is perspective, as it's incredibly hard at time to recognise whether an object or enemy is in the foreground or background. The controls are sensitive too and you can find yourself falling off the side of a platform with regularity. The combat is where things really take a turn for the worst as the controls are horribly delayed and you'll likely settle for mindless button mashing as a last resort. Also, the bosses feature boring, repetitive patterns, and the controls seem even more slippery than usual in these battles.

Pitfall 3D: Beyond the Jungle has some decent level design and a cool swing mechanic, but overall it's a decidedly average game. In particular, the combat is entirely broken and the annoying perspective issues lead to an abundance of trial-and-error that will test the patience of most players.

Random trivia: The in-game voice of Pitfall Harry Jr. was done by Bruce Campbell, who also narrated Spider-Man 2 (2004, PC).

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