The Game Pitfall Popped Into My Head Today

We had an Atari 2600 when we were growing up that my aunt who moved to California bought for us for Christmas (I think) one year. I would guess 1983 or so but I can’t remember exactly when. That is certainly one of the earliest things that got me into trying to understand how computers worked. Before that computers were just something I saw on TV. I wanted to know how that little box does these things. Oh did I mention Pitfall along with Spy Hunter are probably two of my all time favorite games?

I liked playing the games too. Yarz revenge stands out and Pitfall stand out to me though. I wanted to beat Pitfall in the worst way. I didn’t even know if it was at all possible to complete it or if it was never ending other than hitting the 20 minute time limit yet deep down I knew it had to have an ending. Beating it was my goal.

Trying to guide Pitfall harry through the jungle was something I spent to many hours doing. I thought the graphics in that game were amazing and they were good compared to so many other Atari games. Compared to more current games they suck but I think newer games go too far with graphics sometimes. I do remember thinking the scorpions were some sort of skulls that were moving around, especially since they were in the tunnels.. I thought the snakes were something electrical and remember thinking WTF is electric doing in a jungle. Earlier games did leave a lot to the imagination trying to figure out what they items were supposed to be. I remember the fires being an odd color but

I remember at one point I started drawing out a map of the screens to try to figure out how to do it but something happened to those papers. I’d work on it before school but not until after I watched weather world on PBS because I loved the details and explanations of the weather on that show.. Something had happened to my papers though. Maybe my mom threw it out as trash or maybe the dog or cat happened. I can’t remember what happened but I remember being pissed off enough to give up on it.

Not too long after that something happened to the TV the Atari was hooked up to. We weren’t allowed to hook it up to the good TV and that was the only television we had in the house for a few years. By good TV I mean the color hand-me-down one in the living room. We always had used TVs but they worked.

One birthday.. I am pretty sure it was my 12th birthday I got my own 19 inch color TV! At that time my parents were starting to be able to afford more things. I got that for my birthday. My brother got a diamondback bike. I think my other brothers ended up getting bikes too but my parents figured I was fine with my old bike because of my eyes and would have less interest in it plus the bigger TV would be better for me to see.

To me this type of game was a lot of fun to play. More modern games seem to have lost that to a point. There have been plenty of them that I have enjoyed but I can’t really think of any that will be something I remember decades later like so many of the 8 and 16 bit system era. Maybe it’s because they were so often some sort of new idea or implementation back then.

It’s amazing what they were able to squeeze out of that very limited processor of the Atari 2600. It also had such a small amount of memory available compared to these days. They had to be efficient so they coped and made it work. Nowadays a simple windows program can be hundreds of megabytes and still be painfully slow even on my 8 core processor with 32 gigabytes of RAM and to think I thought that was overkill when I upgraded to this current machine..