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Pitfall: The Lost Expedition (GBA)
Publisher:  Activision Developer:  Torus Games
Genre:  Platformer Release Date:  02/17/2004
ESRB:  Everyone More Info on this Game
By Steve Steinberg | March 9, 2004
Gaming legend Pitfall Harry returns to the GBA with mixed results. Developer Torus Games gives us plenty of ways to do our adventuring. The only problem is that none of 'em happen to be much fun.
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Pros Cons
Return of Pitfall Harry; lots of different ways to play; usually strong graphics. Generic gameplay; very linear; occasionally too dark.

Nostalgia is a fabulous thing. The passage of time buffers our memories and makes even the darkest of past unpleasantries -- that time you bared your breast at the Super Bowl or went on that career-ruining rant after losing the Iowa caucus -- seem benign and laughable. The power of nostalgia isn't lost on game makers. Whether it's a brand-new port of an old classic or a revival of an old favorite, there's just something exciting about reliving a bit of our gaming past. Activision is hoping that gamers get this same thrill when they fire up the multiple versions of Pitfall: The Lost Expedition. The big console versions have been well received, but some of the old-time platforming fun gets lost in the GBA game.

Way back when, Pitfall was the "Real Deal," my original review of the game was a gushing one: "This is by far the best fall-in-a-hole sim of all time. The vine-swinging physics will astound you -- as will the most realistic alligators you're likely to ever see in a video game!" A million years later, we once again get to go adventuring with Pitfall Harry. The game closely parallels the console Pitfalls. Your journey starts off promising, with Harry trying to put the moves on Nicole, a cute female explorer. Cool, I thought -- finally, a handheld version of one of those bizarre Japanese dating sims. Unfortunately, before our intrepid adventurer can get very far, the plane they are riding on crashes.

You spend the rest of the game trying to save Nicole, archaeologist Dr. Bernard Bittenbinder, and a bunch of other nameless explorers in a host of settings. The game will hit you with plenty of different looks. There are side-scrolling levels. There are top-down levels. You'll be hang-gliding, pogo-ing, and rock-climbing. The game's strength is in the variety of ways it's played. Unlike the majority of platformers available for the system which tend to be either exclusively side-scrolling or isometrically viewed romps, the different gameplay modes keep things from getting too repetitive.

Unfortunately, while you get to do a whole mess of varied things, none of them is all that spectacular or original. The side-scrolling levels are "Platforming 101" -- run, jump, attack, collect stuff, etc. You eventually earn the rights to do powered-up moves, but they aren't nearly as cool as they could have been. Compared to a side-scroller like Prince of Persia, which lets gamers do funky things like control time, the action here is beyond generic.


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