Want CNET to notify you of price drops and the latest stories?

Atari classic Pitfall reborn for iOS

Pitfall Harry returns in this lively "free runner," which is both an excellent homage to the original and a fun spin on the genre.

Rick Broida Senior Editor
Rick Broida is the author of numerous books and thousands of reviews, features and blog posts. He writes CNET's popular Cheapskate blog and co-hosts Protocol 1: A Travelers Podcast (about the TV show Travelers). He lives in Michigan, where he previously owned two escape rooms (chronicled in the ebook "I Was a Middle-Aged Zombie").
Rick Broida
2 min read
The new Pitfall for iOS offers some great variations on the Temple Run theme.
The new Pitfall for iOS offers some great variations on the Temple Run theme. Activision

At the risk of dating myself, I'm old enough to remember Pitfall, the iconic 1982 Atari game of running, jumping, and swinging. Old enough, in fact, to have owned an Atari 2600 and a Pitfall cartridge.

Perhaps it was inevitable that the game would get a modern makeover, and so today brings us Activision's Pitfall for iOS.

Yep, Pitfall Harry is back, and looking mighty snazzy after his evolution from the 8-bit universe. The game is a free runner in the style of the massively popular Temple Run, and before you groan, "Not another runner game!", I have two important points to mention.

First, the new Pitfall is all about running, jumping, and swinging -- just like the original. Granted, old Harry wasn't constantly in motion the way new Harry is, but I think the endless runner style is a perfect match for the Pitfall universe.

Second, this is not merely Temple Run with Harry in the driver's -- er, runner's -- seat. Although the mechanics are more or less the same -- keep running for as long as you can, avoiding obstacles along the way -- the game employs multiple camera angles to keep things interesting. At any given time you might be looking at a side view, an angled rear view, or a straight-on rear view. The camera shifts fluidly as you progress from one area to the next, which I found a great improvement on Temple Run's singular format.

Pitfall also adds a bit of combat to the mix, as you can crack Harry's whip at oncoming snakes and scorpions. That happens with a simple tap anywhere on the screen, while tilting your iDevice shifts him left or right to collect the gold and silver bars that appear along his path.

Speaking of booty, the new Pitfall incorporates a store where you can exchange it for power-ups, upgrades, and even new outfits. Don't have enough in-game cash? You can use the real thing (via in-app purchase) to buy extra diamonds.

Perhaps best of all, Pitfall uses checkpoints to help you overcome that dreaded feeling of having to start all the way back at the beginning after a particularly good run. They're tough to reach, but at least they help you make some actual progress in the game. Otherwise, it's far too easy to just give up.

A universal app, Pitfall costs 99 cents -- well worth it for fans of the original, of Temple Run, or of endless runners in general.

Looking for another twist on the genre? Check out Lionsgate's free Hunger Games: Girl on Fire, which hews more closely to Web classic Canabalt. And be sure to shout out your favorite free runners in the comments.