Remembering Montezuma’s Revenge

Remembering Montezuma’s Revenge

Montezuma’s Revenge was one of the early transitional games that became what we now call platform. It combined running left and right, jumping, climbing, and some problem solving. I played Montezuma’s Revenge as a kid on my Commodore 64. I love this game. It was my Super Mario Bros.

Robert Jaeger created Montezuma’s Revenge with concept by Mark Sunshine around 1983.  Players controlled “Pedro” on an adventure on the search for Montezuma’s treasure.  The game had nice simple and tight controls much like another of my favorite games, Mega Man.

You start at the top of a loosely shaped pyramid and works their way down to the king. Then you need to collect keys in order to open the corresponding colored door. The keys had to be collected in a specific order. This lead to young me getting upset that I did not grab that 3rd blue key and now I could not go farther or back so I had to reset the game. Enemies had patterns like rolling, climbing and hopping, and could be killed by picking up daggers along the way.

The theme song to the game sounded awfully close to The Dating Game TV show “Bachelor’s Theme” Spanish Flea. When the player picked up items like gems, keys or torches, the song La Cucaracha played.

Montezuma’s Revenge has been ported to a large number of systems not just the C64 but the Apple II, Atari 2600, Atari 5200, Atari 8-bit, Coleco Vision, The Saga Master System, and even the Gameboy Advance.

Why won't you die

This game had two versions; a prototype 48k version that was made for CES and the official 16k game version released by Parker Brothers. I somehow had the pirated version although I’m not sure how I got it. Some changes in game are the name change of the main character from Pedro to Panama Jack and the fact that the king is not in the 16k version. In the 48k version he was in the game but the programmers never finished developing the game so he can’t be killed. This little bit of trivia would have helped eight year old me tremendously. I tried everything I could think of to kill him. I once played this game for so long the power supply to my computer became overheated and I had to quickly turn everything off and unplug the unit.

I became a gamer because of games like Montezuma’s Revenge. They challenged me to learn patterns, planning and mapping. It was hard, but I could still learn the game and make progress. I marked progress with new screens or every thousand points, was excited with every extra man I earned and did this game make you earn them.

Gameplay footage of Montezuma’s Revenge (C64)


Who knew living in the 80's would lead to writing and podcasting about them 30 years later?

This Post Has 9 Comments

  1. Really great article, drquest! I had this game for my 2600, and loved the hell out of it!

  2. Wow, and not ONE mention of diarrhea. Kudos. That’s the definition I’m familiar with, had no idea they actually made it a game!

  3. We run a classy organization here :P

  4. Even when I take forever and a day to write a story I always forget something. The 3D remake in 1998 called Montezuma’s Return I remember seeing it at A-Z computers back then. I picked it up and really enjoyed it. So if you find a copy of it pick it up and play.

  5. Great article for a great game.
    Think I played this both on the VCS and Colecovision.
    A real treat on both (and likely moreso on other systems).

  6. Just here to make a nerd correction, the character of Pedro was changed to Panama Joe, not Jack.

  7. @Commodore Du Jour Correct they used the name Joe because when they tried Panama Jack they found out a clothing manufacturer already had the trademark. I must have remembered some early promo pics with that name.

  8. I still play this on my Atari 130 XE every so often, really great game!

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