In 1984, the Activision fan club held a contest tie-in with Pitfall II – Lost Caverns. They created ten special Treasure Hunt cartridges and put them out into circulation. These ten cartridges didn’t have a game, but instead had a very special message.
Any gamer who found them, could contact the Fun Club to claim their prize. The first person to find a cartridge would get £1,000 and the other nine £100 each.
I have been looking online to try to find anyone who won this contest, but I can find no evidence of a winner. It could just be that a person never surfaced or that the contest winners were never publicized.
This contest came out after the Video Game Crash of 1983. Which led me to think that these copies of the game were never sold. So perhaps it became remaindered and returned by store?
I have my doubts about this. While the Atari 2600 was in decline by 1984, Pitfall II was still a game people talked about and is largely considered one of the best Atari 2600 games of all time. It seems unlikely that not one of these cartridges was ever picked up.
Although, I guess stranger things have happened. Maybe all ten of them is sitting, still sealed in a box on some collectors shelf. They look at it every day, proud of their pristine copy of the game. Little do they know that they have something even more special on their shelf then they realized.
My takeaway from this? If you own a sealed copy, run home and tear it open. Throw caution to the wind and see what treasure you might have sealed up on your shelf.
Here is the ad that the Activision fan club ran for the contest. I love the photo of the two people depositing the carts for finding while a mustachioed Pitfall Harry skulks behind them in the foliage. Those two people are Anneka Rice from ITV’s Treasure Hunt and Geoff Heath, who I think is the Marketing, Membership or Media Director for fan club?
Pitfall II – Lost Caverns Treasure Hunt Edition Contest Ad
This is a great little nugget from Atari’s history. If anyone knows anymore details about the contest, I would love to hear from you.