Pitfall II

Pitfall II – Lost Caverns Treasure Hunt Edition

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

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.

Captain America, Spider-Man and Doctor Doom at CES 1989

Captain America, Spider-Man and Doctor Doom at CES 1989

In 1989, Summer CES took place in Chicago. Marvel was sent three of their biggest characters, Captain America, Spider-Man and Doctor Doom to promote some of the games in which their characters would appear.

As we moved into 1990, we reached a turning point with Marvel Games. Sure the Questprobe games and Spider-Man for the Atari 2600 were great, but Atari had released less than 10 games before 1990. Before the end of the nineties, they would triple that number.

While some of those games would make appearances on computers, in this new decade, they were the minority. Instead, these games would make it to the big show. Appearing on next generation consoles, portables and full-sized arcade games.

So what were they there to promote that year? Well, Marvel released a raft of games in 1990 and 1991 including:

  • X-Men II: The Fall of the Mutants
  • The Amazing Spider-Man
  • Silver Surfer
  • The Amazing Spider-Man
  • The Amazing Spider-Man vs. The Kingpin
  • The Punisher
  • The Punisher: The Ultimate Payback!
  • Wolverine
  • Captain America and The Avengers
  • Spider-Man: The Video Game

An impressive lineup, and for many people who did not grow up in the eighties, their introduction to Marvel’s characters in gaming.

I was a big fan of Marvel comics. So I greedily bought, borrowed or rented any game featuring their characters. So for me the timing was great.

Here is a news segment that talks about the video games at the show that year. They do not mention Marvel, but it is great background and demonstrates just how much video games were evolving.

News Segment about Summer CES 1989

Nowadays we take it for granted that anything Marvel does will make a lot of money. For most of Marvel’s history though, this was not the case. This photo offers a glimpse into a turning point in Marvel gaming. A small victory for them, but one that would be writ on a much larger scale in our local movie theaters during the new millennium.

Space Invaders

Animated original Atari 2600 Space Invaders box art

Today on Twitter I sent out a request. I would like to see a version of Space Invaders based on the art that displayed in their 1980s catalog. This art is colorful and evocative. It seems ripe for a way to reboot the game in a new way that is also respectful of the title’s history.

Space Invaders Catalog Art

Almost immediately, Rediscover the 80s shared a video on Twitter that is an even better idea. Take the original box art and turn those into games. Not only is it a great idea, but an example of exists that they were nice enough to share.

Done by Delaney Digitial, it is a short animation using components from the original Atari 2600 Space Invaders box art. It is compelling to watch and is enough of a proof of concept for me to put my money down on a pre-order. Sadly the animator of the piece does not seem to be pushing this in game form. Nothing we can do about that, but maybe if enough people watch and share this art, they will develop more original animated game art. (C’mon Basic Math!)

That art in turn could inspire some talented developer to make my retro gaming dreams come true.

Watch the original Space Invaders Box Art come to life

While at Delaney Digital, check out some of their other creations, including this modern interpretation of an Atari Console.

3D render of a concept Atari console and controller by Delaney Digital.

Done in all black, like the Atari “Vader,” I find this console a much more compelling offering than the upcoming Atari VCS. Stylistically is looks back to the past while still presenting a modern style console. I would like to think that if Atari had stayed in business all these years, this is what would be in stores.

At this point, I guess we would be at the Atari 26,000. That is adding 2600 to each release after 7800 and trying to match up with each generation releases by Nintendo. For brevity’s sake, lets calls it the Atari 26K.