David's first game with Activision and one of his most successful was Pitfall. It starred the game character known as “Pitfall Harry”.

It was a platform game but not in the traditional sense, as the game screens were more varied than your usual simple platform game. It was really an arcade adventure – your objective to guide Harry through a treacherous cavern system, avoiding hazzards like alligators and scorpions. You will need to be quick, as the game has a time limit!

The graphics were simplistic but functional, the sound was mediocre, but the game was certainly very playable.

Due to the success of Pitfall - a more impressive sequel soon followed Pitfall II, which was based on the same concept, but the graphics were much improved and the general game design was technically better.

A really nice feature was the water that flowed in the cavern system – your character could swim above and below the waterline – it was very effective and really added to the enjoyment of the game.

Pitfall II is definitely the better of the two – and one of the best games of its genre.
Pitfall II Advert
Pitfall II Advert

There was a very interesting controversy related to the Pitfall games, in particular the original Pitfall. A company called Microdeal who at the time specialised in Dragon 32 software – developed a game which also appeared on the Commodore 64 called Cuthbert in the Jungle. The controversy occurred because Activision maintained that the games design, look, and feel was a blatant copy of their Pitfall game. Activision were correct and Microdeal were obviously trying to cash-in on the success of Pitfall, as anybody who plays Pitfall and then Cuthbert will instantly notice the similarities! You can also check this out for yourself by comparing the images below and Pitfall and Cuthbert are also playable online using the Java 64 emulator.

Pitfall Activision
Pitfall by Activision

Cuthbert In The Jungle Microdeal
Cuthbert In The Jungle by Microdeal

There is also another way of looking at this – as the fact a company and programmer had taken the time and effort to effectively produce a clone of Pitfall shows not only how good the original concept was but that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!

Microdeal did not learn anything from this experience though, as years later on the Amiga computer they did their own version of Spy Hunter by Bally Midway called Major Motion…