No relation to the Atari 2600 game, "Pitfall" was a game show hosted by Alex Trebek, produced in Canada and seen in syndication in the United States during the 1981-82 television season.

In the main game, two contestants competed to predict how the studio audience would answer various multiple choice opinion questions, on which they voted instantly using keypads at their seats. Any time a contestant correctly predicted which choice was picked by a plurality of the audience, they earned a point; it took five points to win the game, although there was also a time limit if that day's audience turned out to be tough for the contestants to figure out. Winning the first, third, and fifth points also awarded that contestant a "Pit Pass," which came into play in the bonus round.

The bonus round was played up above the main set, on an eight-section walkway. Before Alex and the contestant went upstairs, the sections would flash in random order, with five of the sections lighting up once and three lighting up twice. The three that lit up twice were the Pitfall sections.

Once up on the walkway, the contestant had 100 seconds to answer general knowledge questions. Each correct answer was worth $100 plus a step to the next section. If the contestant believed the next section was a Pitfall, they would hand Alex one of their Pit Passes and could move ahead two sections.

If the contestant stepped on a Pitfall section, that entire section would slowly drop to the lower level, while the clock continued to run. Once the contestant hit bottom, a right answer would stop the clock, raise the section back up, and allow them to step to the next section.

A contestant who made it all the way across within the time limit won a prize package worth about 5,000 Canadian dollars. Despite that being fairly cheap for game show winnings even in 1981, the show only lasted one season mainly because the production company went bankrupt.

Designed by David Crane for Activision, Pitfall was one of the Atari 2600's finest hours. You must guide Pitfall harry across deadly pits, past crocodiles, jump scorpians, and collect treasure.

It was the game to have for the 2600.

There was also a sequel, Pitfall II: The Lost Caverns, which surpassed anything else ever done on the 2600, bar none. You would swear that you were playing a nintendo, seriously.

Pit"fall` (?), n.

A pit deceitfully covered to entrap wild beasts or men; a trap of any kind.

Sir T. North.


© Webster 1913.

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