Coming soon to iPhone and iPad: the one and only Super Mario Bros.! Enjoy the classic platformer with enhanced graphics and gameplay!

Excited? Oh, we forgot to mention - it's going to be re-imagined as a Tiny Wings clone. Okay? Great. Bye!

Perhaps we're exaggerating, but to many retro gaming fans that's pretty much what Activision has done with Pitfall!.

Murdering the classics

When Activision announced that it was working on an iOS reboot of the classic 2D platformer Pitfall!, the last thing anyone expected was a 3D endless-runner that essentially copies the Temple Run formula.

But that's exactly what we have. The trouble is, it's a merely decent clone in an increasingly over-saturated field.

Just recently we've seen Agent Dash, which doesn't do anything new with the Temple Run formula but rather manages to polish it to a fine sheen. Putting it bluntly, Pitfall! just isn't as good.

Well trodden

You play the part of a generic Indiana Jones-type adventurer, complete with fedora and bullwhip. As the game starts (which, it has to be said, takes far too long) the view is a kind of 2.5D one, paying homage to the original game.

You have no direct control over your hero's movement. He runs, you swipe to make him jump and duck. Soon enough the view pulls in behind and we're firmly in Temple Run territory.

Now you need to swipe left and right to make him turn a corner, tilt your iPhone or iPad to pick up gems, and tap the screen to whip deadly animals in your path.


There's an in-app purchase system, as you'd expect, which you'll need to use to purchase performance-boosting power-ups. You'll also want to purchase the ability to continue from the checkpoint nearest to where you (inevitably) died.

This checkpoint system actually plays into one of the game's weaknesses - it takes too long to get going. The early stages of each game feel almost artificially easy and - as a result - slow and uninvolving. Compare that with the sense of speed and danger Agent Dash creates from the off and the contrast is marked.

The graphical style is also fairly questionable. The developer has attempted to capture the fuzzy, pixellated look of the 2D original while creating a crisp, Retina display-compliant 3D game world. Your mileage may vary, but I found it looked a little, well, ugly.

This wasn't helped by a couple of very notable - and potentially costly - mid-run stutters and pauses on our third-generation iPad. When the opposition is so slick, this simply isn't good enough.

In trying to reimagine Pitfall!, then, the developer has fallen a pitfall of his own by trying to please old fans and modern gamers alike and succeeding with neither. Underneath it all Pitfall! is still a basically solid game, but it's not the triumphant franchise reboot you may have been hoping for.