While I’m still nowhere near the 100k mark for Sega’s conversion of Activision’s classic Pitfall II, I have learned a few ways of maximising points on the first stage of the game. So here are my tips for avoiding danger and getting as many points as possible before entering the titular Lost Caverns…
1. You get points for simply running, so try to run around as much as possible to boost your score. Bear in mind this approach has to be tempered against the time limit, which is only increased when you pick up treasure.
2. On any screen where things are falling from the sky (excluding the volcano screens) if you hand around for long enough a bonus money bag will fall from the sky. The location this falls from seems to be pretty static. Money bags give you 1000 points each but more importantly add 30 seconds to your time limit.
3. On the screens where there are logs rolling towards you and there’s a hole in the middle of the screen with a scorpion underneath, I’ve found that if you start running across the screen immediately you can jump over the first log and fall through the hole and you’ll never actually hit the scorpion. It will be close, but you should then run left and pick up the treasure from the preceding screen.
4. It seems to pay off time-wise to take action straight away. For example on the screen with the swinging ropes you can run and jump on to the first rope as soon as you appear on the screen. Similarly on the screen with the crocodiles you can just start running and jump over them immediately. This is important as you need to keep moving as quickly as possible to avoid running out of time.
5. When you get to the final screen of the stage, immediately run and jump over the first fireball and fall through the hole in the middle of the screen. Chances are you will probably die due to hitting the bat on the lower half of the screen, but this is actually an advantage as you will restart the screen on the lower part with a full 3 minutes of time. You can then run to the left to pick up a money bag and then go back and finish the stage by collecting the key. You get a bonus for all remaining time so will get way more points this way than if you complete the stage with just a few seconds remaining. Of course you may regret losing that life later on, but by that point you should have got an extra life for reaching 20,000 points so you could just see it as a worthy sacrifice!