Tool-assisted game movies
When human skills are just not enough

Submission #6384: Lobsterzelda's A2600 Pitfall! "Fastest Completion" in 18:19.68

Console: Atari 2600
Game name: Pitfall!
Game version: USA
ROM filename: Pitfall!.bin
Branch: Fastest Completion
Emulator: BizHawk 2.3.1
Movie length: 18:19.68
FrameCount: 65896
Re-record count: 5418
Author's real name:
Author's nickname: Lobsterzelda
Submitter: Lobsterzelda
Submitted at: 2019-05-09 20:40:57
Text last edited at: 2019-05-14 09:12:39
Text last edited by: Lobsterzelda
Download: Download (14680 bytes)
Status: decision: cancelled
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Author's comments and explanations:

Emulator Version:

BizHawk V. 2.3.1 (x64)

Emulator Settings:


Programming Errors Exploited:

While there are no overt programming errors that are exploited to save time, at several points in the run, I repeatedly jump in front of a barrel, pressing jump again as soon as I hit the ground so that I don't take damage (taking damage causes Pitfall Harry to stop moving for a fraction of a second). I believe this works due to some kind of asymmetry in Pitfall Harry's walk cycle. By repeatedly jumping, his walk cycle keeps being reset, allowing you to keep running without stopping when you land from a vine with a barrel right behind you, which saves a quarter of a second or so each time. An example of this can be seen at 6:53 in the encode of the run seen below.


At 6 points throughout the run, I fall down into pits, which costs me 100 points off of my score each time. This is why I finish with a score of 113,400 points, instead of the maximum score of 114,000 points. The reason why I did this is that falling into pits is a half second faster than climbing down ladders, since it skips Pitfall Harry's animation of getting onto the ladder when he starts to climb down, and getting off the ladder when he reaches the bottom.


The goal of this movie was to beat Pitfall! as quickly as possible. In doing so, I ignored my in-game score. To me, this makes sense, since thousands of players have gotten the best possible score in Pitfall!, but no person has ever beaten the game this fast before.

Game Description:

Pitfall! is a game released for the Atari 2600 in 1982. In the game, you play as a man named Pitfall Harry. Your goal is to explore the jungle you are in and collect all 32 treasures in the Jungle before time runs out. You are given a total of 20 minutes to accomplish this task, and you also have only 3 lives. Harry loses a life whenever he falls into one of the tar pits, when he falls into the water, when he touches a snake, when he touches a fire, or when he touches one of the scorpions. Additionally, Harry gets frozen in place for a second when he touches a stationary log, and if one of the rolling logs touches him, he is frozen in place until the log has rolled completely through him. It is worth noting that in this game Harry runs and jumps at the same speed, and also runs at the same speed as the rolling logs. As such, if a log is 15 pixels behind you at the start of the screen, if you run to the end of the screen without stopping, it will still be 15 pixels behind you at the end.

The treasures, hazards, and starting location of Pitfall Harry are always the same at the start of each game. Additionally, the game is structured as a circular maze, where if you head right long enough you will eventually wrap around the map and reach the point that you started at. Additionally, each underground exit takes you 3 screens forward in that direction (ex. if you take the underground exit to the left, you will appear 3 screens to the left of the current screen, while if took the above-ground exit, you would have appeared one screen to the left). In order to beat the game in the time limit, you must use the underground passageways.

TASing Process:

One of the more difficult parts of TASing Pitfall! was to figure out when it was faster to take the vine over an obstacle or to walk/jump over the section that the vine covered. In most cases, walking was faster, since it skipped waiting for the vine to reach Pitfall Harry, to pause, and then swing to the opposite side of the screen. However, in a few cases it was faster to take the vine if the vine was positioned such that it was already starting to swing to the opposite side as soon as Pitfall Harry got under it. In general, if a vine gets in front of Pitfall Harry for any amount of time that he walks under it, it is faster to take the vine. If the vine is always either directly above or behind Pitfall Harry, then it is faster to walk. Of course, for most screens, this choice didn't occur, since you either had to take the vine to get over the obstacle, or the vine was optional and would clearly require a long wait to use it. For parts where you had to use vines over a pit that repeatedly disappeared, the timing for when to jump off the vine was harder to figure out than usual. For any tar pit that doesn't disappear, it is always fastest to jump off the vine as soon as you reach the other side, since Harry moves very slowly at the ends of the vine. However, when the pit disappears when you are halfway under it, then it is faster to jump off slightly before this point. However, if you jump off too early, then you will lose the speedboost that Pitfall Harry gets when the vine is at the center of its swing, which will cost you time.

At some points in the TAS, I would just barely be able to make it to a vine before it swung away, or to just barely make it past one of the disappearing pits, which would cause a chain reaction of me just barely making it over the obstacles at the end of the next few screens (since most of the obstacles in the game move on a global timer that is carried over from room to room). On the flip side, sometimes a vine would be just barely out of my reach no matter how soon I jumped, which would cause me to just barely miss being able to make it over obstacles in the next few rooms, causing me to have to wait in each room. This was annoying when it happened, but luckily, there weren't too many points in the run where I had to wait a long time.

Ultimately, this was a fun game to TAS. Pitfall! is one of the earliest games to emphasize fastest completion time as a goal, and also one of the longest home video games released at the time, making it a great candidate for a TAS. To my knowledge, this is the first TAS of Pitfall! for the Atari 2600 to be submitted to TASVideos, and I think it would make a good addition to the site's vault. I hope you enjoy watching this run!

Encode of the TAS:

(Link to video)

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