The story is a great epic for this type of game. Harry was exploring the intricate jungle land of the Amazon when he came across a crystal. Being the curious man that he is, he touched it, henceforth releasing an image of a beautiful woman. She told Harry that she was a Moku (a being that lives in a different world) and that her world was being ripped apart be an evil nemesis known as the Scourge who had gathered luscence (the world's power source) so that he could send his armies into the earth. To put it in Harry's words, "Beautiful girl, suicide mission, I'm in!"
Upon initial inspection, PITFALL 3D's graphics are nearly flawless. Harry's animation is top notch, the landscape is lovely, and the world seems deep enough to the point of perfection. In later levels however (especially the prison complex), the ground is not so lovely and the background faults seem to make themselves more apparent. The enemies (even with dull designs) are usually very fun to fight because of their attractive animation and clever (OK, maybe clever is not the word for it) movements. The game is also accompanied by very slick FMV video cut scenes and (if you can find them) special comic scenes of the game's events, all of which are done very nicely.
Although it does not effect the gameplay dramatically, a very nice highlight of the game is the voice acting. Although it hardly ever has any impact on the story, Activision gave the voice of Bruce Campbell (of the Evil Dead fame) to Harry, and it suits him very nicely. Bruce Campbell also did Jake Burton's voice in Broken Helix, but PITFALL 3D is not an all out laugh fest quite like that. He helps you along in the game, making a funny comment every now and then and always keeping his trademark tone of voice. The games actual sound effects are not much worthy of mentioning, but the music is (most of the time) very exceptionally composed. Most levels have a repetitive but cool beat, and while some of the music outright sucks (again I must point my finger at the prison complex), the soundtrack is quite enjoyable (it is worth is just for the theme/end credits music!).
The fast paced action seems a tad too much to handle at first because of what seem to be annoying camera angles, but once you get the hang of things you will forget all about your bad camera experiences. The control is actually very good and you will not be able to blame death of the controller hardly ever. That is not to say that you cannot blame death on the game itself though. Horrible collision detection in later levels will have you screaming for mercy as you pummel for the fiftieth time into an acid pool (ahem.. prison com-- you get the idea). Harry's only weapon that he keeps is the handy pick ax, but he can get all kinds of temporary weapons like bombs and the like. Using them is a snap, and they are sure to pull you out of some pretty sticky situations. Yet truly the biggest gameplay element to master while playing PITFALL 3D is the art of jumping. You will spend most of your experience jumping over pits, chasms, ledges, lava, etc.
Overall PITFALL 3D is a great game that will no doubt turn a lot of gamers off with its nasty tendency to make you die when all you want to do is reach that platform just a simple hop away. Trial and error and then more error, and you will have PITFALL 3D mastered in no time. Give it a shot!
~Andrew the Game Master