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Montezuma's Revenge Reviewed by Adam Wallace on . Rating: 71%
Montezuma's Revenge
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  • Review Score:

  • B
Pitfall! opened the floodgates for platformers in the early 80s. After that success, run-and-jump games became a big thing from games that are relics of their time like Frankenstein's Monster and Mountain King to harbingers of the future like the original Mario Bros. Montezuma's Revenge is an example of the former, but it's also a damn fine example of the former.

In one of the rare games Parker Brothers created themselves (they usually licensed and ported from other companies like Konami), the player takes on the role of Panama Joe. The goal is to dive into an Aztec catacomb searching for treasure. Montezuma's Revenge takes the single-screen platformer format of the Pitfall games and pumps it full of steroids. Each screen is absolutely loaded with loot and obstacles. Some of the areas are so overwhelming that I actually got thankful when I would find a simple corridor with just a couple of snakes to hop over. It's also very non-linear; there's a lot of backtracking involved to find necessary items. I wouldn't be surprised if this game directly inspired Gunpei Yokoi to create Metroid. Unfortunately, there is plenty of fighting with the mechanics involved. Jumps are only straight up or in fixed arcs. There is no mid-air course correction, making some screens very frustrating. The fact that Panama Joe can die from falling too far also contributes to the frustration, especially since just jumping past one step on a stairwell counts as "too far".

Montezuma's Revenge (Atari 5200)Click For the Full Picture Archive

At least Montezuma's Revenge does deliver the visual goods while you're ripping your hair out. The Atari 5200 version is actually the second-best looking version of the game, second only to the version on the Sega Master System. The colors are bright and vibrant while the other versions from the time had washed out appearances. The animations were impressive for the time from the flames in the fire pits to simple things like the tail wiggling on the snakes. The sound effects are typical for the time, but the pleasant five-note tune that played whenever a treasure was grabbed never got old.

Montezuma's Revenge was a delight. While Panama Joe didn't become a big name like Pitfall Harry did, his game did provide a glimpse of things to come while being a fun (if frustrating) platformer in its own right. Dust off the Atari 5200, find a working controller, and jump into this forgotten treasure hunt.
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