That Time Jack Black Starred in a 1982 Commercial for Atari Game “Pitfall”

Watching Jack Black in this 1982 Pitfall commercial reminds you that he didn’t just come across his wild and zany antics as an adult, he was pretty animated as a kid too. Anyone remember Pitfall? It was one of those games that serious gamers decided to master over a weekend and the scoff at people who found it difficult. There have been variations of the game since its first release but none have ever really seemed to capture the idea of it since then. Plus, the idea of creating a game around pitfalls and challenges such as rolling barrels evolved so quickly that you could probably claim that Pitfall has its hand in just about every game that has something do with pits, huge falls, and objects that are being hurled into the main character’s path. You won’t be likely to hear about this contribution but you can at least think that it had something to do with it.

As for Jack Black, he’s been well known in the acting industry for quite some time, but I’m betting a lot of people didn’t know about this commercial. It’s kind of hard to think that anyone would since when he really started out in movies he was such a big character that his present became far more important than his past. To be honest he hasn’t changed much in the last few decades except to get a little bigger, a lot more hairy, and develop some grey here and there that can be seen in film and photos. Aside from that he’s still got the wild-eyed look that has defined him for so long and been a part of his gimmick. It’s likely what got him noticed since it’s what’s kept him around for this long.

In all fairness the game Pitfall was kind of tough back in the day since video games weren’t the biggest thing going and as a result not a lot of people were entirely focused on them. The gamer nation hadn’t quite reached its full swing yet and despite the continual leaps and jumps in the gaming industry the graphics still left a lot to be desired. But hey, that was high-tech back then and it was what was there. Thinking about how video games started and what they came from you can just imagine what gamers back then would think of the titles that are out now and the technology that’s been created for the pleasure of today’s generation of gamers. In many cases playing a game today is like being able to control a movie with just a few buttons and a joystick. That’s a far cry from a few pixels and some analog movements.

Believe it or not Jack Black has been a gamer for a good part of his life and got his start in the 1970’s with Space Invaders, so he knows very well how the landscape of gaming has changed. Pitfall might not have been the greatest game in the world but it did lay a lot of foundations for the games that came later on.


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