"Dear Activision..."

By Mikey Shake


Dear Activision,

I finally did it and I thought you should know.

Itís been a while, I know weíve both been busy.  Me with growing up, going to school, starting a career, getting married, etc.  You with a huge video game publishing company that weathered an industry crash with years of ups and downs, and what I hear is big success with a popular series with the kids these days.  Iíve been keeping an eye out, and Iím glad to see youíve been doing well.

The reason Iím writing is that, well, I finally earned my Explorersí Club patch.  You know, the free patch youíd send to Pitfall! players who did well enough.  Itís been a while, so hereís what it says in the manual:

Öand I finally succeeded in beating that score last month.  As you can see, I asked politely on twitter, but got no response.

I realize your customer service department might have their hands full dealing with a certain type of irate Call Of Duty fan, screaming with red face while their veins course with some kind of energy drink.  I completely understand their getting priority.  Those folks scare the bejeezus out of me, too.

I found out recently that Pitfall! and I apparently share a birthday.  We were both released on the very same day ó April 20th, 1982.  A birthday thatís coming up, I might add (*ahem*) .

By my estimate, Iíve been working at it off and on for about 30 years ó since somewhere between í84 and í86.  I didnít really know my calendar back then, but like every kid, I knew how to jump over pits.  Even estimating conservatively, thatís a good quarter-century.  I figure with that kind of wait, I should account for inflation, so that pic above more than doubles the requirement.  I didnít wanna waste your time, so I worked hard at it.  Since my family didnít have an Atari at home, it made it harder to practice.  In the third grade, some pals and I dug a pit under our tire swing to practiceÖ in real life.  Sometimes, my middle school friends were pissed off that I wanted to drag out their old 2600 from the basement to play Pitfall! instead of Mortal Kombat II or Primal Rage.

I kept with it, during the good times (Pitfall II, Quake II) and the bad.  And letís not pretend there havenít been some bad times.  That industry crash in the early Ď80sÖ the console warsÖ and letís not discuss your Double Dragon port for the 2600 that I still like even though itís practically impossible.

I included the console in the picture at the top so that you know Iím not trying to cheat using a tweaked emulator or some other port (like one of those delightful Activision Anthology collections available for download on your mobile device now!).  Some of those re-releases (as you know) lower the requirement for some gamesí "patch points".  My valid score comes from an early-Ď80s cartridge on a fully-restored Atari VCS.  In short, this is the real deal.

So, Iíve kept my end of the bargain.  I worked at it for more than 25 years (with a few intermittent breaks).  Could you please send a Pitfall Harryís Explorersí Club emblem of membership?  I checked the manual and there was no mention of "limited time offer" or "while supplies last".  I know itís taken me a while, but see, I only recently got my own Atari console, since, you know, they havenít been manufactured since the early Ď90s.

I definitely donít want to be greedy or ask for special treatment.  Just the same patch that everybody else got for doing the same thing when I was a kid.  Iíd be happy to pay for postage.  Especially since itís 2015, and I donít think that my wifeís going to be able to get me that hoverboard I was hoping for in the next week-and-a-half before April 20th.

I know David Crane isnít sitting embroidering patches in a room at Activision H.Q., and that you might not have a bunch of them laying around anymore.  But I keep hearing my Call Of Duty-playing friends talking about all the medals they were awarded for unlocking achievements.

Arenít medals way more expensive than patches?

And letís not be naive.  It would be great publicity!  "Big giant gaming company reaches out to help nice-guy blogger schmo achieve a life-long dreamÖ for his BIRTHDAY, which is the same day as Pitfallís 33rd anniversary"?  I mean, come on!  You canít BUY press like that!  You know Iíd make sure to tell everyone an Activision story like that.  And youíd better believe that the next time someoneís going on about how the CoD games are just the same thing every year, one little Pitfall! patch could show the gaming community what a swell bunch of cats the fine folks at Activision really are.  Be it in a bar or on a website or gaming forum, thatís the kind of story I know I like to hear!

And you must know how social media and the blogosphere eat up retro nostalgia stuff!  Twenty-somethings with expendable cash to BURN have social media feeds to fill with content about retro-gaming nostalgia and warm fuzzies!  This could be your "E.T. excavation" ó both stories have got pits, right?  And that early Ď80s gaming story got a MOVIE!

Anyway, hope youíre doing well.  Iím still working on those Megamania, Kaboom!, and Keystone Kapers patches, but Iíll probably just buy them online once I earn the right to wear Ďem.  Those are great games.  But Pitfall! isnít just any game.  Itís the king.

Thank you for your time, and thanks for making some really cool games.  And that Double Dragon game, too.

(kinda) Sincerely,

Mike E. ("Mikey") Shake

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