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Classic Games (Games) Games

E.T. Found In New Mexico Landfill 179

Posted by Soulskill
from the nuke-it-from-orbit dept.
skipkent sends this news from Kotaku: "One of the most infamous urban legends in video games has turned out to be true. Digging in Alamogordo, New Mexico today, excavators discovered cartridges for the critically-panned Atari game E.T., buried in a landfill way back in 1983 after Atari couldn't figure out what else to do with their unsold copies. For decades, legend had it that Atari put millions of E.T. cartridges in the ground, though some skeptics have wondered whether such an extraordinary event actually happened. Last year, Alamogordo officials finally approved an excavation of the infamous landfill, and plans kicked into motion two weeks ago, with Microsoft partnering up with a documentary team to dig into the dirt and film the results. Today, it's official. They've found E.T.'s home—though it's unclear whether there are really millions or even thousands of copies down there."
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E.T. Found In New Mexico Landfill

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  • by kruach aum (1934852) on Saturday April 26, 2014 @05:07PM (#46849909)

    To determine the truth value of a proposition, namely whether or not Atari buried a shitload of bad video games under the literal earth. Not so that those games could then be played.

  • by Billly Gates (198444) on Saturday April 26, 2014 @06:31PM (#46850251) Journal

    Atari denied it.

    When prompted key Atari figures would not comment and the lead programmer said there is no way we would have done that.

    Locals say otherwise.

    I was interested and there maybe more gems there (like ET was a gem) like the experimental controller that never hit the market, documents, and other materials. Centipede was found there too. It looks like they just cleared a whole warehouse and dumped it.

    So yes this qualifies as an urban legend.

  • Re:Why, God, why? (Score:5, Informative)

    by greg1104 (461138) <gsmith@gregsmith.com> on Saturday April 26, 2014 @06:42PM (#46850301) Homepage

    Well, first they tried to get the cartridges to levitate themselves out, but they kept falling back to the bottom of the landfill.

  • Re:E.T Hype Fest (Score:4, Informative)

    by greg1104 (461138) <gsmith@gregsmith.com> on Saturday April 26, 2014 @06:54PM (#46850345) Homepage

    And then after Spielberg replaced all the guns in the movie with walkie-talkies, it ruined that one good scene where Elliott shot his eye out.

    The hype around the movie was pretty bad, but I don't remember this as the most overhyped Atari 2600 game. I'd give that honor to the 2600 Pac-Man. The first commercial [youtube.com] in heavy rotation for that one didn't even show the real gameplay. They kinda ripped off the music to "Pac-Man Fever" there too.

  • trapped (Score:4, Informative)

    by v1 (525388) on Saturday April 26, 2014 @07:23PM (#46850463) Homepage Journal

    Tina Amini, deputy editor at gaming website Kotaku, said the game tanked because "it was practically broken." A recurring flaw, she said, was that the character of the game, the beloved extraterrestrial, would fall into traps that were almost impossible to escape and would appear constantly and unpredictably.

    THAT

    My parents never bought me a game console, but a few of my friends had them, and I had two friends with 2600's that had that cart. I recall trying to play it, and yes, immense frustration. You'd walk around on a 2d map with a grid of rooms, and random rooms would be trapped. I could spend 10 minutes trying to levitate out of a trap. My friends usually had better luck, because they'd been playing it so much more, but even they would average several attempts to get out of a single trap. I can see why peope would return the game. Ten minutes of that and the cart came out and something else went in.

    iirc, the trick was to let go of the levitate button AND hit the only correct exit direction, at precisely the moment you emerged from the hole. Otherwise, you'd fall right back in. (I never did really get the timing down, I only got out on rare occasion, I think due to luck) After a few attempts, you'd be out of energy. I think elliot would magically stop by with a handful of reeces pieces or whatever, at a cost of your score, but all that did was extend the frustration. It was impossible to beat the game without both a good memory and escaping several traps. If you had difficulty with the (random) map, you could easily have to deal with dozens of trapped rooms.

    Imagine climging up a ladder and just as you peek your head over the roof edge someone is swinging a shovel at you. You have a split second to dodge the shovel and pull them off the roof or you're falling. Now repeat that 15-20 times. That was 90% of the game.

  • by mikael (484) on Saturday April 26, 2014 @08:25PM (#46850679)

    The game was incredibly hyped up - every game magazine was talking about it as if the messiah was about to return. One of the problems was that the cartridge box art was way ahead of what the console systems could do. On every game, everyone expected the graphics to really look like the box art. Then you'd find the game levels were usually a black rectangle surrounded by colored walls with a few obstacles and some scrolling.

  • by dmomo (256005) on Saturday April 26, 2014 @08:32PM (#46850703) Homepage

    I liked the game too as a kid. It had its shortcomings which by the way are all addressed here. ET is no longer an awful game:

    http://www.neocomputer.org/pro... [neocomputer.org]

  • by Belial6 (794905) on Saturday April 26, 2014 @11:55PM (#46851359)
    The fact that you were not good at the game doesn't mean it sucked. I never found a pit that I couldn't get out of in that game. The game was better than 80% of the 2600 games made. It got panned so badly because it was too complex for most 2600 game players. As rsilvergun pointed out, you actually had to read the manual.

    To make matters worse, the 'hard core' gamers that might have appreciated the game had moved on to the C64/Apple II where they already had 2 Ultima games to compare E.T. to.

    Then the final nail in the coffin was the level of hype put on the game due to the movie left people completely let down.
  • Re: Why, God, why? (Score:4, Informative)

    by O('_')O_Bush (1162487) on Sunday April 27, 2014 @12:44AM (#46851491)
    AtariAge forums did a calculation predicting the amount of gold on each cart, but their math was all jacked up.

    It worked out to be: plating thickness is 4e-5 inches, area on each contact is .025 sq inches, or 1e-6 cubic inches. Gold is at $42/gram, there are 210 grams of gold in a cubic inch, and 12-two sided contacts per cart(already taken into account in area), which gives us $0.11/cart in gold if it were 24k.

    $110k/1 million carts, but really, I would be amazed if labor, machinery costs, delivery, and refining costs would make that profitable.

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