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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 pla (258480) on Saturday April 26, 2014 @05:14PM (#46849949) Journal
    An "urban legend" refers to something that sounds true, but may or may not actually have happened (though usually not, and when actually real, usually they blend several unrelated events into one narrative). It usually has a moralistic component to it, where somehow the naughty teenagers or the careless company or what-have-you gets their just desserts.

    By contrast, the burial of ET in the desert meets none of those criteria. Atari dumped millions of cartridges in the New Mexico desert to dispose of them, we have an abundance of documentation from the era that it really happened, and the only "moral" to the story involves not expecting your developers to cover your $12M bet with their own asses in the month before Christmas.

    Otherwise - Very cool, to see these recovered. Now they can properly recycle them as eWaste, rather than just letting them slowly leach lead into the ground.
  • E.T Hype Fest (Score:5, Insightful)

    by l0ungeb0y (442022) on Saturday April 26, 2014 @06:01PM (#46850153) Homepage Journal

    As a kid in early 80's, I remember the unprecedented media onslaught around E.T., which was a harbinger for things to come.
    They had cross over promotions for everything from Reese's Pieces, McDonald's Happy Meals, Breakfast Cereals, Lunch Boxes and Underoos.
    While watching Scooby-Doo and other afternoon cartoons, then it seemed nearly every other ad on TV was either a tailer for ET or ET related.

    And then... the big day came, the Movie came out and with bated breath I waited in one of the longest lines ever at the theatre for what was surely the greatest movie ever made. Only to find myself half asleep in a dark movie theatre waiting desperately for the most boring piece of sappy ass garbage to end so I could go home.

    And that day in 1982, a 10 year old boy became jaded and cynical.
    It was truly a "Drink your Ovaltine" moment.

  • Re:Why, God, why? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Kjella (173770) on Saturday April 26, 2014 @06:19PM (#46850203) Homepage

    As for the quality, it was what it was, and it wasn't really any worse than the other games available for the 2600 at the time, so I didn't really know the difference. I liked it because it made me think about strategy in ways I hadn't otherwise yet learned at 8 years old, it taught me planning because I mapped out on paper some of the puzzle piece locations so I could try and find a pattern (sorta like D&D, even though I was never allowed to play that), and most of all because it certainly taught me patience beyond my years. I look back fondly at the E.T. game - not for the gameplay, but for what I learned as a young gamer because of what I now know are its flaws.

    You forgot the most important lesson, sometimes no matter what you do or think you could have done differently you're fucked because you're set up to fail. That's important to remember when the project you're on fails miserably and the crap rolls downhill, of course assuming you weren't the screw-up.

  • by clarkkent09 (1104833) on Saturday April 26, 2014 @06:33PM (#46850257)

    It wouldn't work. Microsoft products can only be destroyed in the fires of Mount Doom.

  • Re:E.T Hype Fest (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Billly Gates (198444) on Saturday April 26, 2014 @06:34PM (#46850265) Journal

    ...waiting desperately for the most boring piece of sappy ass garbage to end so I could go home.

    And that day in 1982, a 10 year old boy became jaded and cynical.
    It was truly a "Drink your Ovaltine" moment.

    And then you had to watch Star Wars Episode 1 with Jar Jar and racing graphical effects in an unrealistic plot.

  • by clarkkent09 (1104833) on Saturday April 26, 2014 @06:37PM (#46850279)

    Maybe I'm missing something but why is this such a big deal. Landfill is an obvious place to dump a bunch of stuff you don't want. Or did Atari not use an existing landfill but sent people out to dig a hole specially for these cartridges?

  • by antdude (79039) on Saturday April 26, 2014 @07:07PM (#46850401) Homepage Journal

    When I was a callow ant, I got this game for Christmas from my parents IIRC. I was all :) to get this game because I enjoyed the movie in the theater. I never understood how to play it like most people. My older friend did and told me how. It wasn't too bad. Not a great game. There are worse games like these: http://www.deafsparrow.com/201... [deafsparrow.com] ...

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

    by Opportunist (166417) on Saturday April 26, 2014 @09:44PM (#46850905)

    E.T. wasn't as bad a game as it is now made out to be. It was bad, ok, but not that show piece of "worst game of all times" it's made out to be now. It just had a lot pushing against it.

    1) Hype. The game was hyped like ... I have no idea if there has ever been anything hyped like that in contemporary history so younger... wait! SPORE! Yes, that about does it. No, not even close. Spore was hyped as the next best thing in computer gaming, the game to end all other games and whatnot... E.T. was worse. Way worse. It was like THE GAME for the 2600 would be coming, the ultimate pinnacle of computer gaming. If you won't have it, you'd be a NOTHING, your friends would not talk to you anymore, your dog would pack and leave ... you get the idea. The only thing they possibly didn't promise that this game would do is cure cancer. Nothing can possibly live up to such a standard, not today and by no means a game in that time and age back then.

    2) Game-after-movie. Now, today games modeled after movies are usually rather well done. Most of the time, ok. Franchise holders don't want to tarnish their name with a bad game, knowing that their main audience for the movies is usually the same that buys the game, and the experience a movie goer has with the game that follows it may well be a deciding factor in the success of your sequel. Not so back then. Even until way into the 90s, games after movies were a surefire way to simply KNOW that they would suck donkey balls. There simply were never any good games modeled after movies. They were usually quick cash grabs that relies only on the movie title to sell. Also, considering that game budgets were tiny compared to today, the setback for the name already meant that for the game itself you only had a few pennies left. Usually games-after-movies were some kind of generic nondescript ripoff of an old idea with the movie hero somehow pasted into it. Often just by name only ("and this here is Rambo. He is. No, really. He has a bandana, see? Yeah, that white pixel that follows his head... somewhat...")

    3) Rushed production. That game was rushed. Badly. The movie was out, the negotiations for the rights dragged on and the game needed to hit the shelves NOW or the hype about E.T. might lose steam before it's in. Nobody cares about a game for a movie of a year ago. And back then, movie and game were not being developed alongside each other, the game didn't even get designed until after the movie was halfway successful.

    4) The big console crunch. While E.T. is usually one of the things blamed for the collapse of the video game market in 83, I dare say that it was less the game and more Atari buying its own hype. It seems they honestly believed that not only would everyone who owns a 2600 buy E.T., they even went as far as assuming that they'd sell 2600 units like hotcakes and that everyone would want at least one E.T. unit.

    5) Complexity. When you play the game, you almost instantly get the impression that you're dealing with a very complex, very elaborate and very "rich" game. Soon after you notice that it has the depth of a wading pool, hiding behind an unnecessarily cryptic interface. After a while you simply can't shake the feeling that this game was supposed to be a LOT more but corners had to be cut. to the point where that square the game should be became a circle, so to speak. The gameplay hints at a lot more depth than there actually is, that the game's designer had a lot more planned for you, but time constraints and of course the limited ability of the console didn't let him deliver that promise.

    In the end, what you have is a "could have been" title. It shows a lot of promise, actually, it also promises a lot, but it simply cannot keep that promise in the end. If anything, E.T. is a load of broken promises.

    Of course, this leads to some heavy disappointment. When you expect a so-so game, E.T. would probably have delivered. When compared to other 2600 games, it's not really that bad a dud. It's a dud, no doubt

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

    by Opportunist (166417) on Saturday April 26, 2014 @10:04PM (#46850975)

    Star Wars Ep1 had a plot? Throughout the movie I was waiting for the pod racer game [wikipedia.org] ad to end and the movie to start.

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