The Atari ET Dump is True?

So I was many of the kids in the Christmas season of 1982 who got a copy of ET for my Atari 2600. Being 4 years old, I didn’t know any better, and I rather liked the game. Being a gamer geek I learned how to play it and work around the many bugs, and actually became pretty good at it. I used to be able to consistently beat it on easy, tho the harder settings just weren’t fun at all.

Still reading this article I kinda see why I liked the game so much:

It was one of the first home video games with a title screen.
It featured an open-ended world with gameplay focused on exploration.
It was completely non-violent. You can’t hurt the bad-guys, and they can’t hurt you. There isn’t even any competition!
You could complete the game. There are also several goals that you need to complete to win the game.
There were multiple ways to complete goals. You can actually finish the game without falling in a single well.
The game not only had an ending, it also featured an animated cut-scene as a reward.
The game featured optional additional goals to complete (side quests).

That’s all stuff I eat up with modern games. This is one reason why I love many sneaker games that look and feel like First Person Shooters, or fighting games like Theif or Hitman, or Deus Ex, but actually REWARD you for not playing like a shooter. In Hitman a perfect score is killing ONLY your target and nobody else, Thief and Deus Ex you can complete most of the game only having to kill a handful of hostiles. And of course I love sandboxes, tho ET was not terribly Immersive, but compared to the other games of the time, it was pretty cool.

Still buried in the lore of the game was that Atari buried a bunch of unsold cartridges and covered them with concrete. I always assumed this was an urban legend…turns out it’s true!

It looks like the legend might be true after all. Microsoft has uncovered intact copies of E.T. for the Atari 2600 at a New Mexico landfill, supporting claims that Atari buried legions of unsold cartridges in the desert after the movie-themed game proved to be a massive failure. With that said, it’s not yet clear that this is the treasure trove that Microsoft was hoping to find for its first Xbox-only documentary. The excavation team has only found a few E.T. units as of this writing, and they have company — there’s a shrink-wrapped copy of Centipede in the mix, for one thing. If the team does find many more examples of the extra-terrestrial flop, though, it could finally put a 32-year-old mystery to rest.

Heh, that is so cool!

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5 Responses to The Atari ET Dump is True?

  1. Motor-T says:

    Well, that comment ended up in the wrong place…

  2. Jennifer says:

    Love this. I still have my copy of this game and a console to play it on. Been following the story for a while. I’m really hoping that some of them still work.

  3. Wally says:

    I never realized that games could be lousy. Always thought I just never “got” the concept or the game. Sure did play many games back in the day – fewer today but nonzero. I remember playing ET, never making much progress with it. Tho I couldn’t part with the game – my 2600 cartridge is still here :)

    Reading what you wrote, however, rings true. It was really a revolution in how games could be made. Kudos to the developers ahead of their time.

  4. Archer says:

    I never personally owned an Atari, but a friend did and we spent many joyful hours playing.

    He even had the infamous E.T. game.

    I was a little kid when it came out, and didn’t find out it was considered a “flop” until decades later, but I don’t understand how/why it was. Like your first quoted passages indicates, it has many of the hallmarks of a successful game. I can only assume it amounts to personal taste; plenty of mega-hits really-and-truly suck in retrospect, and plenty of “flops” have withstood the test of time to become classics.

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