E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

published by Atari / CCE in 1982-12, developed by Atari, running on Atari 2600 VCS
type: action/reflex
perspective: side view bird's-eye
player options: single player

Personal review

If you ignore the expectation created by the success of the movie. If you consider this as an unfinished game (it is barely finished). If you read the instruction book in detail. If you compare this to Atari 2600 games from 1977. If you consider it is not a sequel of another game and did not spawn a mediocre or bad series of sequels. If you consider that any game based on a movie will have a very hard time being decent on Atari 2600 hardware and only four directions and 1 button. If you consider most movie games suck. If you consider all the other carp games that 1982-83 threw at us. IT STILL SUCKS! But, it doesn't suck quite as bad as it's reputation. There are worse games for the 2600. Learn to avoid some of the glitch-like aspects of the game, take all the advice previously listed in this article, and your left with not all that terrible of a game. So it doesn't deserve a ½ star.

I certainly do not dismiss Howard Scott Warshaw's achievement of realizing such a complex game on the 2600 in just 5 weeks. The game essentially has 6 levels, 20 hidden areas, 3 polychromatic characters (E.T. of the 4 characters of the game is monochromatic), 5 polychromatic items, a space craft, and an easter egg with an additional 3 polychromatic items. Much more of everything compared to the average 2600 game. Makes me wonder what the game could have been if he'd had 6 months instead. But, that didn't happen. The game was released as-is in 5 weeks. I think what speaks most about the quality of the game was the fact that no previous Atari game experienced customer returns in numbers Atari bother to note.

# 2014-08-31 19:41:39


One of the biggest commercial failures in the history of video games.

A botanist collecting plant samples from Earth is left behind when his ship must depart unexpectedly to avoid being captured by Earth scientists. He is called "E.T." by an Earth child who takes him in. E.T.'s uses a lot of energy to do most anything here on Earth. Gather 3 Reese's Pieces to restore E.T.'s energy. Collect 9 and call Elliot who will bring a piece of technology E.T. can use to make his communication device (to phone home). Unused Reese's Pieces result in bonus points when (if) E.T. departs Earth. There are 3 parts needed to make the phone home device which can also be found in wells (the pits). Earth scientists will try to capture E.T. and confine him for study. Earth's F.B.I. will try to confiscate E.T. communication device parts. The communication device will not work just anywhere. But, once activated in a suitable area, E.T. will have a limited amount of time to reach the landing site (in the forest) and rejoin his team in their space craft.

Dennis Debro created source code for the game through reverse engineering in 2006. In 2013 Neocomputer.org released a bug-fixed version and instructions on how owners can modify the ROM of the game to achieve the same result. Fixes include:
E.T.'s color is corrected.
Walk, Run, Hover, controls are not as difficult.
The edges of wells are more forgiving so falling in is not as easy.
Entering a screen over a well does not result in an instant fall.
E.T.'s Space craft can no longer crush Elliott (oops!)
The scoring now matches what the manual says.
The Easter Egg works more correctly
The Scientist-Only game variant is restored.
Feature addition: Switch to Color for fixes, switch to B&W for original version.

There is a persistent, widely know, widely believed rumor that, on the night of September 28-29, 1983, Atari (for tax purposes) smuggled millions of unsold ET cartridges to an undisclosed location in the desert near Roswell, New Mexico using a fleet of semi-trailer dumpers. Once their, the Extra Terrestrials, were crushed, encased in cement and buried. This is supposedly one of Atari's drastic actions taken as a result of the 1984 market crash. Its just too silly to believe, A big cooperation covering up aliens in a secret location near Roswell for financial gain. No doubt whatsoever it is a humorous fabrication. OR... Maybe that's exactly what Atari wanted the IRS to believe ;)
On September 29, 1983, the Alamogordo Daily News of Alamogordo, New Mexico began publishing a whole series of articles describing a fleet of trucks that came late in the night from an Atari distribution center in El Paso, Texas. Eye witnesses accounts vary but report the destruction and burial of cartridges, systems, and/or controllers. It gets better, turns out the area where the supposed burials took place is a landfill protected by high security! When questioned as to why anyone would encase garbage in cement then bury it, an employee of the landfill, who wished to remain anonymous, told the reporter that they didn't want any kids or scavengers to dig up the creatures they'd buried! The surrounding populations centers could have cared less about Atari's finances, and what exactly they'd buried in the desert. They resented the fact that some big out of state corperation was coming to their corner of the united states to dump as many as 20 loads of trash. Local commissioner Guy Gallaway stated, "We don't want to be an industrial waste dump for El Paso." Local manager Jack Keating officially bolcked Atari from doing anything like this again in their area. Locals passed two laws, the Emergency Management Act, and the Emergency Management Task Force, against outside interests. Mayor Henry Pacelli commented that, "We do not want to see something like this happen again."
So, maybe, maybe not.

EDIT: It's all true! An archaeological dig in cooperation with the city of Alamogordo uncovered bran new games under cement at the bottom of the old land fill. However, only 10% of the approximately 728,000 cartridges in the land fill were ET cartridges. Many different unsold and and returned games were found. 5 million ET carts were made, 1.5 million units were sold, but many were returned. 3.5 million were unsold. That means the ultimate fate of most of the world's ET carts are still unconfirmed. Oh, the carts were not initially buried under cement. This action was taken after some local children took some for themselves. But, after playing the game, they gave many away and put the rest back ("game sucked ... you couldn't finish it", reported one of them). It is notable, that these kids only found ET carts.
(Zerothis) - # 2006

Technical specs

display: raster

Authors / Staff

Howard Scott Warshaw
Jerome Domurat

External reviews (2) - average: 83%

review sourcecountryissuedatescore   
Tilt 1-38fr31983-015/683%
Tilt 1-38fr81983-115/683%

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