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Thousands of Atari ET Games Found Buried
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Posted:  27 Apr 2014 00:37   Last Edited By: Tim
I just ran into this article at yahoo. It's kind of neat, a little footnote in history has resurfaced. The Atari 2600 game ET based on the successful movie ET the Extraterrestrial from the early 1980's, ruined the video game industry for several years and was deemed the worst game ever. Apparently, it was so bad and Atari had gotten so many returns they had no other option, but to bury thousands and thousands, perhaps millions of the game under ground never to be found again until today.

According to this yahoo article a documentary film production company has found buried in a New Mexico landfill hundreds of the Atari "E.T." game cartridges.

Film director Zak Penn showed one "E.T." cartridge retrieved from the site and said that hundreds more were found in the mounds of trash and dirt scooped by a backhoe.

This is the part I thought was really cool.

Most of the crowd left the landfill before the discovery, turned away by strong winds that kicked up massive clouds of dust mingled with garbage. By the time the games were found, only a few dozen people remained. Some were playing the infamous game in a make-shift gaming den with a T.V. and an 1980's game console in the back of a van, while others took selfies beside a life-size E.T. doll inside a Delorean car like the one that was turned into a time machine in the "Back to the Future" movies.

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The article says that dozens of crushed cartridges were still actually playable and were taken home by some of the people there.

The article also says that Atari doesn't really know the why as to the reason these games were buried, but since it did say that the company was hit with huge amounts of returned games back in the 80's then one has to assume that they just had no other place to put them.


A New York Times article from Sept. 28, 1983, says 14 truckloads of discarded game cartridges and computer equipment were dumped on the site.

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.

Wow, it's like a Indiana Jones adventure. The 80's has resurfaced in the form of an old Atari game nobody wanted to play. If they would have left the game there just think how amazed some future civilization might have been at their discovery.

But for now if you would like to own a piece of history old copies the game are available at Amazon.

Posted:  27 Apr 2014 00:59
Comicbookmovie.com posted an article about this same story.

In 1982, Steven Spielberg struck gold with science-fiction film, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, which starred Henry Thomas, Dee Wallace, and Drew Barrymore. That same year, American video game company, Atari, Inc., began developing a video game based on the film. Seemed like an easy slam dunk, but the company paid a whopping $21 million for the rights and then rushed its development (five and a half weeks) so that it would be ready for Christmas time. Just to breakeven on the rights the company had to sell 4 million copies. 5 million copies were produced and only 1.5 million were sold. Most of those 1.5 million copies that were sold, ended up being returned to the company because the quality of the game was THAT horrendous. To this day, many people contribute the game as major reason for the North American video game crash of 1983 and the demise of Atari in the gaming sector.

So, what happened to all those millions of unsold cartridges? As legend has it, in September of 1983 the company supposedly dumped 14 truckloads of discarded game cartridges into a New Mexico landfill. And now, over thirty years later, screenwriter, Zak Penn ("The Incredible Hulk") has led the search for the burial site and over the past two days has unearthed the legend.

E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (Atari 2600) Walkthrough

Posted:  28 Apr 2014 01:37
Funny thing is my cousin had this game for his Atari. I actually played it. I guess his is one of the few that wasn't returned to the store , anyway the only thing I remember about the game is falling into the holes and dying. So I have to agree that it must have been a major flaw of the game like the article said.

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