From Urban Legend To Reality - Atari's E.T. The Video Game Unearthed From Landfill

From Urban Legend To Reality - Atari's E.T. The Video Game Unearthed From Landfill

The Avengers and X-Men: The Last Stand screenwriter, Zak Penn, is producing a documentary about the worst video game of all time, Atari's 1983 game, E.T. The Extraterrestrial. Unsold cartridges were buried and now they have been excavated.

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.

A documentary film production company has found buried in a New Mexico landfill hundreds of the Atari "E.T." game cartridges that some call the worst video game ever made. 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. About 200 residents and game enthusiasts gathered early Saturday in southeastern New Mexico to watch backhoes and bulldozers dig through the concrete-covered landfill in search of up to a million discarded copies of "E.T. The Extraterrestrial" that the game's maker wanted to hide forever. "I feel pretty relieved and psyched that they actually got to see something," said Penn as members of the production team sifted through the mounds of trash, pulling out boxes, games and other Atari products.
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Filed Under "Sci-Fi" 4/26/2014 Source:
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batz11 - 4/26/2014, 1:59 PM
Those were the days...
jimoakley666 - 4/26/2014, 2:02 PM
Friggin' good nick after 30 years. Fair dues.
batz11 - 4/26/2014, 2:02 PM
I lived it MrBJ...
MrBatmor - 4/26/2014, 2:07 PM
This game might be the reason no extra terestial beings are gonna contact earth...
kevberg - 4/26/2014, 2:11 PM
Eddie Torres...the extra testicle
Mercwitham0uth - 4/26/2014, 2:18 PM
Too late. Film about E.T. game is already in the works.

SuperCat - 4/26/2014, 2:19 PM
JoshWilding - 4/26/2014, 2:29 PM
The writer of Elektra, Fantastic Four and X-Men: The Last Stand working in a landfill? Sounds about right.
AlexanderLykins - 4/26/2014, 2:41 PM
MisterHolmes - 4/26/2014, 2:44 PM
@Merc hell ya. Love the Nerd
BoomTubeB - 4/26/2014, 2:51 PM
jimdotbeep - 4/26/2014, 2:51 PM
[frick]!! could they really not have waited until after the release of the AVGN movie?!
LeeroyJenkins - 4/26/2014, 2:52 PM
they did the world a favor by burying those games
BoomTubeB - 4/26/2014, 2:57 PM
nick cage starring in the remake !
batcheeks8 - 4/26/2014, 2:58 PM
That video..... Burying didn't suffice. They should've burned them all.
Humperdink - 4/26/2014, 2:59 PM
Dig a little deeper and you may find the ATARI senior management team in charge of producing the game.
spidey1994 - 4/26/2014, 3:00 PM
Merc, I was about to say the same thing lol
BoomTubeB - 4/26/2014, 3:01 PM
& in new Star Wars
BigChuter - 4/26/2014, 3:07 PM
I wish Zak Penn's name wasn't in the credits for Avengers. Every time I watch it that bothers me a bit. I don't hate the guy or his work categorically (I liked X3), but he did nothing on Avengers except attempt to write it. Oh well. Age of Ultron will be credited solely to Joss, and I will be able to watch the credits to that movie without even the slightest dissatisfaction.
m0th3r - 4/26/2014, 3:12 PM
Beat it...was horrible..
FerFogs - 4/26/2014, 3:14 PM
I remember playing and finishing it as a kid. Didn't seem so bad back then.
AsianVersionOfET - 4/26/2014, 3:26 PM
Rejoice! For the day has come that my avatar has meaning!
NovaCorpsFan - 4/26/2014, 3:34 PM
I don't think I can ever say a game is bad ever again after watching that...
dezdigi - 4/26/2014, 3:35 PM
It wasn't much worse than a lot of the other games! Maybe this is where the movie/game tie-in curse began.
TheBeard - 4/26/2014, 3:38 PM
i have 2 atari systems still work just fine, but i've had 2 ps3's and 2-360's break on me
mctrinket - 4/26/2014, 3:43 PM
I had the game. Played it and beat it back in the day. Was not terrible.
MexicanSexyman - 4/26/2014, 3:43 PM
This game was before my time but I wish they would have left it in the ground to keep the sence of mystery with it.
TheRealRemyLebeau - 4/26/2014, 4:18 PM
I played Atari and it was before my time as well.

Systems I Played.

Apple Computer
Super Nintendo
Sega Genesis
Sega Genesis CD (32 bit if not mistaken)
Nintendo 64
Sega Saturn
Sega Dreamcast

All before 2000 (Good old fun days). New stuff is better of course.
Skintastic - 4/26/2014, 4:44 PM
Remy, right there with you on a lot of those

Atari 2600
Atari 5200
Sega Genesis (and sega cd plug in)
Atari Jaguar (and Jaguar Cd plug in)
Sega Saturn
Sega Dreamcast
Playstation 1

Then I got the best game system ever, Rachel
Skintastic - 4/26/2014, 4:48 PM
And your right, the new system much better than those old ones, it has features I never even knew about back then, very ergonomic, just the right number of buttons too
NeoBaggins - 4/26/2014, 4:49 PM
Ah memories. Use to play this all the time. It was the Raiders of the lost Ark game that drove me crazy. Didn't know what the hell to do in this one room.
case - 4/26/2014, 5:03 PM
That's horrendous.
Comedian03 - 4/26/2014, 5:53 PM
All the Zak Penn hate, I love how no one mentions his screenplay work on THE AVENGERS.

Yeah man, friggin Zak Penn blows ass, he [frick]in sucks! Hate on Zak Penn!! Wooo!!!"

Next article.
"zomg The Avengers is [frick]ing amazing, best most perfect movie of all time!!!"

JredTheRed - 4/26/2014, 6:18 PM
he helped develope the story for Avengers but the final draft was not his. whoever said he wrote FF is wrong too. He did not. He did however write Elektra and X3, but also The Incredible Hulk which was good and helped with X2 and Last Action Hero.
CaptShipwreck - 4/26/2014, 7:24 PM
I finished the game , the other ets come and pick you up then you start over
CyberBishop - 4/26/2014, 8:14 PM
I got this game for Christmas the year it came out.. Thought it was a shit game back then and still do.
Joe6Pack74 - 4/26/2014, 8:15 PM
I remember playing that on a Atari console in the 80's.
Batmanofsteel - 4/26/2014, 8:17 PM
I guarantee you we will see these on ebay.
MightyZeus - 4/26/2014, 9:11 PM
I'd be interested to watch a Documentary on this but i am someone who loves documentaries in general. I dont understand the Zack Penn hate. I can not believe they've found E.T. cartridges in a landfill, i thought it was just a rumor.
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