E.T. The Video Game

Atari ET game box art
Atari ET game box art

There are far too many stories and reviews on this game to rehash, but simply put, E.T. was one of the worst games in gaming history. The game was released in December of 1982 and was highly anticipated after the success of the film, but due in part to an only six week development cycle the game was extremely unpolished, buggy and downright boring.

Now what a lot of people don’t know is that E.T. sold over 1.5 million copies and was a commercial success, at first. The problem was over 3.5 million copies were not sold and many of the copies that were sold were returned. When you add in the cost to get the rights to make the game the end result was a total financial failure. In fact many site E.T.’s failure as the event that led to the gaming crisis of 83 and the end of days for Atari.

The game consisted of you controlling E.T. in his search for three interstellar phone pieces; you had to search various screens to find them. On each screen were various pits you had to navigate into to find the phone pieces and then levitate out of. You had a health bar that would decrease as time went by and you could replenish your health by eating Reese’s Pieces left scattered across the world. If you collected enough candy Elliot would come and give you one of the phone pieces. Once you had all the phone pieces you needed to go to the spaceship call area and call your ship. The ship would land somewhere on the world and you had a time limit to find it. Once you got to the ship it would take off and the game would restart.

Atari ET game screenshot
Atari ET game screenshot

Sounds riveting does it, let me see if I have this right. So E.T.’s Metro PC phone broke when his interstellar date kicked him out of her car. E.T. landed in the pothole capital of the world and had to go ditch diving to get his phone pieces back. Somehow his life force is being drained so he needs to eat discarded candy to replenish. If he eats a lot of candy he goes into some kind of alien diabetic shock and a kid hands him a piece of the phone. Once he has his phone back together he has to find high ground because his super phone only works if within three feet of a cell tower. E.T. calls his dad who totally owns a dealership to come pick him up. However, it is his older brother B.E.T. who comes to get him and parks the ship on the other side of town making E.T. run over to him. Yeah, I don’t see why this game wasn’t a winner.

If there is one thing E.T. did help it was the people of New Mexico where their Mount Craptastic was created with the help of over 3.5 million unsold or returned copies of E.T. It is the second largest mountain of crap in the world with the largest being Mount Why-the-hell-do-you-keep-sending-me-theses created by the fine folks over at AOL.

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J.A. Laraque

J.A. Laraque is a freelance writer and novelist. His passion for writing mixed with a comedic style and intelligent commentary has brought him success in his various endeavors. Whatever the subject, J.A. has an opinion on it and will present it in writing with an insight and flair that is both refreshing and informative.

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