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Atari’s Horrible ‘E.T.’ Game Excavated From Landfill in New Mexico

Atari’s Horrible ‘E.T.’ Game Excavated From Landfill in New Mexico

There’s a slew of terrible-ass video games out there. Some of them deserve to get revamped, while others, like that shitty “Fight Club” game for the PlayStation 2, are best forgotten.

One game has remained a major myth for the last three decades, residing in a landfill somewhere in New Mexico, hiding its awful face from the public eye since 1983. That game is “E.T.” for the Atari 2600. Now, after 31 long years of hiding, the game has finally been dug up.

Back in 1982, Atari created a licensed video game for Steven Spielberg’s beloved hit movie, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. The game was to be released in Christmas season of 1982, aiming to capitalize off the hype of the film being released earlier that year, hoping to invade every American home that Christmas. Instead, the game ended up being totally rushed to meet the season’s deadline, and was released in December as one of the worst video games of all time, and an ultimate commercial failure from Atari.

The failure was so bad, in fact, it helped aid in the 1983 video game industry crash that almost ruined the company altogether, in addition to there being way too many game consoles and shitty games out at the time. Atari didn’t know what to do with the abundance of “E.T.” games that weren’t selling. So instead of leaving them on store shelves to collect dust forever, the company decided to gather all unsold copies of the game and bury them in an undisclosed location in New Mexico in 1983, a year after the game was made. Atari ended up losing $310.5 million in their second quarter from the failure that was “E.T.”

A worker shows the media the first recovered "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial" cartridge at the old Alamogordo landfill in Alamogordo

This year, a group of 200 New Mexico residents and game enthusiasts were led by filmmaker Zak Penn in an exhibition to find said buried games. The group dug beneath concrete using bulldozers and backhoes to sift through dirt in search of complete shit, and sure enough, Saturday evening in the southeastern New Mexican desert territory, the group found a mountain of trash and “E.T.” game cartridges. The hundreds of cartridges were reported found last night.

The city of Alamogordo, where the landfill is located, agreed to give the everyone up to 250 cartridges of the unearthed game, with plans to sell the rest. No one at Atari has any idea why the games were buried in the first place. Some folks speculate that it was something that the company just didn’t want to remember. Regardless of how awful the game may have been, it’s pretty evident just how legendary the horrible game has become.

If you want to waste five minutes of your life and see how bad the game really is, check out the video player up top for some gameplay footage.

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