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December 03, 2006


Pat K

My jaw hit the floor when I was reading this - I had almost the exact same experience as a kid. ET remains one of my favorite and most beloved Atari games from my childhood, and I had no idea until just a couple of years ago about its status as "worst game ever" and the incredible Atari story surrounding it. Imagine my surprise to find out that my cherished favorite childhood game is actually considered by the general populace to be literally the worst game ever. It's amazing that someone else out there - and we literally may be the only two - feels the same way about it. When I dusted off my old 2600 last year, ET was the first game I reached for. Play on, Listener Kliph.....


You've seen the video for When I Wake Up by Wintergreen, yes?


I loved this game from the first time I played it. One of these days when career and kids are but a memory, I'm going to buy an Atari (or two) off Ebay and play games with barely recognizable graphics until my fingers bleed. And ET will be near the top of the stack.


This guy makes portable hand-held ataris, among other things.


Trust me, you aren't the only one. It's hip to bash E.T. now, because hindsight is always 20/20, but I think it came out when I was eleven and I played it backward and forward until I could beat it every time. It wasn't the best adventure game ever made, but when you consider the limitations of the system and how quickly they had to churn it the time it wasn't as horrible as people now claim.

There were far worse games on the 2600, E.T. is just the most notorious because it was released during the time of the great console implosion, and people blamed it as part of that failure. It was just symbolic of the transitional period that the industry underwent, and as such, has suffered a stigma from that.


I was one of the many frustrated kids playing the E.T. game. I could never figure it out, but I kept playing it anyway, purely to show my devotion to the E.T. franchise. I'd say it's up there with Starmater (or Starfighter?) in terms of frustrating gameplay.


Zack, are you thinking of Star Raiders?

That was the game that required the keypad controller. It was pretty annoying, and yeah pretty frustrating. The more I think about it, I'd have to say that out of all the high profile 2600 games, Raiders Of The Lost Ark has to be the most confusing and obtuse one that I can think of. That game made no fucking sense whatsoever.


I loved the Raiders of the Lost Ark game for 2600. It's not exactly true that the game didn't make any sense. The problem is that a) the instruction booklet (intentionally) neglected to mention the existence of the map room, and if you didn't see the movie (or weren't clever enough to think that if the movie had a map room, the game must have one, too - and believe me, I wasn't clever enough when I first played it), it would seem like an incoherent game.


Yes! More Atari. I love this story, and yeah, I actually dug the ET game as well. It was kind of like Pitfall for little kids. There is one game I remember playing, the He Man and the Masters of the Universe game, that was just complete and utter boring nonsense. I remember getting that thing and just being so pissed off.



After some research, the game I'm thinking of was indeed Starmaster:

I could never quite get the logic of its gameplay.


The whole landfill part of the story was really not all that weird at the time - it was normal business practice. In order for Atari to write the carts off and take the business loss, they had to destroy them, and get something called a Certificate of Destruction for the auditors. Since those carts were basically worthless as scrap (no gold inside, very little copper), crushing and landfilling them was the easiest and best way to destroy them. Atari was not alone - almost all consumer electronics firms back then had a secret landfill (even envirofriendly Apple has the infamous landfill of Lisas). I once found one in Indiana that had zillions of old television circuit boards starting to pop up from below.

Banyon II

Oh my, I just moved near Alomogordo. It is a joke town in the area. I they should put a graphic commemorating this on the "Welcome to Alomogordo" sign. This has vastly increased my affection for this town.

There's also a town nearby named Truth or Consequences, after the TV show.

D'arcy's Carrot

Don't know if anyone has seen this on the topic of the landfill :

or in fact another piece of spin-off junk/genius :

Call Screener Jeff

"baron of quality"!?! Did you coin that phrase?

ET kind of sucked, but not as much as the movie. The main thing that I remember about it was getting lost looking for the phone pieces. It makes sense that the same guy created Raiders, which was much more complicated and dangerous seeming. Both of which put me in mind of the oh-so-disappointing Superman game.

Having said all that, Star Raiders rocked. The only problem with it was that you could never win the damn thing. There was no winning scenario, just different deaths. But it still rocked- I loved the keypad, it made me feel like Mr. Spock!


When I first encountered ET, I was 6 or 7, and I indeed remember thinking of it as the most not fun game I had ever played. It wasn't until college that someone asked me what the worst game I remembered was. He anticipated my answer - ET - and showed me the magazine article already in his hands on the whole sad story.

It was an amazing, hilarious feeling, to discover I wasn't at all unique, or mistaken, in my memories.


This post remainds me of legends about Genghis Khan's tomb.

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