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Atari really did bury E.T. in New Mexico Desert
Hold onto your hats Urban Legend skeptics, because one long standing myth has just been proven completely and verifiably… true. Copies of 1982’s Atari 2600 atrocity E.T: The Extra-Terrestrial really were buried in the New Mexico desert, as exposed in an upcoming documentary.
Here it is up close – the very first ET cartridge exhumed after 30 years pic.twitter.com/nb8tv33w8F
— Larry Hryb (@majornelson) April 26, 2014
So why were these cartridges under ground and not in every boy and girl’s hands? Because it was irredeemably awful and a major flop. The game was made in just five and a half weeks with sights on a suitably cynical Christmas release, and it turns out that’s not a great deal of time to make a critically acclaimed tie in of a blockbuster film. Here’s some of that magical gameplay in all its glory:
Unsurprisingly for a game that’s core gameplay involves falling in and climbing out of holes (an area barely explored in the movie), the game bombed. Big time. Atari reported a $536,000,000 loss that year and they had a lot of unsold and returned cartridges to dispose of, having badly miscalculated the public’s appetite for hole climbing adventure. There were about 5,000,000 unsold copies of the game, only so many of which could be stuffed behind sofa cushions before people started to get suspicious.
Original rumors stated that the E.T. cartridges were ground down and covered with cement, but at least a few have survived that, if true. You can see the clip when the first cartridges saw the light of day again below:
Meanwhile Penn’s documentary is coming soon, and will be the first in a series of films for Xbox Entertainment Studios.