Atari 2600 Game
Produced by: Atari
Model Number: CX2674
Rarity: 1 common
Year of Release: 1982

This game was created in 5 weeks by programmer Howard Scott Warshaw and designer Jerome Domurat. This time table was obviously way too short because the game was a major flop. It was over produced due to the popularity of the movie ET at the time, which gives insight to its worthlessness today.

Atari lost $21 million just in licensing fees. It managed to sell over a million copies but several more million were destroyed or dumped on the market for next to nothing. This game is often attributed to starting the market down turn which led to the video game crash of 1984.

The graphics were mediocre and the sound left something to be desired, in fact the best thing that this game had going for it was its storyline. (tongue in cheek)

Game story found in the manual:


What kind of crazy planet is this, anyway? We came here to conduct a simple study of primitive planets, and look what happened! These...things...came and scared away my friends. Before I knew it, all my friends boarded our lightship and flew home.

What do I do now? The only one I can trust is that nice little alien-- Ellleeott. He gives me those tasty energy pills (What did he call them? Reeessseess Peeesssesss?) But these other aliens! Every time I get ready to assemble my transgalactic communicator, they come and take me away. The one with the white coat sticks that temperature measuring device in my mouth (I wonder why he was so upset when it melted?), and the other one in the trench coat keeps muttering those strange sounds (Naaashaaannaall Seeeccuuuureeetteee?) I just want to go home! I hope Elllleeott and I can assemble all the pieces of my communicator before my energy runs out.

Oh, oh. Here come those crazy aliens again. Help me, Elllleeott! Help me get home!

Description of game play found in the manual:

Your mission is to help E.T. find the three pieces of his interplanetary telephone, call his ship, and guide him to the landing pad in time to be rescued. Do this before E.T.'s energy runs out, and you'll win the round and score points! E.T. transverses six sites on Planet Earth. Four of these are full of pitfalls--they are dotted with deep wells (Figure 1) into which E.T. can fall (Figure 2). A fifth site (Figure 3) shows Elliott's house, the Institute of Science, and the FBI building. Here, E.T. is taken by the scientist to be studied. The sixth site (Figure 4) is a forest setting where E.T. first lands and where the ship will land to pick him up.

A round ends when E.T. boards the spaceship. At the end of each round, all your bonus points are displayed. If you want to play another round, simply press the controller button. E.T.'s telephone pieces and the Candy will be redistributed for him to find again. You can play as many rounds as you like, since your bonus points will accumulate.

A game ends when E.T. runs out of energy or when you decide to quit playing.

On each site E.T. moves through various power zones. While in a power zone, E.T. can execute only one of his extraordinary powers. For example, if E.T. is ready to call his spaceship, he must be in a "call ship" zone. As E.T. stands in a power zone, the symbol for that zone appears at the top center of the screen (Figure 4). At the beginning of each new round, the power zones are redistributed on each site.

This game is valued at around $1 USD. Game with box and manual may be worth more.

Hello, and let me tell you a very educational story after I've done a quick dpkg --purge stella...

"Next on The X-Files: Has the government buried E.T. in the desert? And if the game is found, it's even bigger mystery on what you're supposed to do in it..." (In Pelit)

E.T. was a pretty good movie - I honestly don't remember the first time I saw even bits of it, but I really liked it when I saw it again when I was older.

However, the movie has a strange curse on it: Anything related to it that's made later on tends to be inferior in quality. For example, when I was a kid I had a plastic E.T. doll. Its head fell off one day. Which was, of course, only positive because that way I could really do that "stretching neck" thing.

Back in the day, Atari expensively enough got the rights to make an E.T. game for the 2600 VCS. Now, modern audiences may very well be aware that most "movie license games" tend to be pretty awful - there have been exceptions though (like, I've heard, Goldeneye). Imagine having a great game license that's sure to make some money. Pick up your old, somewhat antiquated but decent enough and well-spread console for this job. Give your crack code-makers only a few moments of time to save the company from an imminent doom.

And this way, of course, lies madness.

With the motivational whipping from Warner Communications (Atari's owner at the time, to everyone's great despair), the game makers came up with a came in a record time. Six weeks to make a certain hit. Right.

Atari thought their game geniuses had made a real hit game, of course. They produced a lot of cartridges. A lot. Over 5 million cartridges. (Never mind there was not even that many consoles out...)

And most of them were never sold.

The distributors returned most of E.T. cartridges to Atari, and did the same for the crappyish, likewise poorly selling home conversion of Pacman. Atari decided to crush, cement and bury most of the unsold cartridges and build warehouses on top of them.

And it's easy to see why the game was pretty bad. You can get the ROM (with the risk of being called an Evil Pirate® by NOA) and test the game with an emulator (Stella works fine, xmess unsurprisingly doesn't...) Boredom is guaranteed within a couple of minutes. As a vaguely E.T.-like (but not quite recognizable) character, you're supposed to run around the playing area that consists of about trillion pits. You may, if you're lucky, find some flowers there and exercise some mad alien botanical skillz. Or, if you're *really* lucky, you may find parts of your ansible-telephone-thingy there! And once you're in the pit, hit the fire button and float really slowly to the top of the pit. But be careful of all those nasty humans who try to catch you!


20 years later...

In 2002, Spielberg and the gang released a new version of E.T. with extra scenes (E.T.: The 20th Anniversary or something like that).

The game industry has a lot of young people who had their first touches to gaming a lot later. Not many of their managers know or can remember or say instantly what a 6502 is. The coders may be a bit wiser than that, but they don't get to make decisions on what games are being produced.

So, these managers say, "Hey, let's make a movie license game!" And they successfully get a license to make games for a couple of platform - Playstation, Gameboy Color and Game Boy Advance, at very least.

While I haven't played any version of that game, I could almost safely assume that was MPAA's futile attempt to bring down the very foundation that holds togheter the game industry that has become too fearsome for them to handle.

2600 game information

Apparently programmed by Howard Scott Warshaw, graphics by Jerome Domurat. Model number CX2674. Rarity: Common.


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