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.


http://www.atariage.com/software_page.html?SoftwareLabelID=157 http://www.snopes2.com/business/market/atari.htm http://www.seanbaby.com/nes/egm01.htm