E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial

Atari 2600 game, 1982

Genre:
Action
Year:
1982
Developer:
Atari Games
Publisher:
Atari Games
Perspective:
Isometric
Theme:
Puzzle elements

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E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial is widely remembered not for its innovative gameplay or engaging content, but rather for its role in the 1983 video game industry crash and as a symbol of rushed and poorly-conceived game design. Developed and published by Atari, Inc., the game was based on the hugely successful Steven Spielberg film of the same name. However, despite the movie's popularity, the game failed to capture the magic and appeal of its source material. …read more

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Game review

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial is widely remembered not for its innovative gameplay or engaging content, but rather for its role in the 1983 video game industry crash and as a symbol of rushed and poorly-conceived game design. Developed and published by Atari, Inc., the game was based on the hugely successful Steven Spielberg film of the same name. However, despite the movie's popularity, the game failed to capture the magic and appeal of its source material.

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial was developed in a notably short time frame, reportedly just five and a half weeks, as Atari rushed to release the game for the holiday season. This hurried development is evident in the game's final product, which was plagued by a host of issues.

The gameplay involves guiding E.T. through various screens to collect pieces of an interplanetary telephone that would allow him to call home. Players must avoid government agents and scientists looking to capture E.T., as well as navigate numerous pitfalls that trap the character. One of the game's most critical flaws is its frustrating pit mechanic, where E.T. falls into holes that are difficult to escape, leading to a repetitive and unenjoyable experience.

Upon its release, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial was met with negative reviews and consumer feedback. It was criticized for its confusing gameplay, poor graphics, and lack of alignment with the film's storyline. The game's commercial failure is often cited as a contributing factor to the video game industry crash of 1983 and led to millions of unsold copies reportedly being buried in a landfill in New Mexico, a story that has since become part of gaming folklore.

Today, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial for the Atari 2600 is frequently cited as one of the worst video games ever made. Its legacy serves as a cautionary tale about the dangers of rushed game development and the importance of aligning a game's design with its source material's spirit. 

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