Spoiler: It sucked so very, very hard that James Dyson would slap a patent on its ass in an instant. We’re talking heavy-duty suction power indeed, right here.
Now, we can’t say just what happened on that bizarre, conspiracy theory-y night in 1947. Even if we could, we couldn’t (if you follow). We don’t want shady government types putting our gonads in a vice. Again. Still, whether you believe the mundane ‘weather balloon’ explanations, or you’re convinced that a couple of suit-wearing dudes were cruising around New Mexico wiping eyewitness memories left and right (with that little doohickey from Men in Black, naturally), something was up. Whatever it was kindled a shitstorm of extraterrestrial interest that continues today.
As we know, the most famous alien of all is E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. You may have seen him in… E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. This shriveled little gray bastard won our hearts with his endearing midget-ness, his friendship with Elliot and his magical, rather creeptacular fluorescent finger that glows like a bitch for no reason at all. Nevertheless, no amount of cuteness and/or empathy can possibly excuse the woeful video game of the same name, which was –presumably– forged by Satan himself in the fires of Mount Doom in 1982.
This ghastly little slice of shit was released for the Atari 2600, and was a transparent attempt to make several shitloads of unscrupulous cash off the back of the movie’s popularity. (“Come oooon,” whined the developer, “the front of the box has a picture of the alien and the damn kid. Its title is even exactly the same! What do you ‘effers want, blood?”). These kinds of shenanigans are nothing new in video games, but to be particularly notorious among licensed game-of-the-film ballaches is quite a feat. Let’s take a look.
Your objective in the game is to collect the pieces of a future-tastic telephone, which will enable E.T. to –wait for it!– phone home. To achieve this, you’ll fall down holes, painstakingly shuffle back out over the course of far too damn long like a rollerskating spider on a greased surface, and proceed to fall into another hole. In between, you’ll gather Reese’s Pieces, in a nod to the movie’s absurd peanut-butter-flavored product placement (we say a ‘nod,’ it’s more of a swift middle finger). Alas, though, with the piss-poor graphical capacity of these ancient consoles, the chocolate treats resemble little turds.
As, on the whole, does the game itself. It was modestly successful –among the biggest sellers on the console; not that many shits were ever given about the Atari 2600– but just so uninspired for such a big name. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial’s legacy is as ‘a video game so bad it’s credited with nearly taking down the entire industry,’ (-krqe) with millions of unsold units allegedly dumped in landfill sites (‘Legend has it Atari needed to dump the extra merchandise and extra consoles as the industry crashed in 1983. So they made a deal to dump at least nine semi trucks full of that merchandise from its El Paso plant in an Alamogordo landfill in late September 1983. The games were crushed and buried under concrete,’ the report continues).
Header image: davetieche.