The Mystery of ET, Atari and a Cement Overcoat in New Mexico

Posted on Jun 7 2013 - 10:17am by Robert

If you can remember Christmas of 1982 then you can almost certainly remember the ET movie. However, do you remember the Atari 2600 game based on the film as well?

This was one of the most disastrous games releases in history and Atari are said to have lost millions on it. It was one of the first ever film tie in games but it got awful reviews and, to be fair, it was awful. But was it bad enough to be given a cement overcoat and buried without trace?

Find the Phone Parts

etThe ET video game was almost hilariously bad, as it tasked the hapless player with finding bits of phone in order to, you guessed it, “phone home”.  There were plenty of traps for the loveable alien with the big head but the game was pretty much impossible to play. No one knew what to do once they got started on trying to help their alien buddy make that annoyingly elusive phone call.

So why is a pathetic video game from 1982 in the news just now? Well, it seems as though an unknown quantity of copies of the game were buried in New Mexico and they are about to get dug up.

The city where the exciting discovery was made is called Alamogordo and a company called Fuel Entertainment wants to rescue the games for some unspecified reason. Legend has it that Atari buried millions of the ill fated games there in 1983 and then poured concrete over them. We will soon find out if this is true or not.

1 Comment so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Marty June 7, 2013 at 5:04 pm - Reply

    There is no mystery. We already cleared that up in our book "Atari Inc. – Business Is Fun" released last fall, going by direct interviews and actual internal documents.

    There were never thousands of ET games buried in Alamorgodo, that's a myth that sprung up later and was also never once mentioned by the actual press articles of the time. The dump there was simply a clearing out of Atari's Texas manufacturing plant as it transitioned to automated production methods and a focus on personal computer manufacturing. It had previously been one of the main plants for manufacturing of game cartridges and other hardware, and game manufacturing was being moved overseas to China.

    As part of the transition the unused cartridge stock of a group of titles (not just E.T.), console parts and computer parts were all dumped there in New Mexico. It was covered in detail by the Alamogordo press at the time, and is just such a non-mystery that I'm surprised by all this.

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