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Microsoft will detail the saga in a Xbox-exclusive documentary

While the 1982 movie “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial” is a classic that is beloved by many (including 80’s kids); the movie also spawned a horrible Atari 2600 video game with the same title. The game was so bad that during the 1983 video game crash, it was reported that thousands of unsold “E.T.” game cartridges were buried in the New Mexico desert.
According to a 1983 New York Times article on the subject, Atari actually dumped 14 truckload of gaming gear into an Alamogordo, New Mexico landfill.
Fast forward to this weekend -- in an effort that was partially financed by Microsoft -- those cartridges (along with other relics of the period) were successfully uncovered. Microsoft's Larry "Major Nelson" Hryb was on hand at the site and captured a few pictures of the unearthed “E.T.” cartridges along with a few other period-correct titles like “Centipede.”

The history behind the events leading up to the 1983 burial along with the 2014 recovery will be retold in a documentary set to air this year produced by Xbox Entertainment Studios (the working title is “Atari: Game Over”). As you might have guessed, this will be an Xbox-exclusive affair once it is completed.

Sources: Xbox Wire [1], [2], Major Nelson

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By room200 on 4/27/2014 6:50:36 PM , Rating: 5
Some of you yungins' won't remember the video game crash of the 80's that came because of the greed of game manufacturers. ET and Pac Man on the Atari 2600 are often credited with single-handedly bringing on the crash of the entire video game industry. I remember actually going out to buy the ET game and could not believe how horrible it was (you have to remember there was not internet to tell you about how bad new releases were). Many cartidges were being pushed out and there was very little quality control. There were even cartridges that were released with HUGE glitches that could not be fixed that would never allow you to finish or play the game. That's why Nintendo was so revolutionary. They took a huge risk when everyone else said the console industry was dead. That's also why they had so much control over all titles that were released for their system.

RE: Well
By p05esto on 4/27/2014 7:03:00 PM , Rating: 1
Why are you lumping Pac Man in with ET? Pac Man was great of course.... not sure what you are talking about.

And I LIKED ET. I played it for weeks with my friend. It was kind of creepy, difficult and also addicting trying to figure out how to escape. Now as I look back I realize it was a stupid game, but I had fun. I actually want to buy a copy and play it for old times sake.

I was very unhappy about the video game crash. When the NEW hit I was in love, it was a magical time for me. Seeing Super Mario Brothers... wow, it was amazing. I played probably hundreds of hours, great times with my cousin and other friends, great memories.

RE: Well
By boobo on 4/28/2014 1:35:27 AM , Rating: 2
Because the 2600 Pac Man experience was light years behind the Arcade Pac Man.
Since the Arcade Pac Man was the single most popular game ever made, the amount of disappointment on the 2600 version was huge.

That said, I had lots of fun with the 2600 Pac Man.

RE: Well
By retrospooty on 4/28/2014 8:08:32 AM , Rating: 2
Yup. It was a real let down. Even the sound was badly done. The classic "waka waka waka" just became "dang dang dang"

RE: Well
By Mitch101 on 4/28/2014 4:23:13 PM , Rating: 3
I found out what this is all about. Microsoft is making 12 shows that are X-Box Exclusives. This dig is a part of a series called Signal to Noise. The most interesting is a Halo series done by Steven Speilberg.

RE: Well
By rs1 on 4/28/2014 8:12:28 AM , Rating: 1
Because the 2600 Pac Man experience was light years behind the Arcade Pac Man.

Yes, because expecting a console from the late 70's/early 80's to replicate the experience of a then-current arcade cabinet that sold for several times the price of an Atari 2600 and packed far more processing power is not the slightest bit unreasonable. Please.

But the real point is, Centipede was an excellent Atari game too. Why did those get dumped in the landfill?

RE: Well
By invidious on 4/28/2014 9:36:55 AM , Rating: 2
If the Atari 2600 couldn't replicate the arcade experience then the devs should have thought more carefully before porting the game to that platform. Customer expectations regardless of how unreasonable need to be managed by content creators.

RE: Well
By Riusaki on 4/28/2014 10:07:05 AM , Rating: 3

The game was written by one guy and he was forced to limit the game to 4KB cartridges even though Atari had 8KB carts available. They went the cheap route. Atari also wanted to capitalize on the holiday season so they released the latest build of the game which was still in the prototype phase.

Greed and incompetence is what killed this game and helped cause the crash.

RE: Well
By rs1 on 4/28/2014 10:11:49 AM , Rating: 1
If you live in fantasy land maybe. Pac-Man arcade cabinets retailed for $2400. An Atari 2600 went for $200 and had less than one third the processing power. Anyone who expected the Atari to replicate the experience of the cabinet was insane.

Although nevermind, perhaps it's more fun to live in fantasy-land with you. After all, I think my car should deliver the exact same experience of a Lamborghini, even though it only cost about one-tenth as much. Those car designers are responsible for managing my expectations, no matter how unreasonable they might be.

If they can't replicate the high-performance sports-car experience at a fraction of the price then the engineers should have thought more carefully before trying to build a car, no?

RE: Well
By Motoman on 4/28/2014 11:27:33 AM , Rating: 4
People don't buy a Ford Fiesta expecting it to replicate the experience of a Ferrari.

If people buy a game called Pac-Man, they expect it to be Pac-Man.

Your analogy is horrifically stupid.

RE: Well
By WLee40 on 4/28/2014 1:24:52 PM , Rating: 2
I'll second that. LOL. Come on, get a grip on reality!

RE: Well
By rs1 on 4/28/2014 7:51:36 PM , Rating: 2
People don't buy a Ford Fiesta expecting it to replicate the experience of a Ferrari.

People didn't buy an Atari 2600 expecting it to replicate the experience of a cabinet.

The analogy is entirely accurate. There's only so much you can do in software.

If people buy a game called Pac-Man, they expect it to be Pac-Man.

I any game that is not perfectly identical to the original arcade version of Pac-Man cannot be called "Pac-Man"? That's absurd. It's like saying that the only game that can be called "Tetris" is the original version that ran on the Soviet DVK-2 and any game that perfectly replicates its minimalist monochrome experience.

There have been many variants of both titles released over the years, all of them slightly different from each other. And most people understand that "Pac-Man" means a game where you have a yellow circle that consumes dots in a maze filled with ghosts. Just as "Tetris" means a game in which you arrange falling blocks to clear rows for points.

It's horrifically stupid to think that there can be only one version of a game, or that all versions must be perfectly identical on all platforms; especially when there is a substantial delta in terms of hardware capabilities and cost.

You can't make a Ford Fiesta perform like a Ferrari, and you can't make an Atari 2600 perform like an arcade cabinet. Why anyone would assert otherwise is beyond me.

RE: Well
By CalaverasGrande on 4/28/2014 4:57:04 PM , Rating: 2
that makes linear sense to people who understand computers in a 21st century way. But 30 years ago people had no idea what to expect from a computer vs a a game system vs an arcade game.
Personally I was pretty invested in Atari before the big shakeout. I coudl program the daylights out of the Atari 800 and it's variants. Too bad Atari never quite recovered from the shakeout. They fared better than some, but would never return to the top of the heap. Yall forget that Atari was the Apple of that era. Having Arcade games and consoles on lockdown and being one of the serious contenders in the early personal computer space.
If they had done things a bit different we may would all be on an Atari derived OS now. But unlike Apple's missteps, Atari's were unrecoverable.

RE: Well
By CZroe on 5/1/2014 9:05:58 AM , Rating: 2
Were you playing the 2600 version? The maze wasn't even remotely similar and the performance wasn't even up to what the Atari VCS/2600 was capable of. The maze was completely different and it couldn't even draw two ghosts on the screen at once (that's why they flashed). Putting the most anticipated arcade port ever on a cart half the size of what was available is simply greedy.

I don't think anyone was expecting a "turn your TV sideways" simulation mode, but for such a huge title to get such poor treatment was an insult.

RE: Well
By inperfectdarkness on 4/28/2014 5:08:32 AM , Rating: 2
And that's why I'm still a lifelong Nintendo fan. You can always count on Nintendo to breathe new life into the market.

I gotta ask
By inperfectdarkness on 4/28/2014 4:41:02 AM , Rating: 5
Atari's 1983 ET debacle came about due to Atari pushing shovelware at very high speed and consumers balking at it.

So I gotta ask:

Which landfills are EA and Activision's products buried in?

RE: I gotta ask
By Dorkyman on 4/28/2014 11:27:36 AM , Rating: 2
To heck with the games, I want to find out where Apple buried all the unsold Lisa computers. I worked at Apple and sold them; brilliant precursors to the Mac. They will be worth a fortune one day.

I remember....
By dsraa on 4/28/2014 11:21:46 AM , Rating: 2
I actually still have my 2600, and all the games that go with it. I originally only had maybe 15-20 games total. About 1993 or so, a local game store was going out of business, and was selling atari games cheap. AND I MEAN CHEAP! I bought ALL of them with my mother. From that I have about 60 or so cartridges from it. That was an awesome day. Still to this day I have all of them, along with the console, all boxed up.

new landfill
By momorere on 4/28/2014 3:03:09 PM , Rating: 2
If we could only CREATE a landfill only for Apple products. The world would be a much happier place

Wanna impress people ?
By royalcrown on 4/28/2014 10:47:00 PM , Rating: 2
..then plug that cartridge into an xbox 360 and see if it still works...if it does, I'll buy one, PLUS the XBOX at full price !

*yes, I know it won't fit ppl..., that's part of the impressive part*

destroy them all, keep 1 copy
By BillyBatson on 4/27/14, Rating: -1
RE: destroy them all, keep 1 copy
By Mitch101 on 4/27/2014 4:59:56 PM , Rating: 2
Maybe they are trying to say producing physical copy of something creates tons of waste that will still be around 30+ years later when you have kids and when those kids have kids and this was just a few games. Time to get onto the digital download bandwagon.

RE: destroy them all, keep 1 copy
By Brandon Hill on 4/27/2014 4:59:52 PM , Rating: 2
I never even heard about it until this weekend either, but since the documentary will only be available on the Xbox, at least it's geared at the proper audience.

MS just wanted dibs to have exclusive content.

RE: destroy them all, keep 1 copy
By BZDTemp on 4/27/2014 5:17:33 PM , Rating: 2
The ET game burial thing has been sort of a Legend since pretty much when it happened.

On audience I'm betting the Playsatation audience is a bit older an thus would be even better. I mean how many of todays kids even know of E.T. :-)

RE: destroy them all, keep 1 copy
By Brandon Hill on 4/27/2014 5:22:59 PM , Rating: 3
I mean how many of todays kids even know of E.T. :-)

This makes me sad. Even sadder than many kids these days have no idea what "The Goonies" is :(

RE: destroy them all, keep 1 copy
By Mitch101 on 4/27/2014 5:27:16 PM , Rating: 2
No need to worry they are making a sequel.

The Goonies 2 gets green light with Steven Spielberg on board

RE: destroy them all, keep 1 copy
By Brandon Hill on 4/27/2014 5:38:14 PM , Rating: 5
Hollywood has officially run out of new ideas

RE: destroy them all, keep 1 copy
By Mitch101 on 4/27/2014 6:31:55 PM , Rating: 2
Yes way too many movies are up for remake.

Scarface - Just don't touch this might as well remake The Godfather then.
Poltergeist - Yes GO DARK but not cheesy dark.
Jurassic Park/Island - Could be alternate Island story.
The Naked Gun - Cant replace Leslie Nielson here sorry.
Weird Science - I think a remake will be dumb whats better than Chet and the Bar?
Highlander - There is only one. They can pretend 3+ never happened.
Fletch - No need to do this.
Short Circuit - Don't care.
Gremlins - Hmm maybe if they go dark
Time Bandits - This has potential the first one was cheesy but interesting spin.
There was talk of Indiana Jones and Back to the future reboots.

About the only ones that might work are Poltergeist, Gremlins, and Time Bandits if they go dark and serious.

Im still disappointed they never made the Six Million Dollar man with Jim Carrey.

By inperfectdarkness on 4/28/2014 5:06:33 AM , Rating: 2
What about all the atrocities already committed?

Robocop: Dark and emotional--completely devoid of the humor of the original.

Sherlock Holmes: Sir A.C.Doyle did NOT write holmes as steampunk. Basil Rathbone was much better.

Three Musketeers: Who is still watching these? There have been more USA film productions of this in my lifetime than I can count on 1 hand.

Sad thing is, hollywood has original content to work from--it just doesn't care.

-Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator
-Restaruant at the end of the Universe (et. al)
-The Marvelous Land of Oz (et. al)
-The Horse and his Boy (et. al)
-My Robot Buddy (et. al)
-Wheel of Time (et. al)
-Cat's Cradle
-We The Living (English, since the original was Italian)

The list goes on and on. Thank god Atlas Shrugged is nearly complete (2 out of 3). It's so sad that Hollywood was vehemently opposed to a movie with strong conservative themes of self-reliance. It really speaks to the mindset.

RE: destroy them all, keep 1 copy
By jeepga on 4/27/2014 6:33:19 PM , Rating: 2
Um... The boat sailed on that years ago.

By BillyBatson on 4/27/2014 5:55:45 PM , Rating: 2
Most people still know The Goonies it plays on TV all the time which helps and I love the movie!!!! I saw ET the day it was released on VHS and I have never liked the movie and it doesn't hold up too well for today's audience.

RE: destroy them all, keep 1 copy
By hpglow on 4/28/2014 12:35:54 AM , Rating: 2
How could you not have heard of this? It was on national news when I was in jr high because teens were breaking in to get free carts so Atari paid the landfill to pour concrete over it. Plus there have been a couple filmmakers fighting with the city over securing rights to exume the games for about 5 years now. On top of that this whole topic is the basis for the Angry Video Game Nerd movie which was shot years agao (and remains in post production.)

RE: destroy them all, keep 1 copy
By Brandon Hill on 4/28/2014 7:37:03 AM , Rating: 2
I was born in 1980 :)

RE: destroy them all, keep 1 copy
By CU on 4/28/2014 9:30:05 AM , Rating: 3
No excuse :) I was born in 78 and my bother in 80. We played ET on our ColecoVision. We had the expansion module that allowed it to play Atari 2600 games. It was nice having a console that could play other console's games. Imagine Sony and MS doing that now, LOL. I think the console and games are still at our parents house somewhere.

RE: destroy them all, keep 1 copy
By Brandon Hill on 4/28/2014 10:32:40 AM , Rating: 2
Hey, my first gaming machine was an Atari 7800... I was a little late to the scene :)

RE: destroy them all, keep 1 copy
By ProZach on 4/28/2014 3:56:43 PM , Rating: 2
At least on that machine Pac-Man didn't look/sound like a $hit sandwich, but I never played one TBH.

By Reclaimer77 on 4/28/2014 4:14:30 PM , Rating: 2
I think Microsoft found this by accident while they were looking for somewhere to bury all those Zune MP3 players, Kin phones, and Surface 1's!



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