Feeds

back to article Film crew plans dig to find lost burial ground of Atari's E.T.

Did Atari really bury millions of unsold videogame cartridges in the New Mexico desert in 1983? A documentary film crew aims to find out. When the home videogames market went bust in 1982, the story goes, Atari was left saddled with millions of dollars in unsold Atari 2600 game consoles and cartridges. Legend has it that …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.

Page:

Paris Hilton

They should send Channel Four's Time Team to go dig it up. They would even get one of those beardie blokes to do a recreation of a genuine early 1980s living room complete with wood-grain Atari and black, red and grey wallpaper as was the fashion at the time! Meanwhile Tony Robinson will be down on his hands and knees scrubbing soil off of old ROM memory chips and talking to another beardie bloke about old things! ...as you do!

13
1

They would find the carts on day three, after two and a half days of Neolithic and Roman finds, and one anomalous Victorian coal cellar, despite being in the USA.

11
1
Silver badge

@Idocrase

That would prove that recent Americans were a trading people who imported lots of stuff - surely?

2
0
Silver badge
Thumb Up

Phil Harding excitedly brushing dirt off a long lost Atari game cartridge as he enthuses to Tony Robinson about the wonders he might find if only he could dig another dozen trenches sounds like ideal Sunday afternoon viewing.

Is there a kickstarter?

6
0
Bronze badge
Terminator

wallpaper

"...and black, red and grey wallpaper..."

What, exactly, is your problem with black, red and grey wallpaper?

Mine matches the curtains really well.

2
0
Silver badge

Re: @Idocrase

"That would prove that recent Americans were a trading people who imported lots of stuff - surely?"

In the case of the Roman findings, it would indicate either commerce through a time machine or an American predatory stance on Archaeology.

Either that or the documentary crew making stuff up. :0)

0
0
Silver badge

@Mephistro (was: Re: @Idocrase)

"American predatory stance on Archaeology"? You think us Yanks have a monopoly on that? Hell, we didn't even INVENT it!

Have you ever been to the British Museum? It's absolutely chock full of stolen bits of ancient kit.

3
0
Silver badge
Happy

Re: @Mephistro (was: @Idocrase)(@ jake)

Totally agreed, jake. But I'd say that plundering ancient artefacts from another continent and then dumping them in a landfill is even worse than the British method. :^)

3
0
Silver badge
Pint

Mea culpa. (was: Re: @Mephistro (was: @Idocrase)(@ jake))

Either I was reading to fast over a quick bite of lunch, or my parser was trying to grok the tractor's engine problem & not the post. Or both :-)

May I offer you a real ale in compensation?

1
0
Anonymous Coward

Re Time Team RIP and "Is there a kickstarter?"

That may or may not be a serious question.

But those who are actually interested in the idea might like to look up DigVentures ...

http://digventures.com/crowdfunding/

0
0
Silver badge
Pint

Re: Mea culpa. (was: @Mephistro (was: @Idocrase)(@ jake))

The next one is on me. :-)

0
0

Re: @Mephistro (was: @Idocrase)

When my dad was visiting me a few years ago, I took him to the Ashmolean in Oxford - I introduced it to him as the museum of plunder. I was mortified when he proceeded to tell his 90 year old aunt this, luckily she'd seen more of the world than I ever will (through a father in the army) and said it was a perfect description of the museum.

The British museum is much the same, but in their defence, they both do an excellent job preserving and displaying the plunder - it's free entry for the public and in some cases the originating countries are still so corrupt that most of the items would have been sold to private collections and never seen again (I'm not sure if Greece is included in that group!)

2
0
Anonymous Coward

Fixing ET..

There was a very interesting read posted back in February about how ET could have been a much better game with some very minor changes. Search for "Fixing ET" on Google.

Maybe they can dig them all up, reprogram them and sell them to today's Retro market

1
1
Thumb Up

Re: Fixing ET.. (It is fixed)

Yep, somebody posted some code to fix the game.

http://www.neocomputer.org/projects/et/

0
0
Silver badge

Next stop: Logan, Utah!

And do a special about excavating the Apple Lisas entombed at that landfill.... er, maybe not.

Like the man said, some things are best left buried.

4
0
Bronze badge
Trollface

Re: Next stop: Logan, Utah!

Yes. Was just trying to use an iBook from 2004. While still working and a nice bit of kit, it was just too old to actually do anything other than sit there with it's screen glowing saying "please, please don't turn me off..."

0
0

Re: Next stop: Logan, Utah!

One word: "TenFourFox ". Google/Bing/Blekko it. There's life in that old iBook.

Not to mention that, unlike newer Mac's you can plug a USB serial or parallel port into it and bang about with attached hardware, without finding the manufacturer's site to download a driver. And it is unlikely to "walk away" unless your neighborhood is filled with very un-tech-savvy yoof.

0
0
Silver badge

Parking lots are full of things!

I've heard of ICs (programmed ROMs) being ground up and used as asphalt filler. After all it is just a bit of refined sand and some Aluminum bonding wires. The plastic makes pretty good glue after being melted.

Yes, there are some things like this. I have heard of examples about Panasonic, Motorola, and Signetics just to name a few.

It seems that revenue people what the objects destroyed in order to claim a total loss. Either that, or they sell them off to surplus stores for pennies and claim the loss that way. Amazing what you can get a surplus stores these days. Some in "reasonable" shape, suitable for re-purposing at low cost!

0
0

Re: Parking lots are full of things!

My version was AC series transistors that failed QA.

I'm not sure whether that says 'yes it happened' or 'yup that makes it an urban legend'.

Either way I want to find out :)

0
0
Silver badge
Happy

Re: Parking lots are full of things!

Repurposing/reverse logistics is an entire industry to itself and it is a weird place. I worked at a brokerage that specialized in it, they had specialists for everything: Consumer tech, raw SMT & thru-hole components, metals, glass, car, plane and train parts, even building materials, everything. The warehouses were great fun to explore and pilfer in.

The point to this is that all that stuff ended up going to the oddest places and the most unexpected people. Sometimes the people that bought the stuff actually made money by adding it to bulk disposals of other materials as a way to reach volume discount price breaks; It was weird. It wouldn't surprise me if roads are full of IC's and a landfill somewhere is full of Atari gear.

0
0
Bronze badge
Windows

Re: Parking lots are full of things!

I forget which electronics company it was, but I remember being told back in the late 70's - during a school trip to the London Science Museum - that their UK headquarters carpark used tonnes of duff, encapsulated microchips as hardcore.

They were also giving away credit card sized souvenirs, each of which had a duff microchip embedded in clear plastic - It was fascinating peering at the things with a good magnifying glass, I really wish I still had mine - they might be worth something by now.

Old Timer reminiscing about Mark Sense cards over a can of real ale.

0
0

Re: Parking lots are full of things!

"can of real ale"

?????

5
0

Re: Parking lots are full of things!

Not to mention the amount of gold that's very likely in there ....

0
0
Silver badge
Happy

Re: Parking lots are full of things!

Parking lots may also contain missing English monarchs.

1
0
Silver badge

Yeah, but ... (was: Re: Parking lots are full of things!)

Tin of real ale?

0
0
Silver badge

Re: Parking lots are full of things!

AOL headquarters had a bunch of conference room table tops made from crushed up AOL installation discs.

0
0
Pint

Perhaps, like homebrew, the content of these games will mature with age and we will all be pleasantly surprised....

0
0
Bronze badge

Why dislike E.T.?

E.T. was in no way worse than many, many games of its time. Quite a few times I gathered the parts and went home. In fact, the animation of the ship leaving seemed quite unique for that time. People who claim E.T. is the worst game, never played E.T., but they do play follow the leader.

I wonder how this film crew believes there is some sentiment behind the game worthy enough of spending money on trash, literally spending money on trash.

1
3
Silver badge
Unhappy

Re: Why dislike E.T.?

What? You poor, poor person. I am honestly sorry you never had any better games than E.T. The best I can do is upvote you out of sympathy.

1
0

Re: Why dislike E.T.?

I own a rather large collection of Atari 2600 games, and I must disagree. All of my games are quite playable with the exception of E.T. The game should have been called "Spend time in a ditch" because the game mechanics are so bad, that you fall into a ditch, and then spend about two minutes getting out (if you are lucky), only to walk to the adjacent screen, and fall into another ditch the instant you enter the screen, and spend another two minutes trying to get out. And let's say you manage to avoid falling in a ditch for a screen or two, some NPC comes and locks you in jail, and the instant you get out, you fall into another ditch and can't get out easily yet again. The process repeats until you either give up, or time runs out.

It's an atrocious game, which was largely unplayable in my opinion. I have no issue playing any of my other games (~50).

7
0
Thumb Up

Spend time in a ditch

Sir, I did not soil my keyboard with coffee - I cleansed my tear ducts with laughter at your description of the game. Bravo. If I respected the Register less, I'd create another account and upvote you again.

1
0
Bronze badge

Re: Why dislike E.T.?

ALL OF YOU ARE A DISGRACE TO ALIENS !!

All of you really thought it was that bad when you were a kid, when it was a new title? Funnily enough the part about the ditches is true, but it was the only real learning curve to it, almost literally, because if you got caged, then you really sucked (In fact I thought when you got caged you lost the parts and had to regather???). I must admit, I haven't played it for about 30 years, but I remember as a kid I loved the "Hide & Seek" element of gathering the parts. The only other similar one I remember was Indiana Jones, where you had to fly the parachute past the tree into the cave, to only get past a snake or something....loved it!

While I'm surely alone here on this E.T. thing, I think some of you have to agree there wasn't many games for the 2600 that had Hide & Seek elements to it. Almost all of them were about timing and quick reflex. Think about all the large popular titles: Frogger, Bartender, TANK, Congo Bongo, Donkey Kong, Burger Time, Q-Bert, PAC-MAN....all of them were about timing and reflex. In fact, I can't think of 1 popular title from the 2600 that wasn't about timing or reflex, outside of E.T. that is, which obviously isn't a crowd favorite.

All in all, out of the 100 or so I had as a kid, I would of put E.T. in the top 40. Oddly enough, I can't remember the titles of any of the really shitty games, I barely remember images from most of the games. Strange to remember the amazement I had when I was kid over these games. Looking back I don't miss the graphics of any of them, but I sure do miss the difficulty of them. Games today seemed to be designed for you to beat in about a week, just so you have to go out and buy another one to make companies more money.

0
1
FAIL

Re: Why dislike E.T.?

I remember watching (in my far distant youth) a sales drone demo ET once. He tried desperately to look like he was enjoying the game but he wasn't fooling anyone.

0
0
Bronze badge

Re: Why dislike E.T.?

I admit my brother and I got quite a bit of entertainment out of E.T., though mostly through laughing at its dreadful mechanics and gameplay. We played it a Colecovision with the 2600 adapter - a bit of '80s video gaming history in itself.

We also had Indiana Jones, which as MBD mentions was similarly endowed with tricky, ill-conceived mechanics; and the Superman game that could be played two-player, with one person controlling Superman's horizontal movement and the other controlling his vertical movement. Strange that control scheme never caught on for other games...

I recall we managed to win Indiana Jones several times, but don't remember if we ever completed E.T. successfully. Probably not; the amusement value of the "levitate out of a pit" maneuver was limited.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Hey!

I quite liked Pacman on the 2600. That and The Empire Strikes Back were both great for a quick, casual game.

2
0

Re: Hey!

"I quite liked Pacman on the 2600. That and The Empire Strikes Back were both great for a quick, casual game."

The sound effects on 2600 pac man were good enough for the supercomputer targeting system in superman 3. It was a dreadful conversion though, flickery, malformed sprites and the aforementioned sfx that sounded nothing like the arcade version.

0
0
Silver badge

I'll tell you why it was bad.

The game starts, and you get to control ET. As with most 2600 games, a leaflet in the cartridge box tells you your objective: Collect three parts of a transmitter, call for rescue. Seems simple enough.

So you waddle ET over to the nearest pit. You may or may not find a part down that pit: It's entirely luck based. Either way, you have to use some very fiddly timing-based controls on what seems a rather arbitrary challenge (Extend ET's neck to a precise height) to escape the pit. This is our first problem: The game is luck based. There's no skill involved at all. You just try a pit, hope it has a part, repeat until you have all three.

It's about as satisfying to play as snakes-and-ladders.

It gets worse, though. The game comes with a sort of 'timer' - it actually ticks down only when ET is on the move, so is effectively a distance limit. That's how you lose. You can only check so many pits in the allowed distance. If you don't happen to pick the three with the parts in, you lose. And here comes the real pain that is ET. It's intensely frustrating, because it gives the illusion of success each time: You'll usually find the first part of the transmitter, and sometimes the second - making it seem like victory is close. One down, two to go! Yet the distance limit is so short, and the laws of probability against you: Even if you find the first two parts in the first two pits you check, it remains highly unlikely you'll grab the third before time runs out.

The game taunts you. It holds the prospect of victory just in front of your face, but pulls it away whenever you think you finally can grab for it. Potentially hours of frustration before, by pure luck, the random number generator rolls in your favor.

This psychological torment is only perfected by the addition of some poorly-designed touches. Of the two 'enemy' pieces moving, one of them confiscates your parts on contact, effectively forcing you to start over - yet with the time/distance limit already lowered, at that point there is no reason you might want to continue that attempt rather than restart the game and so get your timer reset too. A stealthy, implicit death.

If, by chance, you collect all three pieces then the game is not over. You must go to a certain screen, and press fire. There's no hint in the game of this, and at no other point is the fire button used - so you'd better have read that leaflet closely, or else your 'victory' will be cruely snatched away by the timer as you try to work out why you haven't yet won.

20
0
Silver badge

Re: I'll tell you why it was bad.

Never played it, but that was a super review

2
0
Happy

Re: I'll tell you why it was bad.

That's one of the best game reviews I've ever read. Bravo.

0
0
Bronze badge

Re: I'll tell you why it was bad.

WOW! The only way that would get worse is if EA bought the franchise.

4
0
Silver badge
Coat

Re: I'll tell you why it was bad.

So you get to control E.T.? I'd prefer to control the Bertie Bassett character in the lower left of that screenshot

1
0
Bronze badge
Thumb Up

Re: I'll tell you why it was bad.

Thats the best review for E.T. that I've ever read, and I've read a few given that its usually included in lists of the worst video games of all time. Superb.

0
0
Silver badge

Re: I'll tell you why it was bad.

So I shouldn't buy the ET cart that's currently listed on ebay for $6?

Damn.

0
0
Bronze badge

Document search first surely

While I understand that archaeology looks better on film, as this allegedly occured within fairly recent memory wouldn't it be better to start with a search for documentation and/or interviewing former employees or the firm that carried out the exercise.

Or has this already been tried?

0
0
Bronze badge

Re: interviewing former employees

Well apparently Joe Lewandowski says he was there when it happened ...

0
0
Bronze badge

Re: interviewing former employees

I must have skimmed over that part.

Bodes better than spitfire hunting in Burma.

0
0
Gold badge
Meh

Re: interviewing former employees

Bodes better than spitfire hunting in Burma.

Why? They too had people who were there when it happened and who could say with confidence exactly where the things were buried. Unfortunately, a hole dug in that spot didn't have any Spitfires in it.

There probably are some somewhere around there, the RAF has form for digging a hole and sticking unwanted stuff in it. I remember one bloke telling me that they were doing an audit of an RAF base and found a Norton motorcycle/sidecar combination, still in its crate, that didn't appear on the books. The solution adopted was to dig a hole, as that was rather simpler than sorting out the paperwork.

1
0
Bronze badge

Here's a playthrough

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mm05sIMeRK4

All-time worst? Maybe.

4
0
Meh

Re: Here's a playthrough

Ok, it not actually as bad as I thought I would be (if you can ignore the negative commentary). How much were A2600 games in those days? I'm guessing too much to justify this level of 8-bit bleepware.

I guess you have to remember the A2600 was no arcade board.

0
0
Silver badge
Holmes

Re: Here's a playthrough

These cartridges were fracking expensive. Especially if you were a kid on an 80's allowance.

0
0

Page:

This topic is closed for new posts.