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Video: The Trailer For E.T. Documentary Atari: Game Over Emerges From Landfill

Posted by Damien McFerran

Hyperbole ahoy!

Not so long ago, we reported on the news that film director Zak Penn had successfully unearthed the now-legendary Atari 2600 E.T. cartridges which were buried in the New Mexico desert back in the '80s.

Penn has produced a documentary regarding the game, its development, how it sank the games industry and its subsequent rediscovery, and you can watch the trailer below. The film is one of the few projects to survive the closure of Xbox Entertainment Studios, and will be shown first on Xbox 360, Xbox One and later this year.

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Image credit: Polygon.


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User Comments (31)



OneeUpp said:

I think the movie called Video Games the movie, gives such an amazing detailed piece to Atari like their rise, fall and comeback.. As well as other companies during that time. Even though, the comparison to Nintendo being the modern day Atari is a bit amusing.. Lol. Still a really good movie



Jimmy_G_Buckets said:

I played E.T. back then. I never once knew what the heck was going on. It was seriously the worst game that I have ever played. The documentary looks good though.



TheRealThanos said:

E.T. the Game did NOT single-handedly cause the crash of the games industry, that BS needs to go, it was more like a visualization of the symptom. There where many more reasons why the crash happened. .
@OneeUpp The comparison didn't surprise me one bit. So, apparently Nintendo has downgraded from being the Sega Dreamcast to being Atari...



GloverMist said:

Man, this all reminds me of how much I need to play some old, bad games! No, in all seriousness, this does look very interesting!



OneeUpp said:

@TheRealThanos Exactly. The comparison was hilarious, but to me I don't see it. I've always chosen Nintendo over any other, there's a uniqueness to Nintendo brand that sets them apart from Sony and Microsoft. It keeps you coming back... I own all 3 console brands and still find myself leaning toward Nintendo. You should really watch the movie if you get a chance, it's pretty good yet the Nintendo jokes are amusing. Pretty much making them at the bottom and apparently super outdated according to the developers and people speaking LOL. Atari's demise wasn't solely based on ET at all, but apparently that's what this guy thinks. I mean, maybe the ET ended up overflowing in landfills LOL but that's just part of the reason.. Aside from them preferring quantity over quality and creating the same type of games year after year, when technology wasn't as advanced as now you can't blame the consumer from becoming easily bored..



TheRealThanos said:

@OneeUpp You say amusing, I read/hear tiresome. And the thing about the blame for the crash is that opening the landfill has (at least partially) proven that it wasn't just E.T. because a lot more Atari games and hardware were buried with the E.T. cartridges. I'm interested to know what you think is the saving grace of this video, besides all the BS being spouted. I'll probably watch it anyway though, since the Atari 2600 is one of the systems that started my gaming life, so I still want to know what new info or insights (if any) can be had from this.



A1234 said:

Atari Game Over? really? awful title. if it was not for Atari we would not be here right now. E.T. is really good. it is just as good as Raiders of the Lost Ark. there are far worse games on the Atari than E.T. Space Cavern anyone? I love that they found all different Atari games there besides E.T. why don't people talk about those games? I always thought it was only E.T. carts there because that is all that people were talking about. so, not true. there were many other games besides E.T.



KodyDawg said:

I am ashamed to say that my Mom actually owns a copy of the game. She bought it a few years ago for $.50, the only reasons being that she loves E.T. and my littlest brother is named after one of the characters from the movie. I even tried telling her how they buried all those copies (the person at the desk was also joining in on the conversation), but she just couldn't pass up the opportunity, I guess. The weirdest part is we don't even OWN and Atari system...



mike_intv said:

Any word on where this can be viewed after Microsoft's exclusive period — since most of us who had Ataris do NOT have Xboxes.



ACK said:

So... We dug around in a landfill, got dirty, found some games that aren't worth playing... Wanna watch our movie?




ReigningSemtex said:

@mike_intv blatantly someone will rip it and upload it, or it will be made available elsewhere.

Looking forward to watching the documentary been looking for more information since it 1st made the headlines. Probably more excited to hear the rumours of the atari burial were true than I ever was to have played the game lol



rodoubleb said:

Last I had heard from the AVGN, while they did find ET carts in the documentary, they did not find the millions Atari supposedly dumped.

It's a general landfill from the 80s, and any landfill from the 80s is probably going to have a bunch of Atari games.



MikeLove said:


The producers only had a permit to dig for a couple hours if I remember correctly. In that short span they found thousands of games, consoles, and other Atari related products. The exact location of this 'burial site' was well known and documented.

It was not just a 'general landfill', and there is no other 'landfill from the 80's' that contains such a large volume of Atari merchandise anywhere else. An entire warehouse of stuff was buried there.

Looks like this will be an interesting movie, especially the investigate part involving them finding the dump location. I don't understand why so many people here seem disinterested in it.



rodoubleb said:

I might have been thinking about a different attempt to find the carts. I remember they found some carts mixed in with a bunch of other garbage. Nothing definitive.

After seeing more recent news I agree they seem to have found 'an' Atari dump. James and Pat say here that there were records on this dump, and that ET carts are a small percentage of the 700,00+ there.



capriboy said:

I played a lot ET. In Brazil it was common to find copies of the original games. Another common thing was games without manuals. At that time, with my 12 years I was able to finish the game without a manual.

Honestly, who did not like ET because it is not like challenge. The game required much more than a simple push of buttons. Like who today do not like Megaman 9 on the Wii but is entitled "HARDCORE" because playing HALO.

ET is a classic like HERO, Pitfall, Centipede, Haunted House (another very difficult game especially if played without manual), Keystone Kapers, Adventure, River Raid, Smurfs, Seaquest, Space Invaders and many others. I think ET has paid the price for being ahead of the ability of the players at that time.



ogo79 said:

they are taking all the et carts out of there to fill it with n64 games, a worthy grave. i just hope the dirt doesnt get offended



Bender said:

@ACK I don't think you understand. ET was THE WORST game EVER created, and actually caused a HUGE crash in Video Game History. The only reason video games were picked back up is because Nintendo released the NES with ROB as a "toy", which became a huge hit (obviously). Imagine this, if ET hit, caused that crash, and Nintendo remained a card company, we wouldn't have video games as we know and love them today.



AshFoxX said:

@ACK ...Are you kidding? These guys solved one of the biggest gaming mysteries in the history of the industry. Many people were certain that the story of burying the carts was an urban legend. The fact that they were found is amazing, and it's extremely important to the history of the gaming industry.

I am frothing at the mouth to watch this. Now we just need the Blockbuster Atari and Console Wars movies.



the_shpydar said:

Ahh, revisionist history is always entertaining.

Especially when half-truths and untruths get perpetuated year after year by ignorant uninformed youngsters who basically just repeat what they've heard over and over.

The landfill was NEVER a mystery. It was well-documented. There were multiple articles about it from the 80s alone that spoke specifically about it. Never a mystery.

ET did not cause the crash. Neither did Pac-Man for the 2600. They've just become the iconic symbols of the crash over the years.

And if anyone genuinely believes ET is the worst game ever, i suggest you check out the literally hundreds of Atari, NES and other 2nd and 3rd gen games (and beyond) that are infinitely worse.

But what do i know. I was only around when it all actually happened. Obviously those who know nothing of the truth but what they've been told by others know better than i do.



dadajo said:

I own ET for the atari 2600 and it is not that bad. I mean it is not good by any means but it is playable and far from the worst game I have ever played. Also I love how they made the trailer so dramatic and made it seem like ET was the main cause but really ET was only a factor to the bigger picture of the crash of Atari. Plus the landfill is not even filled with ET but many other games and all they did was really get permission to dig in a well documented landfill burial.



ACK said:

@AshFoxX @B3ND3R Honestly I think you are a couple of jokers if you believe what you say. ET was never that important of a game. I lived through the Atari, most of my relatives owned one (not us). One even owned ET. This is just some exaggerated propaganda to attempt to transform the movie into a lucrative endeavor. It has very little to do with the history of games other than as an obvious footnote to the cynical practices of publishers in those early days.

And the fact that is was buried in a landfill is insignificant. Many corporations litterally bury their skeletons when a product doesn't pan out. Other than the scope, there is hardly anything abnormal or, honestly, interesting about this documentary.

Go ahead and watch it, but don't fool yourself with the significance of it all.

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