The insanity of E.T. the Game

Stories of failure are often far more interesting than stories of success, and in video games, there was probably no bigger flop than E.T. the game.

In the summer of 1982, E.T. became the biggest movie of its time, and it was the box-office juggernaut that couldn’t be stopped. So how could the game turn out so badly?

As it turns out, the game was rushed to try and make it to shelves that Christmas, and while it didn’t sink Atari singlehandedly, the company quickly went downhill after the E.T. disaster, and they never recovered. Atari also went downhill right after its peak year, making its demise even more bewildering, and legend has it a ton of the E.T. game cartridges were later buried in a landfill.

But even three decades after this debacle, the fallout from this bomb still lingers, and the site PCWorld tells us that modders actually did a reboot of this game. As Alex Cocilova writes, “A code hacker managed to fix some of the games most glaring problems, and now it’s actually fun to play.”

As far as what went wrong the first time, besides the fact that the game was rushed, the graphics were terrible, and some felt the game was difficult for young kids to learn their way around. Yet Cocilova also wrote that the game has its defenders, and that there are people who found E.T. to be a “good, enjoyable, entertaining game.”

Apparently, the person who fixed up the game is a guy named David Richardson from Greenville, PA, who also goes by the name Recompile.

Richardson also set the game up with new ROM code that makes the game much better to play. You can also customize the game yourself and tweak the difficulty level if you wish.

It’s doubtful the E.T. game will get rediscovered and have a big comeback, but maybe a small handful of gamers will turn it into an underground phenomenon, a guilty pleasure people like to play behind closed doors. It’s weird to think a game based on one of the biggest movies of all time could wind up this way, although it’s frankly a miracle anyone remembers it after all these years, no matter how hard some of us try to forget.