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HELP E.T. GET HOME! What kind of crazy planet is this, anyway? We came here to conduct a simple study of primitive planets, and look what happened! These...things...came and scared away my friends. Before I knew it, all my friends boarded our lightship and flew home. What do I do now? The only one I can trust is that nice little alien-- Ellleeott. He gives me those tasty energy pills (What did he call them? Reeessseess Peeesssesss?) But these other aliens! Every time I get ready to assemble my transgalactic communicatior, they come and take me away. The one with the white coat sticks that temperature measuring device in my mouth (I wonder why he was so upset when it melted?), and the other one in the trench coat keeps muttering those strange sounds (Naaashaaannaall Seeeccuuuureeetteee?) I just want to go home! I hope Elllleeott and I can assemble all the pieces of my communicator before my energy runs out. Oh, oh. Here come those crazy aliens again. Help me, Elllleeott! Help me get home! Your mission is to help E.T. find the three pieces of his interplanetary telephone, call his ship, and guide him to the landing pad in time to be rescued. Do this before E.T.'s energy runs out, and you'll win the round and score points! E.T. transverses six sites on Planet Earth. Four of these are full of pitfalls--they are dotted with deep wells (Figure 1) into which E.T. can fall (Figure 2). A fifth site (Figure 3) shows Elliott's house, the Institute of Science, and the FBI building. Here, E.T. is taken by the scientist to be studied. The sixth site (Figure 4) is a forest setting where E.T. first lands and where the ship will land to pick him up. A game ends when E.T. runs out of energy or when you decide to quit playing.
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What does this have to do with the movie? Well, I read the back of the tape box and saw that yes, ET wants to build a phone to call home, so technically, I guess it does follow the movie in that regard, so there is no penalty for not following the movie at all like for example, Charlie's Angels. The thing that kills this game so much is the high confusion on what you are looking at, how dreadful the navigation is, and what exactly you are supposed to be doing. All this has to do with the fact that the game was programmed in 5 weeks (some say 6 weeks) and 5 million copies were printed right after with zero testing. The gameplay is extremely confusing and there seems to be no distinction to any human if there is actual progression taking place as you play.
The bottom line, this game is a terrible mess, but keep in mind, it is impossible to make a good game in a short time. This game is a very important piece in gaming history. It shows what happens when you rush a game like this and what happens when the market is flooded with bad games. This game is said to have single-handedly cause the famous videogame market crash of 1983 and over one million copies were buried in New Mexico shortly after release.
Something interesting is that this game released in 1982, caused the game market crash in 1983, yet I have a copy that was printed in 1986. See this item's pictures to see what I mean. But here are the differences that I saw:
Copyright: 1982 Atari Inc.
Warner Communications logo
Made in U.S.A.
Atari seal logo
PO box number
Copyright: 1986 Atari corp
No Warner Communications logo
No UPC barcode
Made in Taiwan
No Atari seal logo
No PO box number
*Since I am not opening these games, I have no idea what differences are in the insides of the game boxes. I played an older copied that was given to me a few years ago to see what the game actually was.