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E.T. Appreciation Page
This is where you can read positive things others have to say about E.T. for the Atari 2600. You may see a few negative things mixed in with the praise, but it's positive for the most part. You can also submit your own praise and short personal stories if you want. I might have to edit your comments for space considerations, spelling, foul language, and so on, but if it's fairly coherent, I'll usually add any pro-E.T. submission. Be sure to tell me what name you want me to use, such as your real name, your favorite username, or anonymous.
It doesn't matter if what you have to say is similar to what is already on this page, your contribution is needed. It will help show those who blindly follow the 'E.T. sucks' parade without giving it a chance that there are many people who really like the game.
I recently introduced my 4 year old son to the Atari 2600, which was the video game system of my youth. One of his favorite games, and mine as well, is E.T. After some practice, he has figured out how to get out of pits fairly well. As for the rest of the game, he knows to look for the question marks to find the phone pieces, as well as to eat the little dots (reese's pieces) for extra points. After that, he looks for the "frog" (which is what he thinks it looks like) to call the spaceship, goes to the forest to look for the square, and sends E.T. home!
Now, if my 4 year old son can play this game with a little instruction, I see no reason why an older child, or adult, should have a hard time playing it. Granted, my son plays game 3, without the menacing FBI agent or scientist, but when he gets older, I'm sure he'll be able to beat the more difficult game variations.
In my opinion, E.T. (the game) has been unfairly criticized, simply because it didn't live up to the enormous expectations placed on it from the success of the movie. I'm not saying the game is phenomenal, which it isn't, but it certainly is enjoyable to play, as long as you know what to do.
So to all who have heard bad things about this game, try reading the game instructions before you play and pass judgement. It's a good game that just got a bad rap.
I think the whole reason people thought E.T. sucked is because it was one of the few 2600 games you had to read the manual for. Most of us just pop-n-play and do relatively well with most games. I remember reading a magazine review of E.T. in which the reviewer gave it a low score because he was following the arrows and getting nowhere.
I never played E.T. right, that's why I enjoyed it. Though in later years I was able to play it and beat it.
Being a youngin' like I was, I used to set the game on higher levels and just run around and try to stay way from the scientist dude.. It was always kind of funny to get into high-speed E.T. mode and go buzzing around all over the place. Especially when the scientist is carrying you around. It was also fun to call in Eliot and run away from him…just silly stuff.
Even now, E.T. doesn't really seem like a rushed game, it's just kind of complex for a 2600 game. There are a lot of neat things about the game. Easter eggs, and the fact that the game has a real ending, either if you die or win the game.. All that stuff I thought was really neat. Once you learn your way out of the wells, it's not bad at all.
My own little personal story.
I loved E.T. It was just the right game for a semi-poor kid who needed replayable games (since I couldn't buy a new game every week as so many other kids seemed to do). Sure, I thought it was strange that there were wells all over the place, but after I got over that shock, E.T. ended up being one of my favorite games. Thank God E.T. wasn't just one more lame 'toilet paper game' where you finish it once and then flush it.
I love most games that use randomness effectively, but to me, E.T. is much better and more fun than games such as Adventure, Superman, and Raiders of the Lost Ark. It makes sense that I would like E.T. more since it was born from those games.
To me, E.T. is also a million times better than that so-called adventure game Pitfall II: Lost Caverns where things are always in the same place and you jump over mindless enemies that just bounce up and down or move back and forth and usually don't even know you're there. Pitfall II: Lost Caverns did have some cool things in it such as being able to swim, but for the most part, it was just another lame exercise in perfect timing with nothing else to offer except the frustration of going back many screens to do it all over again. At least the original Pitfall let you skip or retry the screen you were on (your choice depending on whether you went left or right). The idiotically frustrating idea of making you go back multiple screens was not an advance, it was a giant step backwards and that model is still used today by misguided game designers.
Back on topic, I thank Howard Scott Warshaw, Warren Robinett, John Dunn, and others who created replayable games. All programmers who used the mighty power of Controlled Randomness in their games should be praised.
Here-here it's about time!! I've had E.T. since it was new, Dad bought it for me and I thought it was great from day one and could never understand the bad rap it got, even to this today. Sure it's aged, and it has a lot of potential "flaws" that we'd like to think aren't in modern games, but back in those days you accepted them and got on with it, thought of them as features and had an enjoyable game, far more enjoyable than a certain "Adventure" game I could mention.
Well, first off let me say thanks for putting up a pro-E.T. page. I agree with many of your comments about how E.T. gets a bad rap. It's often lumped in with Pac-Man as a major contributor to the "great crash" but I don't see it that way at all. Whereas Pac-Man is clearly not anything like the real Pac-Man (and I remember being disappointed when it first came out, even for Atari), E.T. was different.
I got E.T. on Christmas morning 1982. I was 11 years old, and couldn't wait to get it. In fact, I talked my mother into giving me the cartridge at Midnight on Christmas Eve as it was technically Christmas, and I played it for a long time, well past my bedtime.
To make a long story short, I loved the game. I remember the anxiety I went through listening to the ship timer tick down and hoping that the FBI Agent or the scientist wouldn't show up near the landing pad before my ship got there. I was impressed with the large title screen and the E.T. music, which was quite impressive for the time, and, unlike what a lot of people say, I never had any problems with the pits, except if I ran through screens at high speed and sometimes fell into one. Basically, it was a relatively simple matter to memorize the locations of the pits on each screen and then avoid that area when entering a new screen.
I never found any Easter Eggs, nor did I care about my score. I simply wanted to finish the game. I played E.T. often, and still enjoy it today. Of course, I know a lot more about the situation surrounding E.T.'s creation now than I did then, but I judged E.T. on whether or not it was fun to play, and it certainly was. One thing that I enjoyed about it was the fact that, unlike a number of Atari games, it didn't end in 5 minutes, and it actually had an ending. I'm not one of those "get the best score you can" gamers — I'm more of a "get to the ending" gamer, and Atari had precious few of those games. Thus, games like Asteroids and Berzerk never did much for me, but games like E.T. did.
Is it still fun to play? Yes, I think it is, and that's ultimately what makes a game stand out for me. There are lots of games that came before E.T. (and after) that can't make the "it's fun to play" claim.
I think E.T. is OK compared to the slew of garbage on the Atari.
Here are but a few examples:
various U.S. Games titles (like Entombed)
and the worst Atari game of all time:
ANY Swordquest title!!
Well, at first I hated it! But since then, I gave it another whirl, and now I like it.
Overall, E.T. wasn't too bad. It is somewhat challenging though when you include the scientist and FBI agent. The graphics are definitely above average for an Atari 2600 game, and the theme music at the beginning is very well done. If you have the instruction manual, it's a breeze to figure out how to play the game. Unfortunately, I can't say the same for HSW's other game, Raiders of the Lost Ark. Anyway, I bought the E.T. cartridge shortly after the crash in 1984 at a Sears closeout store for only $2. I dug my old system out of the attic about a month ago and noticed that I lost the E.T. cart, but I still had the manual. Luckily, I found another copy at a flea market, once again for only $2!
I received E.T. in 82 or 83. Other than Megamania, it was the most played game that I had. I must have logged several hundrend hours on it, and have fond memories of those times.
I recall the medium level as being almost impossibly hard, which is rather amusing today. I told many people at the time how 'no one could beat the third level'.
E.T. was very good for it's time. Heck, I liked the game better than the movie. That *really* puts me in the minority.
I have about 100 Atari 2600 games. I can stand to play most of them about 5 minutes at a time. When I put E.T. in, I can play all night.
E.T. is an awesome game. Great graphics, Decent sound, Action, Adventure, and a reason....nay a goal, a definite goal with an actual ending once completed. What more could you ask for??
WAHAHAHHAH!! But moycon, Those pits... I fall in them... I hate those pits!!! WAAHHH!!
Oh shut the hell up and take the 5 minutes it takes to master the pits my friend. You won't be sorry you did.
I've always liked the E.T. game. I have never understood why it has been the recipient of such virulent attack. One common complaint is that the game is too hard. Well, I got the game when I was 9 or 10 years old, read the instructions, and finished it not too long after. Another complaint is that the pits are annoying. Yes, perhaps they are, but I don't see why they are any more annoying than obstacles in other games. Without obstacles in video games, where is the challenge? For example, a lot of people find the bats and condors in Pitfall II pretty annoying, but how often do you hear people condemn the game because the "bats and condors are SO annoying"? Personally, I think it's just "en vogue" to spurn E.T. and if gamers truly give the game a chance, they'll find it quite agreeable.
I think E.T. is very mediocre but not bad. It's not much worse than Raiders of the Lost Ark and used much of the same code. But Indy is cooler than E.T. and at least he got to shoot something.
Defend it all you want, but the pits were rotten. Warshaw didn't have any real challenges in the game for E.T. to face so the challenge level was the ridiculous level of precision required for what was sold as a kids' game.
But the real reason for the hate is long-forgotten. In 1982 the typical price for an Atari cart was $20-35. When E.T. came out it was priced at $50 [Note from DAH: It's possible that it could have been 50 dollars in Canada or some high-priced big city store, but it was under 40 dollars for the rest of us]. The only higher-priced cart was Zaxxon for Colecovision. Parents balked at the price, then when their kids turned of the game because of all the damn pits the parents vowed not to waste their money on more Atari games.
FOR THE LOVE OF CTHULU: Someone find an old issue of Mad magazine from January or February 82. the back cover shows an Atari E.T. cart with a $50 price tag. E.T. points his magic finger at the price tag and says "Ouch."
E.T. had a lot to do with driving the video game crash which began immediately afterwards. And if parents were burned on both Pac-man and E.T. that was it for new Atari games in their house forever.
I am not a gamer. I'm not really great at action video games. I had an Atari 800 computer (at age 11) and was programming on it, before I ever actually played a 2600 game. I have though, always been drawn to adventure and puzzle games. On a visit to my grandmother's house at the time I discovered that she had purchased a 2600 and the E.T. game. I was confused by the game a bit at first, but then read the manual. I was hooked shortly thereafter!! I managed to solve the game about 1/2 hour later. I don't remember anything about the difficulty level. I can tell you that it was a wonderful experience. I must give this game a thumbs up. I also disagree with anyone who says that it was too difficult for young kids. I do agree that it might not appeal to the action mind(less)ed gamer.
E.T. was always one of my favorite VCS 2600 adventure games. I remember the day I bought it: it was just available for sale. When I went home I immediately plugged the cart into the VCS.... I was very impressed by the title screen graphics and the movie's music theme. I thought Woohaooh!!!... the VCS can do that!!! It's incredible! I remember I called my mom to come to watch that on the TV because I really wanted to share my wonder.
Then I read carefully the manual and I started to play... and I played E.T. again and again: it was such a good game. E.T. is a very addictive game for a lot of reasons: each new game is different from the previous one, displaying an action's icon depending E.T.'s location is a clever idea... so searching for a particular icon is funny as we have to make E.T. run everywhere and to use our memory to locate, remember and find the good action's icon, graphics are very good and the game mechanisms are very inventive.
I remember the first time I saw the Yar on the screen, I didn't know what happened because I didn't know Easter eggs existed! I found this event very cool but I didn't know how to reproduce it.
Pit's falls was never a problem for me and I really think it doesn't have to be a problem for every player when playing for a while. It's just a matter of practice... Not a big problem! The hardest part of the game is to synchronize the actions/enemy moves to call the spaceship and go away with it... it's a very intense and stressful moment and this part makes the game more addictive too. What a pleasure to win!!!
I have to add that it was very impressive by the development team (Howard Scott Warshaw & Jerome Domurat) : what a challenge to create such a good game in such a short time: congratulations!!!
I was one of the ones that received E.T. as a Christmas present. I loved the game. I don't understand why some say that it was one of the worst (if not the worst) games for the VCS.
I thought the graphics were great! The title screen blew my mind when I plugged in the cart. Back then most games didn't have a title screen and if they did they didn't look that detailed. Just by looking at the game and not reading the manual I could tell which characters were Elliot, E.T., government officials, and the scientists. They were also very colorful for a VCS game.
I also loved the E.T. theme that was played. It was neat being able to hear it.
As for the game play, well, if you liked Superman and Adventure, you should have liked E.T. The game play was almost identical! How could someone praise Adventure but think E.T. was awful. At least E.T. didn't suffer from the character flicker that the others did.
HSW if you ever read this just know I thought E.T. was a great game. Later when I found out how long it took you to conceive and program this game, it made me even more fond of it.
I want to quickly put in my 2 cents worth. I received the game a few weeks after Christmas. I bought it myself with my own money, I plugged the game in and was so frustrated with the pits I turned it off for quite some time.
But being so young I never took it back for a refund and instead a few weeks later plugged it back in and with a grim determination I slowly understood where the pits were (my mom even put Saran Wrap on our TV screen so I could draw were the pits were).
I read and reread the game manual and understood the basis of the game after months of trying and trying I assembled the 3 pieces of the phone, found the landing site, and enjoyed the ending of E.T.
I laugh about it today because I remember being so proud I figured out how to get E.T. home. I feel even better today that an 11 year old was able to finish the so-called 'unplayable game'.
I was frustrated with E.T. at first when I was a kid, but once I read the manual I understood it and played it until I beat it. I think it got a bad rap because most people weren't used to reading manuals in those days- the games were usually easy to figure out. Today, you usually have to do some reading to play a game. E.T. definitely had its flaws, but probably about 70% of the 2600 library is worse.
I picked E.T. up for two bucks back in the day, and I thought xmas had come early. I rushed home, popped it into my 2600, and had a blast. The funny thing is, I cannot stand the movie, which proves that there is some real merit to the game! E.T. distills the best elements from Adventure and Superman, then adds some (much needed) originality and randomness, which makes for a fun challenge each time you play. And for the love of god people, SHUT UP ABOUT THE DAMN PITS ALREADY! Take the three minutes it takes to learn how to play the game. I *never* thought of the pits as any big deal until I listened to all the whining on the 'net. If anything, they add to the experience by requiring you to play with some skill, otherwise escaping from the baddies would be too easy with E.T.'s turbo-run mode. As it is, the game has a nice tension level to it. I think, in the end, E.T. got a bad rep because it's more of a game for mature players that was targeted at little kids, who quickly became lost and confused. It was also made in a time where simple twitch games were the norm, and E.T. is much more involved than that.
Give it a chance folks.
I actually fall between the two camps. Back in the day, I didn't own it, but a friend did and I was thoroughly frustrated with falling into a stupid pit over and over.
Years later, I picked up a bunch of used cartridges and tried it again, this time with the manual handy, I managed to avoid the pit bug as well as understand the rest of it. As such, what used to be a frustrating gaming experience became a sense of real accomplishment.
I don't think it's the best game every made for the Atari. That was Moonsweeper. But it is a fun, little adventure game that would have been a hit if they'd had a little more time to work on it and to iron out all the bugs, and perhaps make the control a little less counter-intuitive, but that's just me. As it stands, it is a fun game once you figure out what to do and how to do it.
I was too young to play the Atari 2600 when it came out I was more into the NES, one of Ataris old nemesis I believe. But being the avid gamer I am I recently bought one and ET came with. I like the game overall, but one thing that annoys me is no matter how well I maneuver around wells to escape the pursuers its all undermined when they walk over the well like it isn't there, which in my opinion was if not a glitch, stupid. But other than that it looks like a cool game everybody likes cool alien powers at their disposal. And miscellaneous dispersal of phone parts gives it good replay value. I'd give it a 7 out of 10.
I'm so glad to find this page. I am also one of the crowd that really enjoyed playing ET back in the day. I was never aware of the 'ET is Crap' scene - we simply saw this as a fun adventure game for our 2600, and was immensely surprised to learn much later in life how many people hated it.
I think it is an awesome game for the 2600, and I am very glad that sites like this give it the credit it deserves.
I remember getting E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial for Christmas. Being into science fiction at the time, I was pretty happy with the game and would spend hours upon hours playing it. It was the best Christmas present I ever got. "Thanks Mom!"
The Pits were the worst thing about the game as they tended to be hard to get out of. Aside from that, E.T. was a very challenging and amazing game for the time.
I never understood where all this E.T. bashing came from. Back in the early 80s my friends and I really enjoyed this game and thought it was great. It had more playability and longer playability than a lot of other games out there at the time. It also stretched what the Atari 2600 could do.
The truth is, when Atari become unpopular in Canada was around the time Nintendo's NES came out in the late 80s. The NES was just more advanced so people jumped ship.
The sad part, all those sealed in box carts at K-Mart selling for 99 cents, and us kids wanting to buy them but feeling to cool to buy them as they were now old. Darn it. If only I had a time machine!
Some people think that there is only one E.T. game out there. Well they are wrong. These are the sequels and spinoffs that are in cart form:
E.T. Go Home
This is a really sad and broken English spinoff.
E.T. vs. HSW
A hack of Pac-Man incorporating a really bad game with an infamous alien.
E.T. Book Cart
A book in cartridge form focusing on the original game.
E.T. Return to Earth A.K.A. Save Elliot (Sequel to E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial)
This is a prototype purchased in Taiwan and currently residing in a collection in Paris, France.
There's not much I can say other than, if you haven't tried the game or dislike the game: Buy it! Play it for a while and you'll see how much fun it is.
Never thought I would say this.
I lost my ET Cartridge and diggs130 was kind enough to send me another in the mail.
I read the manual and have played the game for two days.
Random Terrain is right!
This is a GOOD game when you know what you are doing.
One of the best games for the VCS and not the worst.
The preaching of Random Terrain is nothing but the most pure of truths.
Give it a proper chance rather than bashing it as I naively did for years.
I stumbled upon the ET Appreciation page. Quite interesting.
Unlike a lot of those people that liked ET, I never read the manual. I just think that since I was a kid, I didn't really have the patience maybe. In any case I did figure it out myself. I didn't know what most of the symbols meant, but I figured out what the ship symbol was, and I found all the pieces to the phone. And then saw the timer, after a couple of times of doing this I finally won. So I guess I liked it because I had accomplished it myself.
As far as the pits are concerned, yeah it was a pain because the collision detection wasn't all that advanced back then. But you learn how to avoid the pits (or fall in them deliberately because a piece of the phone is there.)
Overall I enjoyed the game. I don't know if it was my favorite, my favorite 2600 game was yars revenge, but ET was still pretty good.
Let me begin by saying that I got my first Atari VCS six weeks ago, it came with three games, combat, Pac-Man, and E-T. Though I was excited about my new Atari, I was apprehensive about the choice of games.
Combat is, by and large, an amazing game for two players, if only I had a friend who wasn't tainted by the distracting graphics of the latest generation consoles.
Pac-Man, though very enjoyable is a tad to easy, and the flicker on the screen becomes headache inducing after several minutes.
E.T., In spite of everything I have read to the contrary, is a gem. The game-play is smooth, the controls are tight, though a bit confusing in the beginning. What makes E.T. really shine are the crisp, clean graphics. E.T is the game that inspired me to continue my quest for Atari games. While it is not my favorite (probably not even in the top five), without it I wouldn't have discovered such wonderful games as Turmoil, berzerk, river raid, chopper command, and the rest.
So E.T is not the best game for the 2600, its not my favorite game for the 2600 (that honor goes to turmoil), but it is the reason that I still have my Atari, and the reason that my collection has jumped from 3 games to 40 games in just a few short weeks.
Thank you E.T.
You know, I bashed and still sometimes bash E.T. a fair amount after really playing it. I found it really boring. But the odd thing is, the more I play, the more I'm fascinated by it. I still wouldn't say I like it yet, or if I ever really will. Everyone either gives this game an F or an A grade. For now, I give it a C. It's growing on me and the pits don't bother me much anymore, once I got into how to escape them correctly and to use them strategically. The most annoying part of it for me is the FBI agent always appearing out of nowhere and stealing my telephone parts, and I have to start all over again. GRR! But that's okay, I'll get used to it. Every game needs a little challenge. I still think it could have been a lot better, a lot more polish on the gameplay, but, like Howard Scott Warshaw said, it's pretty good for a game made in only 5 weeks, at a time when a typical Atari 2600 game was made in 6 months or more.
I still have my problems with E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial for Atari 2600, but I'm adjusting to it. And hey, at least it's not Pac-Man for the 2600. Yuck.
I am an E.T. convert. I had been raised to believe that it was the ultimate in bad games (and I've played some bad ones). I had heard the stories, I had seen the YouTube reviews, I've even seen pictures of the so-called "land-fill" where the excess cartridges were dumped. I had never seen the game in action until I watched Spoony's "review" of E.T. on YouTube.
Like many others, all it did was highlight how not knowing anything about the game and diving right in was a bad idea. I suddenly was intrigued to give it a try.
And I loved it!
I play E.T. a few times a week now, and thoroughly enjoy it every time. It offers a unique experience every time I load it up (playing game 1 is the only way to go), and it's fun trying to beat my old scores.
And to add...I love Adventure and Raiders of the Lost Ark as well. Superman not so much.
This game is not that bad, I saw the movie (loved it), we bought the E.T. Shrinkydinks on the way home (plastic toys that you bake in the oven! yaay! lol ) and later I got the game! What more could a kid who loved Atari and E.T. want?
The graphics were top drawer! and after reading...yes reading the manual it was a truly fun game to play! Sure I joke about it from time to time but it was and is a solid title for my 2600!
I always liked E.T. Heck, even the wells didn't bother me any. I thought getting out of them was a good part of the fun.
As a kid, I liked it so much I even designed a sequel. I have no idea where those drawings and level maps would be if they even still exist.
About a year and a half ago, some friends of mine at work were talking about E.T. and thought it was horrible based on what they'd heard. They never played the game, so I started up an emulator (off the clock of course), and showed them how to beat it.
Here's a note from a Dutch fan of Atari 2600's E.T.
I also remember E.T. being one of the best games I used to play back in 1983 (in my case). I have always thought of it as the summum of what Atari had hitherto created. As soon as I found out that there were Atari game emulators available on the Internet (this was four days ago!), I installed E.T. on my laptop. This was priority. I am happy to find a manual this time, and I have even more pleasure playing it than when I was 12 years old.
You are absolutely right: I was also quite surprised to see that so many people disliked the poor game. I always thought of it as the most cerebral and challenging game of its times.
I'm from Brazil and I don't remember about the "I hate E.T." thing over here. I remember that, at the time, without the aid of instructions, I could not figure how to play it properly. And that was the complaint about the game, people said it was too hard, or to difficult to learn (some people only accomplished to reach the flower and revive it, and found that was the cool about the game). These days I bought an E.T. cart and tried it with instructions (and the tips you put here). My immediate thought was "ah! so this is the purpose of all those symbols!" And I have to agree, it's a funny and addictive game, because of the randomness (not to mention graphics and sound).
E.T. is one of my favorite Atari games of all time. In the age of the internet, paired with herd mentality, many people hate this game without even playing it. They think that Atari games are playable without a manual, which is an awful ruse in most cases. For an Atari game with great music, recognizable and colorful characters, no flickers, a plot, and a great title screen (most Atari games don't even have that!), it's one of the best. Recently, I played this game at a gaming marathon for charity, and a lot of people were surprised and thought this game was bad, and I convinced them otherwise. Sure, the pits can be a bit troublesome, but in my opinion, it's just a challenge that you need to overcome. Journalists like to claim that this is one of the worst games of all time, but I don't know anyone that really hated this game. It's downfall was the amount of copies made, not the quality of the game. So yeah, E.T. is one of my favorite Atari games, and it's not bad at all.
I am a 12 year old boy who just got an Atari 2600. Here's my story.
It happened in the 2012 Christmas Season. My sisters were opening their jewelry and screaming with joy at the marvelous beauty of it, while I, the only boy, who loathes their jewelry and looks upon it with disgust, finished unwrapping my presents.
Suddenly, my mother said she had a huge surprise. A thousand thoughts rushed to my head in an instant. Did Grandma die? Were we going to Disneyland? Were we getting a pony? No, it was a heck of a lot different. She brought in about 5 or 6 boxes. I was anticipating the unwrapping of the boxes, but my mother insisted on getting her camera. So, I had to wait fifteen minutes while she looked for it.
Then, she told us to open the boxes. We got a Playstation 2, a Playstation, A YOBO (An NES, SNES, and SEGA GEN combo), an NES, and... and an Atari 2600. My sisters glared at it with repulsion, but I was ecstatic. An Atari 2600! Amazing! It was the best Christmas I have had so far.
I tried the Playstation 2, the Playstation, the YOBO, the NES, and everything else. But it wasn't until a few days later that I got to play the Atari. My mother continued to say it would take a while to hook up, and since one of the cords was snapped, it would take forever to get it in the right position to work. She also said it doesn't work well on the newer television sets, like Plasma TVs. Fortunately, she dug up an old TV that couldn't display color if it's 'life' depended on it.
I spent the thirty minutes plugging up the Atari, and about five days after receiving it, began to play Pac-Man. This game was terrible. It looked nothing like Pac-Man. So, I tried Berzerk. I loved it, and stuck with it for a few days. After getting bored with it, I played Missile Command. This occupied me for about a month, and then I grew tired of it. I played River Raid, and loved it, but only saw it fit for about ten minutes of gameplay every few days. Then, I dug through the mountain of cartridges, and unveiled E.T. The Extraterrestrial.
I looked at it with doubt, seeing as though it is held responsible for the Gaming Industry Crash of '83, but inserted it into the Atari anyway. I had no idea what I was supposed to do. I followed the arrows, being as careful as I can not to surpass an arrow, and weird symbols are being thrown onto the screen. This ticked me off. Then, I just decided to quit, and that was that.
Then, about four weeks later, I found a video on Youtube called 'E.T. The Extraterrestrial (How To Beat Home Video Games)'. I watched it, and this man explained exactly what to do in five minutes. He explained the importance of Reese's candies, the phone home area, the landing site area, the find a phone piece area, and everything else. He was playing game variation 3, and I didn't know how to get to it until I tried excessively. Yet today, I play on game variation 1, finding enjoyment in the difficulty.
Nowadays, I am a very faithful supporter of E.T. The Extraterrestrial. I love this game, and I just can't get off my Atari anymore. I believe that it is held responsible for the Gaming Crash of '83 because most people would just throw the manual away, thinking the game was just another arcade game that you figured out how to do in about two minutes time. They didn't know it was one of the rare games that was complex and you actually had to read the manual.
That is why I love E.T. The Extraterrestrial.
It actually makes me a little mad ... all this negative press that the old ET video game gets. The problem wasn't the game. The problem was the brain-dead populace that could not figure out how to play it.
Now, I admit, the game was a little tricky to learn. As another poster has said, back then everyone expected to just pop the game in the Atari, turn it on, and be able to figure it out intuitively. I mean, "Space Invaders" this wasn't.
In fact, when I first got the game, I hated it. That's because I couldn't figure out how to play it. I almost gave up on the thing.
But ... there was still some undeniable appeal to the game. There was a sense of adventure to it. I liked the idea that the game took place on more than just one screen ... that there was this whole "world" to explore made up of many screens ... including a city (Washington DC), a forest (the landing zone), and all these other screens.
So ... I decided to keep trying. It's like I knew that if I ever figured it out, it would be a really fun game.
Now, unlike most people, I actually bothered to read the manuals back then. (I was 13 or 14 when I got the game.) And I must admit, even the manual was a little tricky to understand. What were these "zones" it kept talking about.
It was just such a weird concept ... the same joystick button did different things in different spots on the screen. It didn't quite register at first. I think I read the manual three times, while just sort of experimented with it. Read ... experiment ... read ... experiment ... kind of the way I learned to program in BASIC back then too.
But when I finally learned to play ... I was like, "This is REALLY COOL!!!" It was alot of fun.
I started on the easy level, with Eliot being the only human to deal with. That was fun for a little while. But pretty soon I brought in the FBI and the scientist dude too.
Another "problem" with the game was that it lends itself to a methodical style of play. For players who rely solely on reflexes and fast hands ... well, I can see how this game would be frustrating to such people. When the humans are added, you have to OUT THINK them, not out shoot or out punch them. And again, back then, people just weren't used to doing that in a video game.
My strategy was always to leave the forrest landing area when the ship left, and then come right back. (For some reason, the "zones" would some times switch places if you didn't do this first.) Then I would find the "landing zone" and make note of where it was. I would also locate the "Drive humans away" zone in the forrest, and make sure I knew where it was.
Then I would search the whole game for the "phone home" zone, and make note of where it was. I loved it when the silly thing was in Washington D.C. Then I would go find, but not pick up, all the phone pieces.
This way, the FBI agent could not take things away from me while I walked around trying to find what I needed to find. And if the scientist caught me ... well, inconvenient, but not terrible.
Once I located everything, I wrapped up the game quickly. Assembled the phone, got to the right zone and called home, then went and stood in the "drive humans away" zone in the forest. Any human that showed up got zapped.
Then with only seconds to spare I would "super-speed" to the landing zone and wait for my ride.
I got to where I never even bothered to trade Eliot candy for phone pieces.
I truly hate that this game is often considered one of the worst ever. It simply doesn't deserve that label. It may not be "Pitfall" or "Starmaster", but it's better than "Yars' Revenge".
I just discovered your website through a link to your E.T. appreciation article. It was refreshing to see an article not bashing the game for a change. Like you I really enjoyed the game back in the early eighties and never realized it's bad reputation until I got Internet in 1997. I still remember when I first got the game. I had picked up the game at Lionel's Playworld (my favorite store for video game shopping until it closed) and when I got home, my dad wouldn't let me use the living room tv. I was around 12 at the time. I ended up playing it on my little b&w tv, but couldn't wait until the next morning when my dad would be at work and I could play it in color. I was really into adventure games on the 2600 and while Raiders of The Lost Ark was my favorite, E.T. was a game I really enjoyed on a regular bases until I moved on to an Atari 800xl. Though I still play both ET and RotLA from time to time, I'm not as good at them as I was when I was a kid as these days I have a harder time beating them than back then.
I think one of my older cousins or my dad taught me how to play ET back in the day, and knowing how to play it probably made me love this game ever since. I'm 36 now and just read the news of the buried cartridges found in New Mexico, which took me to the "worst game ever" comments, etc, etc, which in turn made me google "i love atari ET", finding this awesome site and feeling less troubled at last looking at the hundreds of ET fans who, like myself, will no longer feel weird for loving this game. Thanks RT!
In my opinion Howard Scott Warshaw is a true pioneer of the video game indistry. Before creating E.T. he was responsible for Yars Revenge and Raiders of the Lost Ark, two of Atari's highest grossing games in 1982. It was because of the fact that the first two games he developed for Atari were such supersonic successes that he was offered the opportunity to step up and help deliver E.T. in the first place.
Howard possessed nothing but a "Challenge Accepted" attitude when Atari asked if he could create a game based on a licenced franchise completely from scratch and deliver it in just 5 weeks. He then not only blew past the finish line shouting "Mission Accomplished" but he also had the blessing and approval of Steven Spielberg himself before the game went into production and shipped. Those facts are nothing less than a testament to just how talented a programmer he was.
E.T. could have been a LOT less of a game as much as it could have been more, and if Howard had been given months to produce it vs. weeks I wonder how good a game he actually would have made. It's important to remember that in reality E.T. was nothing more than a commercially available concept demo, one that truly deserved to have been given a much longer development timeline.
I enjoyed E.T. a lot when it was new. I got it. It took a while to figure out, but one of the great things about the game was that it required much more intuitive skill than most of the other games available at the time that typically only called for basic skills in aiming and shooting, avoiding being shot or touched and jumping over large holes in the ground to play successfully.
I'll be honest, I really did not know the real story behind E.T., Howard and the fall of Atari. It was only after watching the documentary "Atari: Game Over" that I discovered many of the truths behind the stories, myths and rumors. The fact that Mr. Warshaw was so talented and had actually accomplished the impossible for Atari only to shoulder the unjust blame of destroying the company for over 30 years is grossly unfair. He should have been celebrated as a pioneer and innovator by the gaming community this whole time. I'm glad the truth is finally starting to come out that he had nothing to do with Atari's demise. Atari did it to themselves, first by even attempting to rush such a crucial product to market in the first place, and then continuing to make unwise business decisions until the company was no longer salvageable.
In conclusion, I loved and STILL LOVE E.T. for the Atari 2600, and Howard Scott Warshaw is now one of my personal heroes. May he finally begin to get the credit and respect he has always deserved.
I found this site because I was searching to see if there were other people, like me, that loved Atari's E.T.
I will admit, I really never liked to read instruction manuals, so when I first got E.T., I had no idea what to do. Luckily, a friend of mine read the manual and showed me how to play the game. After that, it became a game that I played pretty much daily.
It was one of the few Atari games that actually had an "ending" of sorts. You worked to get the pieces of the phone, you had to find the timer, and then you had to get to the launch pad to go home. I liked it even better than things like Donkey Kong because they just kept repeating over and over. I liked that there was some sort of closure. Old games really didn't have a whole lot of that.
I really think this game gets a bad rap for no reason. There are far worse titles out there for the atari 2600. When you look at the fact that E.T. was programmed in five weeks, I think it makes it an even more impressive game.
Anyway, I'm happy to have found this site and I like that there are other people who also enjoy E.T. for the Atari 2600. ^_^
Love your site! I agree wholeheartedly with you and all the others who have expressed how E.T. in no way deserves its bad reputation.
My parents bought E.T. for me Christmas of '82, and in those days before the Internet, there was no one to tell me that I was supposed to hate it. I had to form my own opinion. (I think there's a life lesson in there somewhere.) I read the manual (what!?!??) and soon I was playing and enjoying the game. 30+ years later, I still play it from time to time via emulation. I can't say that about many other games from that era.
I would like to share an end game strategy I've been using lately. Like many (most?) others, I used to phone home, head to the forest, camp out on the Send Humans Back zone, then sprint to the Landing zone as the time expired. As you are well aware, this strategy will fail if a human appears on the screen at the last second, and I would have to repeat, possibly several times.
My new approach to the end game is to phone home, go to the forest to locate the Landing zone, then camp out on one of the well screens, preferably the one nearest the Landing zone, if you take my meaning. In other words, if the Landing zone is near the top of the forest screen, I'll camp out on the Tall Twins screen, etc. I might even sit at the bottom of a well. When the timer nears completion, I'll sprint directly to the Landing zone. This method keeps the humans off the forest screen completely, and yields near 100% success rate on the first landing attempt. It does take away some of the drama, however.
Thanks for the site and for the nostalgia-trip you and others have provided me today!
I am just finding out about the ET Atari 2600 debacle ... I truthfully enjoyed the game and played it until I found out about sex (lol) I guess the perfect age for playing video games (!! ;-)
rock on !
I should now venture toward seeing the YAR .. (!!)
time to go into the attic and find the ole beast ... (and a tv that will support it (lol)
ps .. why no 5200 version ??
Please excuse my poor English.
The reason I came to your website is because as you said I was surprised when I found out that ET on atari 2600 was the worst game in the history of video games...at least that is what people say. I was told by a cousin that Atari went on bankruptcy after releasing the game and that the game itself was the reason for the company to fail. I didn't pay too much attention for a long time to that fact until one day I was watching a Netflix show about the finding of the ET cartridges buried on the desert. If you haven't seen it I recommend you do. The game designer Howard Scott Warshaw, was interviewed on that show and to be honest it broke my hart...he made such a good game and is so unfair that his creation had to be called "the worst game in the history of video games" it is like a world wide bullying against a brilliant mind.
I think that people like you are those who make the difference...dedicating your time and knowledge to do justice. May be for us it is not a big deal but I am sure that for Howard Scott Warshaw supporting his game is something that matters. I wish I could tell him how much I liked his game and say thanks for his contribution to something I really enjoy and love...playing video games.
By the way I played ET on Atari 2600 many years ago. In a friends house because my father was an enemy of the video games. I just love it since the first time I played it. I could finish the game without reading the manual and it was awesome!!! It was like raiders of the lost ark, good graphics, good music and you had to use your brain...I guess that was the reason why so many people hated it.
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If you hate E.T. and reading this page causes you to projectile vomit all over everyone and everything around you, I am not responsible. You should have known better.