Way back in 1983 the Atari 2600 ruled the world of gaming. A benevolent ruler to be sure, but Atari was the king.
And what a king Atari was.
Atari changed the way people used their TV. Atari released some of the most memorable games of all time including Donkey Kong and Frogger.
This made Atari 9th on the all time "King" list (between King Solomon and the Sacramento Kings.)
Atari was part of the Warner Communications company and had been since way back in could 1976. Atari was responsible for 80% of the video game market and 70% of Warner's operating profits. In 1982 the head of Warner Communications made a deal with Steven Spielberg to make a video game based on the movie E.T. The cost of the licensing agreement was an outstanding $20 million dollars.
FYI: $20 million dollars in 1983 would be worth over $450 trillion today (unless my calculator is broken. Hey wait, is this a calculator? This might actually be an old Speak and Spell with the label ripped off.)
This was a somewhat unusual move. Most games at the time were not based on movies; instead they were based on giant frogs crossing the street and apes that are inexplicably called "donkey".
Howard Scott Warshaw was tapped to create E.T. Warshaw was a skilled programmer, but he was saddled with a ridiculously short deadline.
The resulting game is widely considered the worst game of all time.
Now, let me make an admission. I am obsessed with it.
I am not sure when I first played E.T., but it was long before I heard what a flop it was. I loved the game. I picked up a guide book "How to Play E.T." at garage sale, and I have been hooked on it for years.
The game play is simple. You move E.T. through several screens looking for the parts of E.T.'s phone. There is a scientist and an FBI agent on the lookout for E.T.
The scientist with kidnap you and the FBI agent will steal a piece of your phone.
He must look like a dork when he gets back to headquarters.
FBI AGENT: I just saw an alien.
CLERK: Sure you did.
FBI AGENT: I really did!
CLERK: Prove it.
FBI AGENT: OK, look at this phone I found.
...then the agent would fall down causing him to look like a dork.
The pieces of the phone are hidden in pits that E.T. has to fall into.
The holes are what many people hated about the game. They are EVERYWHERE and it is quite easy to fall into them by accident.
Still, the game was amazing!
CHECK OUT THESE GRAPHICS:
So, with annoying holes, mediocre graphics and a bad storyline OTHER CONSUMERS (again, not me) hated this game.
Atari had woefully miscalculated the amount of games that would be sold and they were left with millions of unsold cartridges. So they did the only logical thing. They buried them in the desert.
Yup. They sent truckload of cartridges to a desert landfill drove a steamroller over them and covered them in cement.
Kinda like what happened to Joe Pesci in "Casino".