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E.T. (video game)

E.T. was a video game created in 1983 for the Atari 2600 video game system. The game player maneuvers E.T. through several screens looking for all the pieces necessary to assemble a device to phone home. A government agent and a scientist are both pursuing E.T.; the scientist will kidnap E.T. for study; the FBI agent will take one or more of the pieces of E.T.'s phone. E.T. then has to find the pieces again, which are now in different locations. Elliot arrives to revive E.T. if E.T. runs out of energy; he can do this three times per game. E.T. can also revive a flower for an extra revival from Elliot.

Video game fans and historians note this game as the biggest flop in home computer game history. Ray Kassar, the CEO of Atari, talked to Steven Spielberg and came back with the licensing rights for E.T. for the shockingly high price of $20 million. (In comparison, Wing Commander, released in 1990, cost "only" $1 million, was a huge hit by industry standards, and still didn't make back its investment without the help of sequels and expansion packs.) Atari] anticipated enormous sales based on the popularity of the movie E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, but the game ended up having surprisingly poor sales. Opinions on the actual quality of the game range from "unbelievably bad" to "moderately enjoyable." However, as with almost any game, video game enthusiasts could find people who even thought it was quite good.

Atari produced more cartridges than there were 2600 game consoles in existence at the time. Most of them wound up in landfills and as tax writeoff. This game was one of many bad decisions that led to the bankruptcy of Atari, and it is seen as one of two major video game releases (along with the Atari 2600 version of Pac Man) that sparked the video game crash of 1983.

E.T. was written by Howard Warshaw, the same person who wrote Yars' Revenge. Yars' Revenge is considered to be one of the best titles on the 2600. The problem was not the skill of the programmer; the problem was the unreasonably short deadline - a mere eight weeks, when most games needed more than twice that - in order to make the Christmas sales season. Regardless, Howard had some confidence in his creation, ironically introducing it to Steven Spielberg as "the game that would make the movie famous".

Other E.T. games

The most well-known E.T. computer game is the 2600 version, for the reasons cited above, but there are other versions.

There was an E.T. game available for the Atari 400/800 system.

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