E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (Atari 2600)

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Written by  :  Katakis | カタキス (39506)
Written on  :  Mar 16, 2014
Rating  :  1.8 Stars1.8 Stars1.8 Stars1.8 Stars1.8 Stars

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E.T., you're in the pits again!

The Good

This game is based on the movie with the same name, which I have yet to watch. The movie was released in 1992, with a game from Atari released the same year. There are also a few more games that were released over the years, for different platforms, with varying degrees of success.

E.T. for the Atari 2600 doesn't have much of a plot.The object is to collect three pieces of a telephone located in the many pits, while avoiding two guys (scientists and Mr. FBI guy) that will chase you around, making your job difficult, stealing pieces or transporting you elsewhere if you are caught. Once you manage to collect all three pieces, you then have to return to your home base in a limited amount of time so that the spaceship hopefully comes back and picks you up. Moving around decreases your health, but pieces belonging to Reese can be picked up and used to restore some of that health. E.T. is one of the few Atari 2600 games to actually have a title screen, and the title screen in this game is good enough. E.T. is drawn the way it should, and Howard Scott Warshaw, the game's programmer, provided an excellent rendition of the theme. Although the graphics are blocky, this is what Atari's games look like back then, and the sound effect heard when E.T. beams down in his spaceship sounds futuristic. You can press the fire button while moving the joystick left or right to make E.T. scurry across the screen if his enemies are on his tail.

The Bad

After developing two excellent games, namely Raiders of the Lost Ark and Yar's Revenge, HSW should be ashamed of himself for creating a game so mediocre it was partly responsible for the video game crash of 1983. Sure, much of the game is spent falling down pits to collect the necessary pieces, but falling into these pits every five seconds gets tiresome after a while. When I played this game, I knew how to levitate out but, more often than not, I moved to get out of the way only to fall back in again.

I didn't fully manage to complete my objective, mainly because I was too busy trying to avoid the bad guys. Even if I did complete it, I went back to the home base, only to discover that the spaceship is not there. When you arrive at your home base, you're supposed to call out for your spaceship. I didn't have any time to do that, however, since the bad guys can even chase you on the home screen. Furthermore, I thought I could evade them by deliberately falling down pits, but they were just waiting for me to get out and steal whatever it is I'm carrying.

The Bottom Line

Anyone can argue that E.T. is a game aimed squarely at kids, but you need to ask yourself: would a kid spend at least five minutes of their time falling down pits when they could be doing something constructive? In my opinion, the gameplay stinks. Nearly half of the game is spent falling down pits and dealing with two guys that are difficult to evade. HSW had just six weeks to complete the game, but had he been given more it wouldn't be as crap as it is now.