E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial

aka: E.T. The Game
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(prices updated 10/1 4:13 PM )

Description official description

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial is a licensed adventure game, based on the movie. The adventure takes place on several screens with pits scattered about. The object of the game is to find pieces of E.T.'s phone. Once all pieces are found, E.T. calls home and the spaceship arrives to pick him up. E.T. can collect Reese's Pieces scattered around in order to regain energy which is constantly depleted with time.

The phone pieces are in some of the pits, and E.T. must jump in to get them; sometimes there's also a dead flower in the pit which provides extra points if brought back to life. Once E.T. has done his business in the pit, to get out he must levitate his way out, though he must watch out not to fall into the pit again after leaving.

Evil scientists and agents wander around the area, trying to capture E.T. and steal the parts he's carrying.

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Credits (Atari 2600 version)

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Average score: 41% (based on 16 ratings)


Average score: 1.3 out of 5 (based on 127 ratings with 10 reviews)

Oh hell, no! They did this to Batman and Chuck Norris, but why E.T. ?

The Good
Hmmm, what did I like about this game? Well, the title screen seems slightly decent with it's pixelated rendition of E.T. But still, that can't stop me saying how frustrated and disappointed I was at the time.

The Bad
Before I get onto the bad, I have to let you know how excited I felt when they were announcing a game based off that brilliant movie. After seeing that movie in theatres, it was a lifetime favourite of mine. Some time later, I hear that they released a game of E.T. and I couldn't sleep for many nights (well, I mean one but, yeah). As soon as I get the game, I'm thrilled because I believed I was gonna have a blast, but enough talk, let's talk about the flaws about this garbage!

As soon as I get past the title screen, I see E.T. landing on earth in a pint-sized spaceship. Now I believe he was stranded on Earth as the other aliens seemed to forget him, so far, the game hasn't followed the film too much here, but i'll let it slip. The game doesn't give you any instruction in what to do but you have to find all the parts of a phone in order to "phone home". Who in the right mind would just break a perfectly useful mobile phone and scatter the pieces around the area in order to make our job even harder? Now, you'd think that we've got it all sorted right, NO! The confusion has just begun! You have to wander through many different places and collect stuff while trying to withstand a time limit as well. Anyway, back to the phone, to collect a some of the parts, you have to fall into these random holes in the ground and collect the phone part. In order to get out, you have to raise E.T.'s neck to fly (remember that from the movie?). There's just so much crap in this game, I could spend all day writing about the bad. But, you know what, I won't. Onto the bottom line!

The Bottom Line
Whoever made this game better phone home, because if I find him, I'm gonna force him to play this game so that he can know how much misery he has caused me. As a kid, I thought that the game was playable for five minutes. I'm starting to wish that I put my copy of the game in the Atari landfill of September 1983. yes, it's really that bad and you don't want to play it! I may've forgotten a few minor points about the game, because I haven't played it for over 20 years.

Atari 2600 · by Arejarn (7291) · 2008

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.

Atari 2600 · by Katakis | カタキス (43051) · 2014

Move your E.T. around the screens looking for phone parts.

The Good
E.T. was a hit movie. There was great potential in a game where you get to play E.T. and in the grand old adventure style had to run around town looking for the missing pieces to your phone so you can call home. Avoiding the FBI and the Scientist. Look for Elliott to help you with Reeses Pieces. There was a cool title screen and a recognizable E.T. Tune playing. But what I liked about the game was what it was supposed to be. Now it's only fun to go back and play as a bad game.

The Bad
All the excitement was about what the game was "Supposed" to be like. It's hard to navigate around without falling into holes and tricky getting out of them. But that is where some of the parts are hidden. The concept was great but due to the frills of the marketing needs there was little room for gameplay. The music and title screen used up 1/3 of the cartridge space. It was very disappointing and having bought it new made me think twice about buying other games.

The Bottom Line
Millions of dollars spent on the license. Too much spent on marketing. Too many limitations placed on the programmer. You control E.T. walking around different screens that represent your town. Trying to find the pieces of you phone so you can call home and get picked up by your ship. You have a limited amount of energy. Most of this is used to Levitate which you need to do to get out of holes. Bugs in the program make getting out of the holes tricky and you waste a lot of energy doing this. You have two bad guys to avoid. Find all the pieces, go to the landing zone, call home. Win game.

Atari 2600 · by gametrader (208) · 2003

[ View all 10 player reviews ]


Subject By Date
The legend was true after all: buried copies found chirinea (47058) Apr 27th, 2014



Howard Scott Warsaw, the programmer of E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, only had six weeks from July 23, 1982 to program the game and ready it for a September 1 release date.

Movies made about the game

  • Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie was a science fiction comedy movie dealing with this game as the main focal point. The movie features a review by the Angry Video Game Nerd: (James Rolfe) of the actual game.
  • Atari: Game Over was a documentary where a landfill in Alamogordo, New Mexico is excavated to find out if the rumors of a mass burial of unsold video game cartridges, consoles, and computers was true. The documentary also deals with the video game crash of 1983, and features an interview with Howard Scott Warshaw.


Atari produced 5 million E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial cartridges. Most of the units that were sold were returned, and eventually Atari dumped the millions of useless copies still on hand into a New Mexico landfill.

On the 1st of December 1982, after it became clear that Atari would never sell the six million cartridges it had manufactured, executives announced that they were cutting their '82 revenue forecasts from a 50% increase over '81 levels to a meager 15%. In the end, the price of Warner (owners of Atari) stock dropped almost a third from 52 to 35. It was so bad Atari President Ray Kassar unloaded 5000 of his shares before announcing the cuts to the public.


  • FLUX
    • Issue #4 - #1 Worst Video Game of All-Time
  • Gamers Europe
    • January 2005 - Worst Game Ever Produced On Any Platform Nominee
  • GameSpy
    • December 31, 2002 - #7 on the "Top Ten Shameful Games" list ( "Lots of people bought it at first, but gradually the word spread that the gameplay consisted mainly of E.T. falling into an endless series of pits, and the game was much too frustrating for the young kids for whom it was intended. The game is sometimes accused (not altogether without justification) of single-handedly causing the "crash" of the video games market in the mid-'80s.")
  • GameTrailers
    • November 17, 2006 - #2 Worst Videogame
  • PC World
    • October 23, 2006 - #1 Worst Game of All Time ("Everyone I spoke to who singled out particular gripes mentioned the pits that the player, as E.T., fell into and would then have to slowly levitate out of, which led to horrendously monotonous game play.")

Information also contributed by Big John WV, CaptainCanuck, Scaryfun and Sciere

Related Games

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial: Interplanetary Mission
Released 2001 on PlayStation, Windows
E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial
Released 2007 on J2ME
E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial Remake
Released 2016 on Windows
E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial: Digital Companion
Released 2001 on Game Boy Color
E.T.: Phone Home Adventure
Released 2002 on Windows
Extra Terrestrial
Released 1982 on TRS-80
Released 1983 on Commodore 64

Related Sites +

  • Fixing E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial for the Atari 2600
    A serious effort to analyse and correct the bugs in the game, some 30 years after the release, complete with ROM code modifications for the NTSC version.
  • Matt Chat 70
    Video interview with Howard Scott Warshaw about the development of <i>Yars' Revenge</i> and <i>E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial</i>

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by wanax.

Additional contributors: Gerauchertes, Alaka, CubbyKatz, Patrick Bregger, Rwolf.

Game added April 13th, 2003. Last modified September 19th, 2023.