Atari 2600 Friday’s #1 – E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
I finally got myself an Atari 2600, so now I can play the 70 some games I’ve acquired. On that note, I thought I should do something to better understand some of these games. Without any manuals it’s hard to know what kind of controller to use in which port or what to even do in some of these games. So here we go, I’m going to start Atari Friday’s, where I look at one game, play it for awhile and then come here and write down my thoughts on it. So look forward to this for awhile until I get through what I have at least, and then it will be a ‘review as a buy’ sort of deal. I may even move onto other consoles at some point.
What better way to kick this off is there than one of the games I actually know something about. The very game I am collecting cartridges of and want to make my gaming name off of. That’s right, I already own eight carts of this game and am always looking for more. If you’ve been ignoring the titles of my posts, and shame on you if you are, then you will be surprised to find out I’m talking about none other than ET. Yes, that very same ET that most people incorrectly label the worst video game ever. ET is nowhere near as bad as most people make it out to be. It is a finished game, albeit rushed through development. It is playable, and beatable for those who know how to play the game which really isn’t even that hard. You can beat ET in a matter of five to ten minutes. There are many other games like Superman 64 which better deserve the ‘Worst Game Ever’ label for beating literally unbeatable. I’m here to talk about ET though, so lets get started.
The Story: I’d say watch the movie, but that won’t really help you, which is the main reason this game has such a bad reputation. The game is a very loose version of ET being stuck on Earth and having to call the mother ship for a ride home.
From the Manual: “What kind of crazy planet is this, anyway? We came here to conduct a simple study of primitive planets, and look what happened! These…things…came and scared away my friends. Before I knew it, all my friends boarded our lightship and flew home. What do I do now? The only one I can trust is that nice little alien– Ellleeott. He gives me those tasty energy pills (What did he call them? Reeessseess Peeesssesss?) But these other aliens! Every time I get ready to assemble my transgalactic communicatior, they come and take me away. The one with the white coat sticks that temperature measuring device in my mouth (I wonder why he was so upset when it melted?), and the other one in the trench coat keeps muttering those strange sounds (Naaashaaannaall Seeeccuuuureeetteee?) I just want to go home! I hope Elllleeott and I can assemble all the pieces of my communicator before my energy runs out. Oh, oh. Here come those crazy aliens again. Help me, Elllleeott! Help me get home!”
From the Box: “Ouch! E.T. is lost on Earth and wants to get home. Help him build an interplanetary telephone to call for assistance before his energy runs out. But beware of government agents and curious scientists who will sap E.T.’s precious energy before he reaches his goal.”
The Game Play: First, how do we even play ET. Well, it’s really simple. You play as ET, who is stuck on Earth, trying to recover the parts to his interplanetary phone so he can call his mother ship to come and retrieve him. These pieces are hidden in the ‘pits’ ET falls into. Actions like levitating out of the pit cost energy, which when it runs out Eliot will come revive you to 1500 energy a couple times before game over.. Energy can be replenished by collecting ‘Reese’s Pieces’, I kid you not those little dots you collect on the ground really are Reese’s Pieces. You will also be chased down regularly by government agents who will steal the phone parts if they catch you, and scientists who drag you around. Once all the phone parts are collected, you have to find the spot where they can be used to call the mother ship. After this has been done, you have a set amount of time to reach the spot where the ship arrives so ET can go home.
There are various screens that all revolve around a cube shape. The field where you start (and end the game) is at the top. The city is at the bottom, and the sides are all the fields with the pits. on some of the screens are icons at specific spots that let you do certain tasks like call the ship, however ET can also teleport between screens which is useful for getting away from the government agent hunting you down. I already mentioned the Icons on the screens, but let me go into what they do. The main icons are the question mark which lights up which pit the phone part is in, the roman numeral III which sends the humans away, a donuts which is where you eat the Reese’s to regain energy, and a human shouting to call Elliot. There is also the Space Invader alien where you phone the mother ship and the square in the forest which is the landing site.
The Controls: Up, left, right, down, diagonal movement. Red button levitates in pits, lets you run on map, and activates the icons on the various screens.
Post Review: I have finally beaten ET after about 4 tries. I will admit it is a pain sometimes to get out of the pits and not fall back in immediately. For some reason I cannot change game modes, so I was stuck on game mode 1, which is the most annoying because you have both the government agent and the scientist aggravating you. However after a few tries I was able to scout out all the icon locations. Using this scouting I was able to locate everything before grabbing it so the humans could not take my things away while searching for everything else. I lost a few phone parts waiting for the ship to come, but once the call is placed all you have to do is wait on the landing spot for the ship to come. It can be quite aggravating at times, but a lot of older games are this way, back when games were hard and didn’t hold your hand all the way through. See how easy this all sounds. The controls work, and the game does not have any major glitches. Sure it’s short, and yes it was rushed through development, it may not be the best game ever, but it really is far from the worst. My only wish is for people to stop calling it the worst game ever made, it clearly is not.
The High Score: Game Mode 1 with a score of 3034.