There has been a long history of terrible video games based on film licences. However, there was a video game adaptation that not only collapsed Atari, but threatened to end the video game industry before it took off. In 1982, Atari was tasked with creating the video game adaptation of Stephen Spielberg’s E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. They agreed to have it ready for a holiday release that same year. The rumors are that Atari coded the game in just five weeks! The film was a smash hit and the video game… was barely even functional.
Director/Writer Zak Penn (The Incredible Hulk) investigates what happened in the aftermath of the colossal failure of the E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial video game. There have long been urban legends, most of which actually turned out to be true, about what Atari did with all the unsold and returned copies of the video game. The biggest legend being that they literally dumped the unused cartridges (yes kids, videogames were on cartridges…) into a pit in the New Mexico desert, in a nuclear test site. Sound too wild to be true? The best stories always are… Check out the trailer:
This history of the game seems interesting. However, documentaries such as these, are of even more value because they give you a snap-shot of a historical moment. This was a crucial point in the development of video games. Atari began it’s decline soon after and a couple of years later Nintendo hit the scene. The next stage of video game history was set in motion. It should be educational to see how it all unfolded.
Atari: Game Over will be available over Xbox this fall.