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E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

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E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial is a video game developed and published by Atari for the Atari 2600. It is based off the famous movie of the same name. The goal of the game is to guide the titular protagonist through various screens to collect three pieces of an interplanetary telephone that allows him to call his home planet.

With few exceptions, critics and video game enthusiasts feel that it was a poorly produced and rushed game that Atari thought would achieve high sales figures based on brand loyalty to the names of Atari and E.T.. Warshaw designed the game to be an innovative adaptation of the film. Negotiations to secure the rights to make the game ended in later July 1982, giving Warshaw only five weeks to develop the game in time for the 1982 Christmas holiday season.

E.T. is often viewed as one of the biggest commercial failures in video gaming history, as well as one of the worst video games released. The game is frequently cited as a contributing factor to Atari's massive financial losses during 1983 and 1984, and a glut of unsold copies of the game contributed to the video game industry crisis of 1983. As a result of overproduction and returns, hundreds of thousands of unsold cartridges were buried in a New Mexico landfill. Contents


E.T. meets Elliot in a field of wells. Reese's Pieces are scattered throughout the world and are represented by dark dots.

E.T. is an adventure game in which players control an alien (E.T.) from a top-down perspective The objective of the game is to collect three pieces of an interplanetary telephone. The pieces are found scattered randomly throughout various pits (also referred to as wells). The player is provided with an on-screen energy bar, which decreases as time passes. To prevent this, the player can collect Reese's Pieces, which are used to restore the energy of the character; when enough are collected, the player can call Elliot to obtain a piece of the telephone. After the phone pieces have been collected, the player must guide the character to a "call-ship" area, which allows him to call his home planet. When the call is made, an interplanetary spaceship appears on-screen, and the player must reach the spaceship in a given time limit. Once the spaceship is reached, the game starts over, with the same difficulty level, while changing the location of the telephone pieces. The score obtained during the round is carried over to the next iteration. The game ends when the energy bar depletes, or the player decides to quit.[1]

The game is divided into six environments, each representing a different setting from the film. To accomplish the objective of the game, the player must guide E.T into the wells. Once all items found in a well are collected, the player must levitate E.T. out.[2] An icon at the top of each screen represents the current area, each area enabling the player to perform different actions. Antagonists include a scientist who takes E.T. for observation and an FBI agent that chases the alien to confiscate one of the collected telephone pieces.[1] The game offers diverse difficulty settings that affect the number and speed of humans present, and the conditions needed to accomplish the objective. [edit] Development

E.T. is a video game adaptation of Steven Spielberg's 1982 film E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. Development was handled by Atari employee Howard Scott Warshaw.[3][4] The process began in July 1982 and was completed before the end of the year. Total production costs were estimated to be US$125 million.[4] Following the commercial success of the film in June 1982, Steve Ross, chief executive officer (CEO) of Atari's parent company Warner Communications, entered talks with Steven Spielberg and Universal Pictures to purchase rights to produce a video game based on the film. In late July, Warner announced that it had acquired the exclusive worldwide rights to market coin-operated and console games based on the movie.[5] Although the exact details of the transaction were not disclosed in the announcement, it was widely reported that Atari had paid US$20–25 million for the rights, a high figure for video game licensing at the time.[4][6][7][8] When asked by Ross what he thought about making an E.T.-based video game, Atari CEO Ray Kassar replied, "I think it's a dumb idea. We've never really made an action game out of a movie."[7] An arcade game based on the E.T. property had also been planned, but this was deemed to be impossible given the short deadline.[9]

After negotiations were completed, Kassar called Warshaw on July 27, 1982 to offer him development duties for the video game.[10] Kassar informed him that Spielberg asked for Warshaw specifically and that development needed to be completed by September 1st to meet a production schedule for the Christmas holiday. Though Warshaw had spent over a year working on consecutive development schedules for games (seven months working on Yars' Revenge and then six months on Raiders of the Lost Ark), he accepted the offer based on the challenge of completing a game in such a short time and Spielberg's request.[9][10] Warshaw considered it an opportunity to develop an innovative Atari 2600 game based on a movie he enjoyed.[10] Kassar reportedly offered Warshaw US$200,000 and an all-expenses-paid vacation to Hawaii in compensation.[9] Kassar then told him to arrive at the San José Airport a few days later to have a meeting with Spielberg.[10]

Warshaw used those days to design the structure of the game and segmented the concept into four ideas: world, goal, path to achieve the goal, and obstacles. He envisioned a three dimensional cube world as the setting and adapted part of the film's plot, E.T. phoning home, as the goal. Warshaw then conceived that E.T. would need to assemble a special phone to call his ship and arrive at a special landing site to achieve this goal. He considered obstacles as an element that would determine the success of a game, and experienced difficulties when taking into account the time constraints and technical limitations of the console. Inspired by the movie, adults were implemented as antagonists that would chase the alien. Feeling more adversity was needed, Warshaw included a time limit for players to accomplish the goal. Pits were devised as an element to hide the pieces of the phone as well as expand the game's world.[10]

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