Microsoft digs up E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

The game may have been made by Atari, but Microsoft’s Xbox Entertainment Studios successfully dug up what many consider the worst video game ever made, “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial,” in a New Mexico landfill.

The game’s cartridges were found in Alamogordo on Saturday, as part of an attempt to discover whether a long-standing urban myth that Atari buried millions of copies of the poor-selling and critically maligned game was true. The dig was recorded as part of a new documentary series Xbox is producing with Fuel Entertainment and Lightbox called “Signal to Noise” that will stream on Xbox Live this year. “Atari: Game Over” will be the first episode of the series.

While the game sold more than 1 million copies, largely due to its tie-in to Steven Spielberg’s 1983 movie, the “E.T.” game was rushed to market in six weeks and proved one of the biggest duds of the games biz.

Microsoft’s Larry Hryb, also known by his gamer tag Major Nelson, is the director of programming for Xbox Live and was on hand to tweet an image of one of the cartridges found on in New Mexico:

 
In December, Fuel and garbage contractor Joe Lewandowski acquired exclusive rights to excavate the Alamogordo landfill that closed in 1986.

The crew excavating the landfill on Saturday first found an Atari 2600 joystick, before hitting paydirt with the “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” cartridge, a box and instruction manual.

Those at the site also discovered unsold cartridges of “Centipede,” “Space Invaders” and “Asteroids.”

Simon Chinn (“Searching for Sugar Man” and “Man On a Wire”) is executive producing “Atari: Game Over” with Jonathan Chinn (FX’s “30 Days” and PBS’s “American High”) through their Lightbox shingle.

Writer-director Zak Penn (“X-Men: The Last Stand,” the upcoming “The Karate Kid 2″) is helming the “Atari: Game Over” episode.

“For anybody who doubted, there’s a whole heck of a lot of games down there,” Penn said from the dig as hundreds of onlookers watched. “We just saw them.”

(From top to bottom: Zak Penn and Jonathan Chinn in Alamogordo, New Mexico at the “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” dig).

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