The Total Recall

The Extra Terrestrial

Artist touch: Say what you want about the game but this is great artwork here. It does a amazing job of fooling the public into thinking this is one epic title. Cover art rating: 9/10
Month it won: December 2005

(Atari, 1982)
Special note: Atari originally paid 25 million dollars for the rights to do this license game.

Introduction and Story:

It sounded like a match made in heaven! Why not take one of the hottest Hollywood movies of all time and make a video game out of it, eh? Since the E.T. movie was making millions at the theaters in 1982, the Atari corporation had the grand idea to release the official game that same year. Now before you get excited about having one of the biggest movies ever on the Atari 2600 you should just play it first and see why it would become one of the biggest (if not the biggest) duds in gaming history.

If you haven't seen the movie here's the story. A group of friendly aliens manage to land on earth but quickly try to escape when they get spotted by the locate natives. In the haste one of them couldn't make it back to the space ship in time and was forced to stay on this foreign world. This alien that was left behind is simply known as E.T. (The Extraterrestrial). In the game you are E.T. himself and must do whatever it takes to get back home. Not exactly a great story line for a action packed video game but maybe they were able to pull it off anyway, right?

Controls and Game Play:


E.T. is just this tiny, home sick 3 foot creature so he isn't very powerful (again, perfect for a video game) so the game here can only be played defensively. To get the little guy home you need to find parts to an intergalactic telephone but our poor hero is constantly being hunted down by pesky government agents and scientists (depending on the difficulty setting), and to make matters worse E.T. loses health just from walking around. Once you use up all your limited 9,999 health points it's game over depending on how many lives you have left. Moving around E.T. in four directions is easy for the most part but why on earth is he so freaking slow? He's a sitting duck out there in this mean and very blocky universe! You can make him run much faster by holding down the action button but this cost even energy so it's a huge trade off plus it's easier to fall in another pit as well.

That moves me to one the game's biggest problems: perhaps the biggest problem with the game is it is littered with several hundred of these highly annoying deep pits. If you are going to play this game for long period of time (is anybody that brave?) you better get use to the sight of these boring pits because they are all over the place and it's easy just to fall into one purely by accident. They also take more of your precise energy just to get out of them too. E.T. is sure in one hard to play game here but at least he is getting help from a friendly human boy named Elliot. Elliot can heal E.T. or find lost phone parts if you collect enough candy but this only prolongs the game even further so why even bother? ET can also do other special moves like teleports and repel enemies once the right icon appears at the top of the screen but the problem is waiting for these icons to show up when you need them.

Graphics and Sounds:

E.T really fools the player into thinking it's a good game thanks to some decent graphics and sounds early on. If you are a big fan of the movie the title screen itself has a nice but monotone digital picture of the little dude himself plus there is even a bit of the movie theme music here too for a few quick seconds. Sadly, the game quickly goes downhill because everything else looks very bland with overly blocky environments and those ugly repetitious pits which seem to be all over the place and there are only a few colours per background too. I liked the sound E.T. makes when coming out of a pit but all the other sound effects were just really annoying especially after playing for awhile and you can forget about any background music.

The Bottomline:

E.T. should have been that one big game that would revitalize the then aging Atari 2600 back into the spotlight once again but it was clear in the end that the game was under too much pressure to do well and it released way too early. The game not only comes with ugly graphics and basic sound effects that even were outdated for 1982, but the quest is filled with some of the cheapest most tedious game play you could possibly imagine. Sure, I played worse games out there but that doesn't stop it from being one very confusing mess. E.T. was a shining example what was wrong with the gaming world at that time and it is no wonder the title is blamed for the collapse of the entire video game industry during the early 1980's (for more info on this great crash click here). If you are looking for the ultimate gag gift for that enemy in your life, E.T. here is worse then a lump of coal.


overall rating: 41/100

Find this game on eBay here!

For 1 player only
graphics: 2/10
sound: 2/10
gameplay: 3/10
replay: 0/10

(Ryan Genno) 2005

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