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E.T. Review From The Video Game Update Newsletter

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#1 Random Terrain OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon May 23, 2016 12:45 PM

Below is an E.T. review from the December 1982 issue of The Video Game Update newsletter:

E.T. THE EXTRATERRESTRIAL (*** / ***) makes it an absolute bonanza for lovers of adventure games who own an Atari 2600-- three brand new adventure games in such a short period of time! In this game, you must help E.T. find the 3 pieces of his interplanetary telephone, call his ship, and guide him to the landing pad in time to be rescued. In the easiest of the 3 game variations, the only human present is Elliott, rendered in blue jeans and striped T-shirt. The most difficult variation adds an FBI agent and a scientist. The game begins with a picture of E.T. and the musical theme from the movie—push the joystick button, and E.T. arrives in his space ship. You control E.T. as he wanders over the surface of the planet, picking up Reese's Pieces for extra energy, avoiding the FBI agent and scientist (if present in the variation you're playing), and searching for pieces of his phone. Periodically, E.T. falls into a well, and he must use his powers of levitation to get out. Throughout the game, a special information strip at the top of the screen keeps you informed of how many phone pieces have been found and the nature of the special areas E.T. enters. For example, E.T. must be in special zones to call Elliott, call his ship, eat candy pieces, and several other functions. This is not nearly as involved as adventure games such as RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK or SWORDQUEST EARTHWORLD, but it's an enjoyable quest nonetheless. The presence of a simple game variation makes it suitable even for small children.
Recommended (retail $39.95)
*** — GOOD
** — FAIR
* — POOR

First set of stars - Quality of Graphics
Second set of stars - Quality of Play Action



This Raiders of the Lost Ark review was above the one for E.T.:


RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (***/****) is still another superb adventure game from Atari, coming at the point when most VCS adventurers are still deeply involved in the mysteries of SWORDQUEST EARTHWORLD. There's hardly an adventure lover who won't want to leave (temporarily) the quest for the Sword of Ultimate Sorcery to travel with Indiana Jones to search for the fabled Lost Ark of the covenant in Egypt. The graphics are less dazzling in this game than in EARTHWORLD, but they're quite good nonetheless. The figure representing Indiana Jones isn't exactly a Harrison Ford look-alike, but it's a definite improvement over moving a cursor through the game. The game opens with Indy perched atop a pedestal inside the Well of the Souls. An electronic rendition of the theme from the movie, RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK plays as the Ark of the covenant makes a brief appearance at the top of your TV screen. Take a good look, because that's the last you'll see of the Ark for some time! You'll need two joysticks for this game, one to control Indy's movements and his use of various objects, the other to select or drop objects from your inventory. (You can carry up to six objects at a time.) The game itself offers a wealth of locations and situations inhabited by all kinds of creatures. There are Sheiks in the Marketplace, Spiders and Tsetse Flies in the Spider Room, a black-cloaked Thief in the Valley of Poison, and a Raving Lunatic at the Black Market, among others. Objects Indy will find and use include a Whip, Revolver, Coins, a Magic Flute that plays the snake charmer's song to keep the snakes away, a Shovel, Key, Ankh, Chai, Hourglass, Parachute, Grenade, and more. To make things more interesting, Atari's designers have caused the location of the Ark (in the Well of Souls) to be placed randomly among the Mesas, so it won't always be found in the same location on repeated plays. There are also a few goodies hidden in the program, such as a special signature that will appear on the screen as a reward for especially high scorers. A few more hints than usual for adventure games are to be found in the instruction book, but they're set aside in a separate section—refer to them only if you wish. We like this one a lot. It's an involving game that will keep you busy for many hours of exciting adventuring.
Recommended, (retail $37.95)

#2 moycon OFFLINE  



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Posted Mon May 23, 2016 10:47 PM

I got the game the year it came out for Christmas. Funny story, I remember getting 5 Atari games that year, the most I had ever received at one time. We had moved from Ohio to Virginia because my moms work moved there. All my relatives back home mailed us Christmas gifts that year so I had 3 or 4 very similar wrapped gifts under the tree for weeks before Christmas. ("Santa" brought me another 1 or 2 later) Needless to say I carefully opened, played, and rewrapped each one several times before the big day. I can't remember any of the other titles except for Space Jockey. E.T. probably got the most attention. I loved the flick and the game was just very interesting and different than the usual survive as long as you can type game. The music and title screen was very impressive to me also. To this day it's one of my favorite games.

#3 Skylark68 OFFLINE  



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Posted Tue May 24, 2016 12:04 PM

My parents picked this one up for me pre-crash. I don't know why they did, as I had seen the film with my grandmother but wasn't particularly enthusiastic about it. Guess all parents just think whatever the current children's fad is, their kid will enjoy it. I actually enjoyed the game though, I thought it was challenging and fun. I didn't mind the random falling into the wells when you changed screens. I thought it was part of the challenge but it wasn't any worse than some of those challenges in Swordquest Earthworld (I won't talk about the ones in Fireworld). Even as a really young kid the game wasn't impossible to beat which was neat and rare for an Atari game (since most were just points based). I do have to admit though that I really enjoyed Raiders of the Lost Ark much more which I received around the same time period.

#4 moycon OFFLINE  



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Posted Tue May 24, 2016 12:12 PM

I loved Raider as well. A friend of mine and I spent an entire weekend beating that game, when we went to bed we just left the Atari on all night so we could pick up where we left off. I'll agree it was even better than E.T. I think my biggest gripe was I always felt E.T. needed more screens. 

#5 ubersaurus OFFLINE  



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Posted Tue May 24, 2016 2:32 PM

It's always nice to know that my childhood enjoyment of ET was not as erroneous as the internet would have one believe.

#6 Random Terrain OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue May 24, 2016 3:20 PM

I put their review of Raiders of the Lost Ark in the first post.

#7 Tony The 2600 OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue May 24, 2016 4:23 PM

It's always nice to know that my childhood enjoyment of ET was not as erroneous as the internet would have one believe.

 Same, E.T was one my favorite games and i never knew or heard anything about it being a "bad" game until mid 2000's on the internet. All it takes is one guy to light the fire then it turns into a raging inferno :-o

Edited by Tony The 2600, Tue May 24, 2016 4:26 PM.

#8 DragonFire OFFLINE  


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Posted Tue May 24, 2016 8:14 PM

Has everyone seen Atari: Game Over? It's a fun, short documentary about the excavation of the Alamogordo dump site, the origins of the myth that E.T. caused the video game crash, and Atari in general. It features a lot of footage of Howard Scott Warshaw talking about his experiences at Atari and the creation of E.T.

It's available on Netflix, Hulu, Xbox One (as a free app), and YouTube if you don't mind Spanish subtitles. I never thought E.T. was a bad game but watching the documentary gave me a new-found admiration for Warshaw and E.T.

It won't tell you much that you don't know, but it's fun to hear the perspectives of the people involved and watch footage of the Atari dump site excavation. 

#9 save2600 OFFLINE  



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Posted Tue Jan 10, 2017 4:18 PM

Another kid enjoying E.T. BITD. And what's that I see waiting to be played next? Why Pac-Man of course!  Accidentally stumbled across this pic surfing the interwebs just now.   :lol:



#10 hizzy OFFLINE  



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Posted Tue Jan 10, 2017 5:48 PM

Loved me some ET. A few more screens would have been great. I wish someone could do a hack & expand the game.

#11 Stephen OFFLINE  



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Posted Tue Jan 10, 2017 6:21 PM

I loved ET, bought it when it was new, and had no problem finishing it many times.  I don't get all the criticism.  Pacman - now that we knew was shit from day one.

#12 ls650 OFFLINE  



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Posted Tue Jan 10, 2017 6:38 PM

Obviously that journalist was paid off!!

#13 karokoenig OFFLINE  


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Posted Wed Jan 11, 2017 12:17 PM

It's always nice to know that my childhood enjoyment of ET was not as erroneous as the internet would have one believe.



#14 sn8k OFFLINE  


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Posted Wed Jan 11, 2017 10:34 PM

I love both. Raiders of the Lost Ark was incredible

#15 Rom Collector OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 12, 2017 6:23 PM

I liked E.T., loved Raiders, hated Earthworld.

Atari implied it was an Adventure type game. Having loved Adventure, I shelled out about 30 or 40 bucks, (a lot of dough for a young teen) Got it home, hated it, and felt ripped off. I'm still pissed about it. Just about my only bad memory from my early Atari days.

#16 Gamemoose OFFLINE  



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Posted Mon Jan 16, 2017 2:21 PM

My folks rented E.T. back in the day and I thought it was good. Hard with the FBI and scientist chasing you that got me frustrated but in the end I had fun. The manual is a must in order to play and thankfully Omni Video sent the manual along with the cart.

Raiders I got years later for Christmas and it drove me nuts due to no manual. I had no clue how to play so I shelved it. Months later I came across issues of Joystik at the library and lo and behold, an issue had a walk through. Two joysticks?! Never thought to try that.

Even with a road map on what to do, the game was a challenge.

#17 zzip OFFLINE  


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Posted Fri Jan 20, 2017 10:06 AM

I got ET when it came out. I enjoyed it. Most of the criticism it gets now don't even makes sense to me.

It's playable, it's winnable. It doesn't have terrible graphics, they are actually quite decent for the 2600. It follows the movie plot.

If you think about it, gameplay is similar to Haunted House-- find the three pieces to the object and escape while avoiding the baddies. You don't see people hating on Haunted House. ET gameplay was deeper than that game too.

Yes it had annoyences-- it was too easy to fall into pits. But how many other games had annoyences too?

ET was certainly not the best game, but it was far from the worst. It only has that reputation because it couldn't meet the ridiculous sales expectations Atari had-- the early 80s videogame craze was petering out by that point.

Edited by zzip, Fri Jan 20, 2017 10:07 AM.

#18 BillLoguidice OFFLINE  



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Posted Fri Jan 20, 2017 11:33 AM

First time I'm seeing the original poster's post. Funny how those "reviews" read like press releases.

#19 Rom Collector OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jan 20, 2017 4:39 PM

E.T. is an easy fall guy, for all of Atari's bad decisions.

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