This game always intrigued me, and I never understood the mechanics. A few days ago, I read the manual and beat the game with a couple hours. It's a very early roguelike with plenty of great qualities and features.
I watched E.T. as a kid, and I guess I liked it okay but I'm not a fan. I like this game way more than the movie.
These programmers do an amazing job. I want to be clear that the game isn't just "okay," that it's actually amazing. If you look around Atari blogs, the general consensus is that "it wasn't that bad actually," or the focus in own the video game "crash." Or it's buggy, or whatever. Plenty of games have bugs/glitches: gamers love these things most of the time. However, I liked the colors, collision, and most of the bugs. The only feature I wanted was to fix the bug that automatically dumped you into a hole when moving east from the city and west from the forest. They made it so easy to just hex edit the change I wanted and nothing else. They made reading about romhacking the game very interesting. I couldn't stop reading the posts, just to get some insight in asm, atari hacking, and the game. Definitely a must read, even if you don't really give a shit about E.T.
Then, after playing some more I realized that the "bug" only makes the game a little more challenging and might have even been intended.
So now I'm back to playing the original game.
If you want to get real into it, you have to start reading Random Terrain's posts on the game...
Level 4 in the original Legend of Zelda is, in my opinion, a reference to E.T. (which I suspect Miyamoto played and enjoyed). It's always been clear than Zelda was heavily inspired by Adventure, so this makes some sense (i.e. the devs were playing every adventure console game they could get their hands on). Thinking about this some more, even the underground screens that give you items in Zelda are a lot like the pits in E.T... Zelda's warp whistle is also similar to the warp arrows. Both heros are green and explore forests, fields, and ancient buildings. Both feature secrets everywhere (a feature more like Rogue than Adventure). Nintendo has never been about randomization, probably because they know it creates games that can be played forever. Nintendo wants you to keep buying the re-hashes instead of selling you the formula.