A game that has gone down in the annals of history as not only one of the worst games ever made, but also one of the worst commercial failures of all time. Also with the recent confirmation of the urban legend of there being hundreds of thousands of copies of the game buried in a New Mexico landfill, the Atari 2600 version of E.T. from 1982 is deservedly a legend of retro gaming.
The game's terrible graphics (even for the Atari 2600) and bizarre choices of colours, along with the virtually impossible game play, nearly crippled Atari as a business. The game was rushed out as a tie-in the the biggest blockbuster of that summer, to have it on the shelves for Christmas. The game was developed in only 5 weeks. Expecting huge sales, Atari manufactured something like 5 million cartridges. Only around 1.5 million of which actually sold. Hence the unsold cartridges being dumped in the landfill in New Mexico.
Despite the horrendous nature of the game, it was one of the biggest sellers of the year and one of the biggest sellers ever for Atari. However as soon as people loaded up the game, they bore witness to the true awfulness of what they had purchased. As E.T. kept repeatedly falling into pits, players soon realised that a pit is exactly where the game belonged. A big pit, somewhere in a New Mexico desert to be exact.
Weird Retro Fact: Due for release any time soon is documentary Atari: Game Over, which features the landfill. Unfortunately in an ironic twist of fate, it will only be available to Xbox owners.