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Have a Very “E.T.” Christmas

Games based on movies have a rep for being execrable, and no other game has ever lived up to that generality quite as well as E.T. for the Atari 2600.

The gameplay of E.T. is exactly like the movie: Our plucky extraterrestrial protagonist wanders blindly around, falling into garbage pits, which he can only get out of by extending his neck and levitating. (I’m sure you remember just the scene from the film.) But it’s not simply the quality that makes E.T. a bad game; it also bankrupted Atari—which paid far too much for the license—and led to the famous video game crash of 1983. Millions of unsold copies now rot in a New Mexican landfill.

Of course, in 1983, no one knew how awful E.T. the game would prove. Indeed, everyone predicted a major Christmas rush for it. As to those gullible parents who did buy the title for their more discerning children, you can blame their bamboozlement on this rather charming advertisement featuring Spielberg’s beloved alien as Santa Claus. Enjoy, and Merry Christmas!

E.T. Christmas Commercial [YouTube]

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