ET 'Urban Legend' Discovered To Be True
It has been called the worst game ever made.
ET - based on the hit movie and released in 1982 - was said to have been so bad that Atari buried a million unsold copies in shame at a New Mexico rubbish dump.
But whether the story was true or not remained unclear until this weekend, when a major dig uncovered hundreds of copies of the notorious release.
Some 200 gaming enthusiasts gathered at the landfill site Alamogordo, New Mexico, to watch bulldozers dig through concrete-covered rubbish.
Executives from Atari, which has changed hands several times since the burial, were among those waiting with bated breath to find out whether the burial rumours were true.
Spokesman Kristen Keller said the company had no "corporate knowledge" about the Alamogordo burial, adding: "We're just watching like everybody else."
The dig was carried out as part of a documentary by film director Zak Penn.
He said: "I feel pretty relieved and psyched that they actually got to see something."
After hours of searching, the games were found, with some copies being played in a makeshift gaming den in the back of a van.
Among the watchers was Armando Ortega, a city official who was given a tip about the massive games dump by a landfill employee in 1983.
"It was pitch dark here that night, but we came with our flashlights and found dozens of games," he said.
In return for allowing the dig, the city of Alamogordo agreed to give the documentarians 250 cartridges or 10% of the quantity found, whichever is greater.
Mayor Susie Galea said the haul could make the city a tourist destination.
The ET game is particularly significant because it is one of the factors blamed for the decline of Atari and the collapse in the US of a multi-million dollar video game industry that did not bounce back for several years.
Tina Amini, deputy editor at gaming website Kotaku, said the game was unsuccessful because it was so riddled with bugs "it was practically broken".