The Legends Are True: Microsoft Finds Infamous Lost ‘E.T.’ Atari Game Cartridges In New Mexico Landfill

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A little over a month ago we brought you a story about how Microsoft was recently granted clearance to excavate a New Mexico landfill as part of a planned documentary aiming to uncover the truth behind one of the greatest mysteries in video game history. As the legend goes, the response to E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial was so bad when it was initially released in the early 1980s that the creator (Atari) had millions of copies buried in a landfill after they had spent months filling space in warehouses across the country. The tapes were buried in a remote portion of New Mexico, most still sealed, and the video game industry spent years recovering from the damage done.

Fast forward to 2013, when Microsoft begins work on an original documentary hoping to figure out what, if any truth lies behind the legend of E.T. Locating the area the tapes were believed to be buried took time, but in all honesty was not the hardest part of the project’s journey. That part came when Microsoft wanted to excavate the landfill, which required petitions and approval from a number of high ranking state officials. The company was granted access not long ago, and earlier today they finally broke ground on the New Mexico landfill. As it turns out: The legend is true.

We do not know exactly how many copies of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial were found, but posts made on Twitter earlier today from people at the site of the excavation show proof that the shamefully buried games are once again seeing the light of day. You can view several images of tapes/packaging below:


Released in 1982, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial was instantly panned by critics and players alike for being both endlessly confusing and impossibly difficult. Glitches were frequent, the graphics were poor (even for Atari), and the story made absolutely zero sense. It was a mess in every way, and many believe it caused the gaming industry crash of 1983.

Microsoft has not set a date or title for their E.T. documentary, but we do know that X2 scribe Zach Penn is set to direct. We’ll bring you more information as additional details begin to surface.

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

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