Atari E.T. Cartridge Dig Hits an Environmental Snag

Paul Lilly

Red tape stands in the way of finding out if millions of E.T. cartridges are buried in New Mexico

E.T. may have hitched a ride to another galaxy after phoning home in the 1980s, but the search for unsold Atari 2600 cartridges loosely based on the Extra-Terrestrial's Hollywood hit continues. Legend has it Atari dumped up to 20 truckloads of cartridges, consoles, and other electronics into a New Mexico landfill site , which is where many believe most of the 3.5 million unsold copies of E.T. for the Atari 2600 ended up. After all these years, production company Lightbox Entertainment decided to dig up the landfill as part of a documentary, but environmental concerns could delay the project.

According to CNET , Lightbox's excavation plan was approved by city officials in Alamorgordo last June. However, environmental officials have the final say and they decided to reject the plan last month. Jim WInchester, a spokesperson for the New Mexico Environment Department, claims that Lightbox has yet to submit a new proposal.

So, is it game over for E.T.'s resurrection? Not quite. According to an AP report , Lightbox is insisting that the search hasn't been halted. The company is working with a local waste-management consultant who filed an excavation permit and is working with the New Mexico Environment Department to address their concerns.

E.T is considered to be one of the worst games of all time. It was only allowed a short window for development, and while it quickly sold 1.5 million copies piggybacking on the success of Steven Spielberg's film, sales came to a screeching halt, resulting in a $500 million loss for Atari.

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