ATARI : GAME OVER Tells the tale of the downfall of Atari and clears up the mystery of one of the worlds greatest urban legends, The one of over a million E.T Game cartridges being buried in landfill out in the desert. The land fill site was reportedly in the small New Mexican town of Alamogordo. It is said E.T was the worst video game of all time, Atari supposedly made over four Million cartridges on the huge success of the movie and it was on a buy or return basis and needed to be released for Christmas, It sold a shed load before Christmas but after Christmas apparently word got around abut how bad it was and millions of cartridges were returned, Refunds given, Cartridges driven to the landfill and dumped and Atari goes bankrupt, That's how the legend goes but is it all true?
E.T Was designed by Atari legend Howard Scott Warshaw, Responsible for such Atari classics as Yars Revenge, He was given the task to design the game in a mere 5 weeks, When the game was finished it was given the thumbs up by Steven Speilberg himself and the game went on sale.
Warshaw is one of the main people in Atari:Game Over and his stories and fascinating, Starting from his very first day at Atari and him taking a joint into work to be accepted by the other hippy type game programmers, He tells how that how much money they were making back then was incredible and the bosses when they met targets he would send out someone with the company credit card to go and buy beer and they would just solidly party for 2-3 days also using the company hot tub, Eventually Atari were sold to Warner where the success did continue hugely, In 1981 they made $300 million dollars in profit.
The main reason behind the documentary as I have said is that to prove if the landfill site does actually contain the E.T game but the great thing is that there is so much more to this than just that point,Basically sometime in the mid 80's Atari just pretty much vanished and why is also a question the director Zak Penn want's to find out.
During the 1990's video started to appear of people apparently showing people digging up E.T games in random places and with the birth of the internet the urban legend grew massively leading to Zak Penn making this great documentary.
He tracks down the exact location pretty early on and then it's a task to see what also maybe down there, there is talk of toxic waste and even Mercury filled pigs that may explode and cover the town in toxic gas! But eventually the town agrees to let the go ahead and the dig is on. Word gets out of the dig date and loads of people turn up of all ages all telling snippets of Atari memories.
Now I maybe showing my age but I did and loved my Atari 2600, I remember getting it one Christmas with the game Galaxians and playing it solidly all day long and indeed for many many months after, I did always wonder what had happened to them back in the day. I also remember owning and loving Yar's Revenege, I never owned the game E.T but always remember hearing the legend of the buried games, A great trip down memory lane,