Atari’s legendary attempt to (literally) bury one of its biggest development disasters is getting is getting a curious resolution: NPR reports that after nearly 30 years, developer Fuel Industries has gained permission from the Alamogordo, New Mexico city council to dig up the site which has become known as the “Atari Dump” and see just how many copies of “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial” are sitting at the bottom of that hole.
Some of you might not be familiar with the reputedly awful tie-in to Spielberg’s classic film, which was hastily developed to reach shelves in time for the holidays. But instead of giving gamers another heartwarming chapter in the cuddly extraterrestrial’s journey home, they instead got broken gameplay, baffling level design, and one of the earliest examples of the cash grab licensed game. In one of those decisions that can only be attributed to the coked-out excesses of the 80’s (and sitting on piles and piles of money), Atari decided to divest themselves of the extra copies of the game–reportedly 14 dump trucks worth, according to blog Western Dig–by dumping them in a New Mexico hole, crushing them with bulldozers, and paving over the whole mess with cement.
It’s an interesting piece of technological excavation, although it seems unlikely, given the years and Atari’s efforts to bury the game, that anything salvageable will come out of that hole.