Search For E.T. Atari Cartridges In The Desert Is Still Happening – Or Maybe Not

Is he in a sandy grave, waiting to return to the surface?

Is he in a sandy grave, waiting to return to the surface?

Last June, we shared with you the exciting news that a documentary film crew would be searching the New Mexico desert for a video game legend. They would dig up the desert landfill where millions of unsold copies of the notoriously terrible 1982 Atari game E.T. were allegedly interred. What happened with that? Not much, it turns out.

Back then, we heard that the company had six months to dig up the landfill for their movie, which would be exclusive, to the Xbox platform. The trouble is that their plan needed to be approved by state environmental regulators, since it’s their business who goes around digging up landfills from the early ’80s. Even if the legend is true, there’s more than just a bunch of terrible game cartridges buried at the site.

Back in June, the city approved the crew’s quest to bring E.T. home, but state environmental regulators have not. The dump where the cartridges would have been, well, dumped shut down in 2004 due to “compounds of concern” and the federal government was asked to take it over as a Superfund site.

This is where things get interesting: the dig hasn’t happened yet. Why? The local newspaper reports that the state isn’t satisfied with the company’s waste excavation plan and aren’t letting the dig go forward. One of the film’s organizers told the Associated Press that the dig is proceeding as planned, and the filmmakers have hired a company to take care of the environmental aspects. Which version is true? It’s not yet clear.

Like his crudely animated onscreen avatar, E.T. remains trapped in a pit. Based on what we’ve heard about the game, that may be just as well.

Atari dig put on hold in Alamogordo by state agency [Almogordo News]
SEARCH FOR OLD ATARI GAMES TO GO ON IN NEW MEXICO [AP]

PREVIOUSLY:
Movie Studio Set To Comb Desert Landfill For Notoriously Terrible ‘E.T.’ Atari Game