E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (also referred to simply as E.T.) is a 1982 adventure video game developed and published by Atari, Inc. for the Atari 2600 video game console. It is based on the film of the same name, and was designed by Howard Scott Warshaw. The objective of the game is to guide the eponymous character through various screens to collect three pieces of an interplanetary telephone that will allow him to contact his home planet.
Warshaw intended the game to be an innovative adaptation of the film, and Atari thought it would achieve high sales figures based on its connection with the film, which was extremely popular throughout the world. Negotiations to secure the rights to make the game ended in late July 1982, giving Warshaw only five and a half weeks to develop the game in time for the 1982 Christmas season. The result is often cited as one of the worst video games released and was one of the biggest commercial failures in video gaming history. The game's commercial failure and resulting effects on Atari are frequently cited as a contributing factor to the video game industry crash of 1983.
E.T. is an adventure game in which players control an alien (E.T.) from a top-down perspective. The objective of the game is to collect three pieces of an interplanetary telephone. The pieces are found scattered randomly throughout various pits (also referred to as wells). The player is provided with an on-screen energy bar, which decreases when E.T. performs any actions (including moving, teleporting, or falling into a pit, as well as levitating back to the top). To prevent this, E.T. can collect Reese's Pieces, which are used to restore his energy or, when nine are collected, E.T. can call Elliott to obtain a piece of the telephone, or the player can save the candy pieces for bonus points at the end. After the three phone pieces have been collected, the player must guide E.T. to an area where he can use the phone, which allows him to call his home planet. When the call is made, E.T. must reach the spaceship in a given time limit. Once E.T. gets to the forest where his ship abandoned him and stands and waits in the designated area for the ship to come, the ship will appear on screen and take him back to his home planet. Then the game starts over, with the same difficulty level, while changing the location of the telephone pieces. The score obtained during the round is carried over to the next iteration. The game ends when the energy bar depletes. E.T. has three lives and if he dies within those three lives Elliot will come in and revive him. E.T. can get a fourth life if the player is lucky enough to find a geranium in one of the wells. It turns into a sprite from some games that Howard Scott Warshaw made (e.g. Raiders of the Lost Ark.).
The game is divided into six environments, each representing a different setting from the film. To accomplish the objective of the game, the player must guide E.T. into the wells. Once all items found in a well are collected, the player must levitate E.T. out of them. An icon at the top of each screen represents the current area, each area enabling the player to perform different actions. Antagonists include a scientist who takes E.T. for observation and an FBI agent who chases the alien to confiscate one of the collected telephone pieces, or candy. The game offers diverse difficulty settings that affect the number and speed of humans present, and the conditions needed to accomplish the objective.
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