No… not Desert Bus. Not Superman 64. I’m talking about E.T., the Atari 2600 game notorious for being so dramatically unsuccessful that a millions of unsold copies were poured into a hole in the desert and buried. Over at the A.V. Club they have a very interesting piece about a man trying to play this game, and I really liked it.
It’s sort of part history lesson, part experiential piece about a terrible, terrible video game. It’s really worth reading.
E.T.’s propensity for spending nearly all of his time falling into wells and wandering around crudely digitized landscapes ostensibly representing different scenes from the film began to feel like the game’s commentary on the fundamental loneliness of existence, on the way we’re born alone, die alone, and are doomed to spend the unhappy moments between scouring the earth in search of candy and telephone components. I grew so lonely and frustrated playing and failing miserably at E.T. that I came to welcome a trenchcoat-wearing FBI agent and scientist who serve as the game’s primary antagonists. True, the FBI agent is a villain and confiscates pieces of your precious telephone, but in a world seemingly devoid of anything but the agonizing silent scream of eternal loneliness and an endless series of wells, it’s nice just to see a human face, even if it’s patently unfriendly.
The piece got me wondering about the games I’ve really struggled through in the past for review. An old PS2 game 25 To Life is probably the worst. But more recently I think Leisure Suit Larry: Box Office Bust may be another contender.
Any other nominees?