Come 26 April 2014, one of gaming's greatest mysteries will finally be solved. Or maybe it will just be get even more convoluted and confusing. In either case, that is the official date Microsoft just announced for when someone is finally going to break ground on the infamous New Mexico landfill that's allegedly overflowing with discarded copies of the Atari 2600 games E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and Pac-Man.
As legend has it, Atari piled the unused cartridges into the landfill more than three decades ago following the colossal commercial failure of both titles.The company had paid through the nose to secure the rights to make a video game adaptation of E.T. The game that eventually came out of this licensing deal wasn't just terrible, however. It also had very little to do with Steven Spielberg's classic movie of the same name. As for Pac-Man? Well, the console version of the game sold around seven million copies but still left Atari with an extra five million gathering dust in its warehouse in El Paso, Texas.
The mystery lies in what happened next. On 26 April 1989, Atari did bury a bunch of stuff in a landfill in Alamogordo, a city in south-central New Mexico. It has never confirmed if the thousands of unused cartridges were part (or all) of said stuff, however.
Late last year, the media company Fuel Entertainment got exclusive rights from the Alamogordo city council to go digging for the landfill. Now partnered with Microsoft's Xbox Entertainment Studios and LightBox Entertainment, Fuel is finally going to put all the conspiracy theories to the test.
What do you think the three are going to find down there? All the remaining E.T. copies that are still unspoken for? A time capsule that Atari co-founder Nolan Bushnell left to warn us all of the unspeakable atrocities that would unfold in the console wars to come? Walter White's leftover drug money? We only have a few more days to come up with the crackpot theory to end all crackpot theories, so let's get to work!