Remember a simpler time? When games were just being birthed and taking the world by storm? An industry came out of nowhere and went from 0 to 100 in a matter of a few months. People marvelled at just what new technology could do. This was a time when Atari was at the peak of its infancy. When you couldn’t think video games without also thinking of them. In its short time as a company, Atari released hundreds upon hundreds of games for their system: the Atari 2600. But there was one; so good, so gobsmackingly amazing that it changed the gaming industry forever. To this day, no other game has managed to even come close to replicating the prodigious perfection of this absolute masterpiece. The game I’m talking about, is of course; E.T.
There are many reasons E.T. is game of the century, and easily the best game ever made; but today, I will be going over the chief reasons. To be honest, this is less a review and more a monument to its brilliance. First, let’s talk about the gameplay. At the time, it was revolutionary, and it still is today. You trek around the map, collecting parts for E.T’s spaceship so he can escape Earth and go back home. While doing this, you have to evade government agents and abyssal pits. Every. Single. Second of E.T is important as every time you move, the time you have to return home gets shorter and shorter and shorter. Playing the game is so intense, you really have to experience it for yourself. It’s an epic, almost futile race against time that will drive you to your very limit, and you’ll enjoy every second of it.
In a way, it’s a deep allegory for life itself. Your time on this Earth is limited and so you should make the most of out every minuscule movement and choice you make. Falling into deep pits is a personification of all your low moments in life, all the mistakes you’ve made. E.T challenges you to pull yourself out from the gutter as if rising from hell in an aura of holy light. Why do you think so many people complained that escaping the depths of these crevasses was too difficult? Not everyone has the strength to recover, no matter how unfortunate that fact may be. Yet somehow, this philosophical questioning of your entire existence manages to be fun. That’s just the unparalleled design of E.T doing its work.
The story, although nearly completely similar to the movie’s story, nevertheless manages to go a step above. You aren’t just seeing someone’s run in with E.T like the kids from the film, you are being E.T. From the second you start, you can’t help automatically adapting into the role. You feel E.T. All his emotions, all his beliefs, all of him. His fright of this new, strange world, that for some reason feels compelled to kill him. His sadness and despair at the thought of never being able to return home. And his righteous anger at the human race’s treatment of him! But not just that. You feel happiness too at the thought of returning home, the excitement and adrenaline rush of adventure, the love E.T has for his family back home. Somehow, an already memorable character is transformed into a beautiful butterfly, a kaleidoscope of emotions and personality.
This is only further extenuated through the game’s astounding graphics that still hold up today. Every single detail of the vibrant world is examined by the game’s gorgeous spectrum of colours from bright to dark. E.T himself looks better than he ever has before. When you stretch his neck to get out of one of the pits, you can see each individual sinew tensing. I noticed parts of E.T’s body structure I had never even seen before. While some may think the sprite looks shrewd by today’s standards, it’s really a cloak protecting the awesomeness underneath from judging eyes. You can tell they spent hours upon hours making sure to fill the game chock full of the tiniest minutiae.
And the sound design, my god the sound design. The main theme of the movie is polished to perfection and I actually froze on the menu screen for a full ten minutes processing it. Every single sound made is meaningful and well-placed from each of E.T’s footsteps echoing his desperation to the indescribable sound his neck makes when stretching; highlighting his ascent from the pit like he’s an angel. I found myself almost dying from holding my breath because I didn’t want my shallow, meaningless breathing to interrupt this orchestra of sound effects. Look up a playthrough on Youtube and you’ll see what I mean. It will prepare you for the challenge ahead of trying not to cry of happiness while playing the game.
There’s really nothing else I can do to explain this epitome of gaming. Some people say it crashed the game industry because it was so bad. That’s simply not the case. It crashed the game industry because it was SO damn good. All the other game developers at the time took one look at it and said “There’s no way we can ever make a game that flawless.”. Can you blame them? There was not a single game and there never will be a game as excellent and marvellous as E.T. People even took to burying the cartridges in the desert as a gift to god; their greatest creation and he was so blown away he hasn’t been seen since. One of my rules is that no single game is perfect; and I still stand by that rule. E.T has risen far above perfect. It is simply unattainable.
- Best graphics I’ve ever seen
- Sound design is like an orchestra of epicness
- Philosophical gameplay is incredibly fun
- Story so well-written, its been passed down the ages
- E.T is a likeable protagonist
- Incredibly tense instances of chasing
- An absolute classic
- What more can I say?
- Crashed the game industry because it was so amazing
Play the game for free here: http://www.retrogames.cz/play_083-Atari2600.php?language=EN