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E.T. cartridges found in infamous Atari landfill

Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

Evidently, Atari did bury its biggest mistake in the New Mexico desert.

Excavators have found copies of the 1982 Atari 2600 cartridge E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial — a notorious flop blamed for console gaming's collapse a year later — in a dig at an Alamagordo, N.M. landfill on Saturday.

The highly publicized dig, which will be the subject of an upcoming documentary, appears to confirm the story that Atari dumped thousands of unsold E.T. cartridges at the site more than 30 years ago.

The image above is of materials recovered from the dig. Polygon's Matt Leone, on the scene, says at least one E.T. package has been found "complete with inserts. They say there are lots more games down there."

Zak Penn, the director of the forthcoming documentary, told Polygon: "I'm really psyched for the people who are here," referencing the crowd brought to the scene by the promotion and Xbox Live. "All these people showed up to see something, and obviously they're seeing something.

"If we had found absolutely nothing, that would have been the point [of the documentary]." Penn said. "What would have sucked is if we'd have dug up some stuff, and there's no E.T. games. I'm glad that didn't happen."

Atari, then the dominant maker of home consoles and video games, paid millions for the rights to make an adaptation of the 1982 blockbuster E.T. The resulting game is considered one of the worst of all time and, along with a similarly disappointing port of Pac-Man for the Atari 2600, is blamed for home consoles' ice age from 1983 until the North American launch of the Nintendo Entertainment System.

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