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A legend uncovered

April 28, 2014 - Craig Howell
Sometimes, as it turns out, urban legends can be true.

Growing up, we've all heard our share of urban legends. Usually tales or morality or efforts to keep children away from a particular location, most are made up with absolutely no factual basis. Others might have just a grain of truth, but have been told and retold so many times over the years, no one is sure what to believe.

In video game circles, probably the greatest urban legend is the tale of a cache of thousands of unsold game cartridges buried somewhere in the American Southwest. And, it's not just any game cartridge, either. According to tales, the underground horde is made up almost entirely of copies of the Atari game based on "E.T. the Extraterrestrial."

For those who weren't around in the early to mid 1980s, home video game consoles were still a fairly new thing and the main player was Atari. This would come a few years before the original Nintendo Entertainment System was launched, taking over the living rooms across the world. Anyway, in an effort to cross market with movies and television, Atari thought it would be a great idea to get a game to tie in with the blockbuster film. Unfortunately, the game was bad, really bad. I'm talking worse than most Keanu Reeves movies. I know. My aunt actually had a copy and I attempted to play it. Stated simply, if video games were still designed like this one, kids would have no problem going outside to play these days.

Well, as it turns out, the stories were true. Recently, a film crew began working on a documentary about the tall tale, which for the last three decades has been denied by Atari. The crew traveled to the landfill in Alamogordo, New Mexico, where hundreds of thousands of copies of the game and other Atari equipment were unearthed, finally proving the myth true.

So, we can all learn a little from this. Sometimes, even the biggest urban legend can end up having some truth to it. Of course, that doesn't mean I'm going to be standing in front of a mirror calling for Bloody Mary anytime soon.


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