Fixing E.T.

Phone Home, you magnificent bastard

I grew up with the Atari 2600. I was a god at Combat, handicapping myself as the bomber and let my little sister play as the 3 biplanes. I did speedruns of Adventure and Superman before they were called speedruns. And, believe it or not, I actually loved playing E.T.

You heard right.

That much maligned game was absolutely one of my favorites, and I never really understood why it was considered the worst game of all time! It was challenging, and just random enough to have a high-replay value. If you were good, you could finish the game in just a few minutes.

Still, there are plenty of people out there who hate the game. HATE it. You only have to look at the embedded video to see just how much. I’m not saying the game’s without fault – E.T.’s coloring isn’t good, collision detection isn’t optimized, and it’s a difficult game to finish!

Luckily, there are still intrepid developers out there that are enthusiastic about clever algorithms, tight development constraints, and are nostalgic about retro gaming. This gentleman has taken it upon himself to “fix” E.T. and gives his readers instructions to modify the game ROM with a hex editor to eliminate a lot of E.T.’s problems.

If you’re a fan of retro gaming, and I know a lot of you still have a soft-spot in your little digital hearts for those gems, go find yourselves a copy of Stella, the excellent open-source Atari 2600 emulator, download the ROM, and enjoy a snowy weekend with an old friend.

  • January 3, 2014