Published on June 4th, 2013 | by Tanuki0
Digging Up Aliens in New Mexico :: Atari’s Famous Landfill To Be Unearthed!
You all know I love aliens and a good alien story; especially it involves Japanese schoolgirls and slimy tentacles, but here’s something I recently read that has me filled with all sorts of spooky feelings—like those creepy feelings I’d get as a teenager when watching an X-Files episode. In fact, this story—though still in its infancy—has the potential to be a great sci-fi mystery. Well, that could just be my adventurous mind at it again. Anyway, here’s some of the details…
Alamogordo, New Mexico: Situated approximately 50 miles SE of the most famous UFO site (Roswell) in the United States, Alamogordo is home to a special kind of landfill—a landfill that, 30 years ago, Atari, Inc. constructed as a mass grave of its unsellable stock. Purported to be included in the earthy tomb are some several-thousand copies of the notorious E.T. and Pac-Man titles. It is also rumored that the diabolic-sounding MindLink controller shares space alongside its 8-bit cousins. Now, all these years later, as the 30th anniversary of the interment approaches, a Canadian firm (eh) has moseyed into town wanting to unearth the mysterious treasure trove of crushed cartridges. Their intentions once they’ve accomplished their goal, unknown.
Digging Up The Past
In the early 1980’s the advent of the E.T. game for the Atari-2600 was intended to be a big success (and it sold wonderfully for a brief period), but crashed and burned like a runaway alien vessel soon thereafter. A common criticism, which arguably played the biggest roll of the game’s downfall, was that of the insanely short amount of time spent on production. When business negotiations to acquire the rights to make the game concluded at the tail-end of July 1982, it left Howard Scott Warshaw (the designer) just 5 weeks to develop a monumental game in time for a Holiday season release of that same year. It was monumental, but for all the wrong reasons. Ugh *sadface*!
( ↑↑↑ Hilarious and truthful review of E.T. for Atari 2600 ↑↑↑ )
The E.T. title has probably received the most attention in this story due not only for the catastrophic financial mess it caused Atari (a loss of $100-million and also being cited as major a contributor in the North American video game crash of ’83), but more importantly, for the frustration and outrage it caused millions of gamers/consumers who spent their money on a product that failed to deliver anything of entertaining value. Throughout the years, a shopping list of issues mentioned by critics have included: monotonous, unintuitive game-play, irritating pit-falls, and a frail plot-line that disconnected the players from the strong story in the movie.
We shan’t forget to mention the other monstrosity which caused an almost equally damaging calamity around the same time: Pac-Man. Not much more needs to be said about the failure to port this arcade classic other than a burial in darkness was a befitting demise. Again, a major letdown for legions of fans anticipating something they could conveniently play (and enjoy) from home.
As the story goes, Atari having produced an astronomical amount of surplus remaining unsold, coupled with other forces negatively impacting the company, they rid themselves of the burden by emptying their El Paso warehouse and sending the load over to Alamogordo.
The Excavation Cometh!
Canada-based game filmmaker Fuel Industries has been all over this and was recently approved by Albuquerque city council to dig up the landfill and uncover whatever mysterious past lay beneath. They have six months to tear up the earth and that additional layer of concrete that was ordered to be poured on the assets. I anticipate that the events of their time-frame will be filmed and released in some form of Otaku-style documentary. I’ll be keep you all posted as the story unfolds!
One thing I find most interesting is that there’s been an ongoing dispute regarding the contents of the burial site. Around the time of the dumping, Atari had been reported as denying that it was mainly for the crap-load of E.T. games in surplus. The urban legend will soon be demystified by Fuel Industries and I certainly hope that something more sinister isn’t lurking, waiting to be unleashed. We have but to standby and wait.
I am once again reminded of those spooky X-Files episodes—those specifically focusing on the main story arc of Mulder and his search for “the truth”. I want to believe that Fuel Industries will uncover something made of pure sci-fi and expose it to the world. What if those MindLink controllers were used in some sort of ecchi experiments during development. I guess part of having a wild imagination is hoping for and conjuring something truly extraordinary when, in our gut, you really feel it will end up being anti-climactic.