Gamer invitation to play “world’s worst video game” after desert find

Days after the unearthing of a legendary massive cache of Atari E.T. games that were buried in the desert 30 years ago, a Shropshire trader is inviting gamers to try out “the world’s worst ever video game” for themselves.

In honour of the find, retro game specialist The Gamer, based in The Market Hall, Shrewsbury, has set up the notorious game on an original Atari 2600 console for gamers to play free of charge until the end of next week.

The game, based on Steven Spielberg’s 1982 hit movie ‘E.T.’, suffered disastrous sales and contributed to the demise of Atari, the pioneering giant of the early video game industry.

The American company closed in 1984, and it became an urban myth that millions of its unsold game cartridges were buried, “out of shame”, as landfill in the New Mexico desert.

Last Saturday video game archaeologists, on a quest for the truth, uncovered the huge cache at a landfill site just outside Alamogordo. The dig was filmed as part of a documentary for Microsoft’s Xbox TV channel.

“The Atari 2600 version of E.T. is supposed to be the worst game ever made,” said Royston Allcock, of The Gamer.

“It’s a legend in its own right and the myth of it being buried out of shame in the desert only added to its mystique. I don’t mind playing it too much myself, although for no more than 20 minutes at a time. I find it boring more than bad! A 25-year-old, who loves Atari games, came in yesterday and she played it for an hour-and-a-half!

“For an older generation it’s a nostalgic trip back to their childhoods and for younger generations it’s a lesson in just how far the video game industry has come in 30 years.”

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Pete White Pete White

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