Tuesday, April 16, 2013

What Could Make E.T. Better? Anything, Probably.

E.T. The Extraterrestrial video game is one of the best examples of how bad movie and product tie-ins can be. I remember playing this as a child. In fact, I still have a copy, safely stored away along with my Atari 2600. It was abysmal. I remember thinking this game served no purpose other than to make money. I wasn’t even born yet and I already understood marketing and corporate greed!

So when I saw my email box with an article from PC World about how hackers turned the worst game of all time into something that was playable, it caught my attention. Because really, any improvements on E.T. would make it a better game.

Apparently there are fans of the game. Well of course there are. There are fans for becoming fans of random stuff. A lot of the faults with the game are that kids just didn’t know how to play it. If they read the instruction manual, it would have made sense. (Just did. It’s still the same game, so I wasn’t playing it “wrong,” rather the mechanics were that bad that it couldn’t be played.) They acknowledge that it’s difficult, to a fault, but it offered some things revolutionary at the time: an open-ended world and side-quests. Potential? Maybe. But it doesn’t excuse it for having horrible game mechanics if an adult can’t play the game.

NeoComputer.com set out on the task to try and resolve the games issues, and helped develop a ROM to make it a playable game along with several others. Issues such as E.T. constantly falling into holes, the biggest annoyance of them all, and losing energy every step you take. No seriously, every time you moved in the game, you would lose energy and items to replenish said energy were few and far between. Do you know why E.T. would fall into the holes and wells so many times? Because of one pixel. If the E.T. character was even 1/100th on top of a pixel that led into a hole, he’d fall in even if he was clearly on flat ground.

Having tested the ROM for about 30 minutes, the changes are noticeable and the game is actually tolerable. It’s still not a good game, but sometimes we just need someone to break into it and tweak a few things.

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