“I wonder if aliens ever say: Do you believe in humans?”
National Geographic has recently featured an article about a mass migration, not of bison or antelope or avians, but of human beings. The article said “Not since the mad dash of the Gold Rush has America ever witnessed such a proliferation of hairless apes making their way across the deserts of the West”.
Where are they all going? To New Mexico. Why are they going there? Oh, I think you know why. Pack your murses and gird up your loins because we’re off to a landfill on a hunt for the greatest video game ever made.
Did I just say those words in a post about Atari’s supposedly critically-panned E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial?
Consider a few things with me: Thing the First… who has even played this game?
Nobody I know. So then why all the hate for it? How can so many articles and blog posts written by people in their late twenties, who have never even seen a copy, so easily label E.T. as a dismal failure, or indeed as the worst game ever made? Was this all planned? Is this all part of some massive generational conspiracy put in place by those in power to hide the true meaning of E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial? What is that landfill hiding? The truth is out there, hidden under the New Mexico soil.
Thing the Second… the financial downfall of Atari.
We’ve been led to believe that 9/11 wasn’t an inside job. We’ve been led to believe that there is no alien craft at Area 51. We’ve been led to believe that the King of Pop is dead. We’ve been led to believe that overproduction coupled with poor sales of E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial is what single-handedly took down Atari and caused the 1983 gaming industry crash. Did it? Or was that just the government’s cover story for a, quote, “video game” that was much more than it seemed? Supply and demand disaster? Or something far more sinister?
Thing the Third… the world was not ready.
Steven Spielberg, director of the film adaptation of the video game E.T., once said: “I’m not really interested in making money.” His film owes it’s financial success to the game that came before it, a game reviled for its uniqueness and profundity, a game rejected because, like it’s eponymous alien, descended from the heavens with the cure for our ails and suffering, only to be rejected by all who do not possess the faith of a child. There are not enough Elliots in the world.
Thing the Fourth… E.T. teaches us about our place in the universe.
“It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.” Billy Shakespeare. Ironic that E.T. came from the stars to teach us of our destiny. Is there intelligent life out there? Undeniably. Is there intelligent life in the space where your ego and your id meet? Who knows. E.T. knows.
Thing the Fifth… this game represents the struggle of the human soul.
In the “game” E.T. searches. He searches for components to build his device. He searches for Reese’s Pieces. But who is Reese? And why did he or she leave so many of their pieces lying around to be found? And what exactly is the machine E.T. is building? Why must he descend into these so-called “wells”, willingly choose his own fall into the earth and then struggle to get out again? Because he is showing us what it means to be human in the only way he knows how to communicate with us: through pantomime. The Reese’s Pieces represent all of our desires in life. The components of his machine represent the unknown goals which drive us forward and keep us living, except that in order to find them, we descend further into time, into the earth, toward the grave awaiting us. We may struggle to get out of these “wells” but where else is there to go but back down into the next one?
And Thing the Sixth… E.T. is not a game. It’s a recording.
You know how poor video quality was back in the early 80’s, so don’t try to deny this assertion. I have proof that the image above is not a digital play-screen. It is a slide from a video recording taken in the Michigan forests. It is the first captured video evidence of an extra-terrestrial, presiding over its strange alien devices: two vertical ovoids and two horizontal ones, swirling around the center of the screen where a tiny wormhole has appeared. The (presumably) human figure in the lower left corner of the image has remained unidentified.
The 8-Bit Review
Eye-Candy: 10/10 Visuals: 1/10
Shocking in its minimalistic stupefication, E.T.’s surreal “adventure” is a self-parodizing performance of humanity as enacted by a yet unidentified extra-terrestrial race. To the untrained eye it appears primitive and pixelated, but we have seen past that to the underlying philosophy of the alien and his journey into the “wells” of the soul.
Ear-Candy: 10/10 Audio: 1/10
A hyper-sonic, symphonic pandemonium conflagrated by melodious din and hypnotic psycho-naturalism. The soundtrack is played by the koto and the steel drum and the kazoo in the key of Z minor. It made my inner ear implode.
Finger-Candy: 10/10 Gameplay: 1/10
Interacting with a pan-dimensional being is always a treat. E.T. is a cooperative journey toward an unknown end, and whether he is holding your hand or you are holding his, the apex of this quest will belong to both of you: the next stage in human evolution.
Adaptationability: 10/10 Narrative: 2/10
E.T. is one of the best “games” to inspire a movie. Hands down. It tells you the story of the greed of human history and you see your face in its mirror as it brings you to tears.
Internet Conectivism: 10/10 Online Play: 0/10
Plugging into the de-galactic multiverse and its web of infocyberthoughts, E.T. connects you to the space behind the stars. Even if you never wanted to go there, you already bought the ticket.
Difficultiveness: 10/10 Challenge: 2/10
What can be more difficult than seeing yourself more clearly than ever before? “Ouch”. “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” That’s Aristotle. For every tap of the button to reascend out of E.T.’s “wells” of ambition, you build the habits of repetition that lead to excellence and that is difficult, but every great thing that has ever been done has been at least an eight on the difficulty meter.
Distinctivicity: 10/10 Uniqueness: 1/10
This is more than you can ask of entertainment because it transcends entertainment. This is education.
My “I Love It” Score: 10/10 My Personal Grade: 1/10
There is no reason that there should be anything other than what there is. That which is is that which has been decreed to be. E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial is no accident, for there are no accidents in an infinite-dimensional plane. You have been lied to. E.T. has been swept under the rug, but you cannot hide the archetype of life anywhere. Not even under the dirt. I would call E.T. the greatest video game ever made. But as we’ve just seen, it’s much more than that and the media doesn’t want you to know. THIS is phoning “home”.
Aggregated Score: 10.0
(spoilers: highlight to reveal) Secret Aggregated Score: 1.1…APRIL’S FOOLS