7/23/2014

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Search on for cache of 'worst Atari video game' believed buried in landfill

Search on for cache of 'worst Atari video game' believed buried in landfill
Image courtesy Flickr user Digital Game Museum. (Creative Commons 2.0 license)
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ALAMOGORDO, N.M. (AP) - Organizers say a planned dig into a New Mexico landfill for a rumored cache of what some consider the worst Atari video game of all time is expected to proceed despite state environmental regulators' concerns.

Fuel Entertainment and LightBox Interactive are seeking to excavate an old Alamogordo landfill that reportedly was a dumping ground for "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial" game cartridges.

Jonathan Chinn, an executive producer at Los Angeles-based LightBox, said Thursday that the search hasn't been halted.

Chinn says a local waste-management consultant who filed an excavation permit is addressing questions raised by the New Mexico Environmental Department.

A department spokesman has said the agency was waiting on a revised waste excavation plan.

Atari paid Steven Spielberg tens of millions of dollars to license the wildly popular 1982 movie's name, and game developers completed the project in just six weeks. In the game, the player takes on the role of the titular alien and tries to elude FBI agents while collecting pieces of a telephone to call E.T.'s spaceship.

The end result was a huge commercial dud that caused the troubled company's worth to sink even further.

Atari purportedly disposed of millions of game cartridges and other equipment by the truckload at the landfill. The area's supposed role as a gaming burial ground has snowballed into mythic status over the years.

The landfill was first used as a dumping ground in the 1920s but has been closed since the late 1980s, officials said.

A 2004 study found elevated levels of several chemicals in the landfill, prompting the New Mexico Environment Department to request further testing. Test results found "22 compounds of concern," according to the agency.
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