It was one of the most infamous videogame mysteries in history: Did Atari bury millions of unwanted cartridges of its colossal flop E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial in a New Mexico landfill? Today, that mystery has been put to rest, as an excavation team has found copies of the 1982 Atari 2600 game in a landfill in Alamogordo, New Mexico.
As previously reported, the team of excavators represents a larger effort headed by Microsoft that finally secured the rights to dig up the landfill, which had long been rumored to contain the buried “treasure.” Although Alamogordo city commissioners approved the project in June, finalization for a waste excavation plan put everything on hold until earlier this month.
The heavily publicized excavation has also been filmed by a documentary crew headed by screenwriter Zak Penn, and the final product, which has been given a tentative title of “Atari: Game Over,” will be released exclusively for Xbox 360 and One users later on this year.
“The findings started out very promising, with an old, dusty Atari 2600 joystick buried in the landfill,” reads an article about the dig on Xbox Wire, “Then an “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” cartridge. A box. An instruction manual. And the confirmation of “a lot more down there.” How many more, we don’t know just yet — but at this point, we can safely report that those long-buried cartridges are actually, 100 percent there. Crazy, isn’t it!?”
Additionally, it seems that E.T. wasn’t the only game Atari needed to get rid of, as a copy of Centipede, a 1980 game also for the Atari 2600, was also unearthed:
The dig was open to the public, and as you might expect it drew a sizable crowd eager to finally learn the truth. “I’m really psyched for the people who are here,” Penn told Polygon at the dig, “All these people showed up to see something, and obviously they’re seeing something.”
The excavation of the landfill is still ongoing, and it is likely that more discoveries await within.