Atari: Game Over


Explore the demise of gaming giant Atari, along with claims that it hid its biggest flop, 1982’s “E.T.,” by burying the cartridges in the desert.

Year: 2014
Certificate: G
Director: Zak Penn
Starring: Zak Penn

Information Page:

I was born in 1980 and am the youngest of 4 boys – as such I grew up with the likes of Spectrum, Tandy, Commodore and, of course, Atari. Computer games were different then… However, this is a review and not a memoir!

Over the years there have been numerous magazine articles claiming that Atari’s “ET” game was the worst game ever made and it was so bad that the company dumped millions of cartridges in landfill in New Mexico – the whole thing stank of urban legend. In 2014 Zak Penn and others decided to find out the truth about ET, the burial and Atari’s downfall. This is the theme of the documentary, “Atari: Game Over”.

There are two main threads in this documentary the first being the history of Atari / ET and the second being about the excavation itself. The history part includes input from former employees of Atari as well as the man who actually made the ET game. It gives a good insight into the company and their successes as well as some fascinating facts about why ET was seen to be so bad.

The sections on the excavation show the challenges that were met with regards to digging up a 30 year old landfill site. These are not just the physical difficulties involved in digging up landfill but also the legal hurdles that had to be graciously jumped through in order to go ahead.

“Atari: Game Over” is put together nicely and is enjoyable to watch. The ‘History’ and ‘Excavation’ sections merge together nicely leading up to the footage of the final dig itself; along with those who attended the dig as some sort of pilgrimage. All in all it kept me entertained, it’s a light-hearted documentary but also very interesting. So, was ET really the worst game ever made and were millions of cartridges buried in landfill by Atari? Well – we don’t do spoilers here so You’ll have to watch it for yourself!

Have you seen this documentary? Let us know your opinions in the comments below and of course if there are any films on Netflix UK you want us to review let us know!

About MaFt

Film and TV fan, creator of New On Netflix (UK, USA, Australia and Canada), dad of two amazing children, code geek and passionate about autism.

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