E.T. unearthed: The dig for legendary Atari cartridges in pictures

Yesterday marked the climax of a decades-long story that surrounded one of the most poorly received video games in history. A Microsoft-backed documentary crew took to a landfill in the desert town of Alamogordo, New Mexico, in an attempt to prove that Atari had in fact buried thousands of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial cartridges there. It appears they succeeded.

The game was an expensive failure and beckoned the demise of the once-great video game maker. It's still unclear just how many cartridges the team discovered or what other failures treasures are buried in the trash heap, but Microsoft's Xbox Wire says, "We can safely report that those long-buried cartridges are actually, 100 percent there." The excavation will appear in an Xbox-exclusive documentary produced by Fuel Entertainment, tentatively titled Atari: Game Over. The film will debut later this year, but for now, here's a closer look at the historic dig.

Reporters and spectators gather around a pile of trash in hopes of treasure. (John Thien for Engadget)

A fan shows off a signed version of the game widely considered to be one of the worst in history. (John Thien for Engadget)

Breaking garbage. (John Thien for Engadget)


Film producer Jonathan Chinn and Alamogordo Mayor Susie Galea pose with the joystick that served as a sign of things to come. The crew found an Atari 2600 controller before hitting the jackpot. (AP Photo/Juan Carlos Llorca)

A new generation gets acquainted with the Delorean, because no archeological dig is complete without one. (John Thien for Engadget)

The day's menu, woefully lacking in E.T. fingers and Reese's pieces. (John Thien for Engadget)


The documentary's director, Zak Penn shows off one of the first signs of a mass burial ground. (AP Photo/Juan Carlos Llorca)

Buckets of booty. (Microsoft)

And this is what we've been waiting for. This pile of trash is littered with E.T. packaging and cartridges along with a collection of other Atari artifacts. (Microsoft)

Success! Zak Penn, director of "Atari: Game Over," and Andrew Reinhard, archaeologist, hold up Atari 2600 "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial" game cartridges. (Microsoft)