Throughout the history of gaming, E.T. for the Atari has been rumored to be the worst game ever. I can vouch for that. I've played it, and I agree that it is confusing, repetitive, and, quite frankly, not too great to look at. There's a reason they tried to get rid of that game under a mound of dirt. And... well, let's just say, it's not the only E.T. game that should be buried six feet under in the gaming world.
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial came out on Game Boy Advance one year before the movie's 20th anniversary. As a kid, I remember the hype that came with that re-release. We even got a McDonald's E.T. glowing finger toy! It was pretty cool at the time, but now it's a little creepy looking, to be honest. Luckily, we evaded the hype enough to avoid getting the Game Boy Advance game for it. If you can't tell already, my opinion of the game is that it's not one to "phone home" about. So many components in this game make it an unbearable, unplayable mess that should've gotten the same reputation as its Atari predecessor.
First, let's talk about the graphics. I suppose there are a few good things about the graphics. Not many, but there are a few... maybe one. Or one half. I suppose the graphics could be worse, but honestly, they could be so much better. There's not much diversity. You'll just see trees that have been copied and pasted hither and thither. The same sofa a bajillion times in the maze of a house. The ground textures are just a mish-mash of the same thing put together in a very blocky style. Everything's in straight lines which doesn't exactly look very appealing or natural in a 3D-esque game. Don't even get me started on the character design! Actually, I'll start myself. It's creepy. E.T. looks like he has a butt for his entire back (but I guess that's kind of normal). The stills from the movie that pop up on occasion are washed out and grainy. Elliot's face reminds me of a stereotypical mob thug with bulges everywhere. Some of the secret agents are dressed like cows. To be honest, the whole game looks unfinished. There are sharp edges everywhere in the graphics that needed to be rounded out. There's one level that frustrated me to the ends of the earth, but I'll talk about that later.
Whoever designed the controls for this game should be shot. Once again, I will admit they aren't the worst controls in the world. But why in the world does this game use various velocities when moving around? That means that you start out going slow and go faster the longer you hold down the direction button. Okay, there's nothing particularly wrong with that... except when you're constantly being chased by agents and astronauts and mosquitoes and literally anything that moves in the game. The best example of the awful controls is evident in the levels where you have to ride a bike either on the ground or in the air. The bike is incapable of making sharp turns to you end up either making a complete 180 or crashing into a wall if you hold a direction button too long. You should probably know that holding a direction doesn't mean you'll necessarily go forward in that direction. In order to go forward, you have to repeatedly hit the A button. I suppose it was supposed to feel like your controlling a real bike, but it feels more like controlling a blindfolded three-legged donkey.
This game was published by NewKidCo. New Kid? No wonder it feels so awkward.
When you're in the air on the bicycle, you have to dodge trees and agents hiding out on the roofs of houses and on top of randomly placed water towers. These levels are annoying because they made these levels with three layers. There's the foreground, background, and a middle part. It took me a while to get that because if you hold the direction button a millisecond too long, you go straight to the back or to the front. Not only can you go back and forth, but you can also go up and down. If you're meant to go back and forth to avoid obstacles, why is there an option to go up and down? What's even more perplexing is the fact that you can turn around and go backwards. The only reasoning I can see behind that is to go back and get unnecessary items that you missed, and honestly, you'll probably lose the level faster that way. It's best to just go online and get the passwords to bypass the bike levels. Otherwise, you'll be getting social security checks before you're able to maneuver around and finish these levels.
They introduce a few levels where the player can control two characters: E.T. and Elliot. What the levels are meant to be like is this: you get E.T. to levitate an object and then switch to Elliot to grab the parts that those objects were hiding. What it's more like is this: One player goes around trying to collect parts while the character following them gets stuck on a wall and doesn't try to get back to the other player. If you need to cooperate with the other player, you have to switch characters and pray that you remember where you left the other character. If you leave E.T. alone to get bumped by tree frogs and beetles, he'll start saying famous lines from the movie like "E.T. phone home" and "Be good". If E.T.'s following you, sometimes he'll throw his arms up, pick up speed, and wail. It legitimately scared me the first time I saw it. So disturbing...
Oh, and in the last level, you have to land E.T.'s spaceship perfectly. Otherwise, you bounce around like a frog filled with helium.
To conclude, this game should've been buried along with the Atari versions. The main theme of the game is just going around collecting things. The controls are unbearable and frustrating. The graphics look bland and unfinished. The music is alright, but I expected something a bit better from a Game Boy Advance game. The only positive thing about this game is that the options are right on the start menu. At no point did I ever feel like I was having fun, which is the point of playing games in the first place. The only challenge the game presented was trying to plow through the unwieldy controls and confusing objectives. In short, the little wrinkly alien should've stayed home in the first place.