"For the time I had, and given the problem I had to solve, I think I did a pretty good job with it"
- Howard Scott Warshaw, programmer and designer, on E.T.
Now that we've started off with a lie, let's continue with some truths:
- Aims for fastest time
- Plays a really shitty game
- Abuses programming errors (as in, abuses the game)
- Is awesome
- TAS of the year
- Is worth a minute of your time
E.T. - The Extra-Turdestrial (1982) is known as the most horrible game in video game history, and for all the good reasons. It really is that bad. The programmer and designer Howard Scott Warshaw was only given 5½ weeks to design, program, and debug the game for it to be ready for the Christmas season. During this time, the standard was some 5 or 6 months, so it's easy to see why E.T. might be considered rushed. Anyway the game was released, and soon, all hell broke loose. E.T. didn't sell, and resulted in a net loss of almost $100 million for Atari, and the video game industry was brought to its knees and was nearly destroyed. The collapse of the video game industry was a fact, all thanks to this piece of junk. Landfill was a fitting destiny. We had to TAS it to pay back for all the shit this game has caused for every gamer ever.
Game Mechanics & Objectives:
The main objective of E.T. is to collect 3 parts of E.T.'s phone, then pull off a tricky move known as "phone home", find his way to the Landing Zone, await the mother-turd and then just hope that the RNG doesn't fuck things up. Anyway for being a 5 week project, this game is bad. Very bad. And technical.
The addresses 004A, 004B and 004C determine where the three items spawn. There are 4 holes that might contain items per screen. If the RNG lands on 0 - 3, the items appear in the screen north of the starting position, 4 - 7 east, 8 - 11 south and 12 - 15 west. The holes themselves are numbered from the top left, all the way to the right, then going to the next line. For example, pit number 6 is the middle, right pit in the eastern section. However, the fun stuff doesn't end here. Another thing which is affected by the RNG is where you can call the Mother Spider (005B), and to make shit worse, the actual spot where you have to stand in the final Green Turd-land kind of cooperates with this RNG. Yeah. Really. And up until now, you thought this game was nothing but doo-do. Now you know it's a really, really advanced piece of doo-do. Like if you shat out a Nokia 3110.
There are a total of 16 different set-ups, and the set-ups depend on which frame you press the button (also known as B) on the title screen. Believe it or not, we actually TASed all 16 set-ups! No, not really. We didn't. But we did deep calculations, number crunching and called in a few favors to be able to utilize the Higgs Boson only to find out that the first set-up was the optimal. Boo! Major bummer. What that means is that holding the button during power-on gives you the optimal RNG. That's a fuckaton if I ever heard one.
So with all this in mind, we're ready to play the damn game. E.T. travels on a world map which is designed like a cube. E.T. starts off in the Green Turd Land, and to each of the four directions, we have an area with holes, and there's also an urban area which is located "behind" the start zone (pick up a die and see how it behaves and you'll get the basic idea). Once you've wrapped your head around that tractor, it's time to hit the pits. Every now and then, an arrow will appear on top of the screen. Stretching E.T.'s neck at this point will make him teleport to the screen in the direction the arrow is pointing, which is an awesome way to move around. As mentioned earlier, the objective is to drop into the pits. Once you've landed in said pit, all you can do is pick up any item if you're lucky enough to find one, and then float out of the pit, and this is the point where E.T. collapsed. When you are on the overworld, all that it takes for E.T. to drop into a pit is for a single pixel of his body to touch it. Yeah, even the head is enough. Sounds fair? No. Well it gets worse. When you leave a pit and try to leave it by just floating up, and leaving on the upper part makes you instantly fall back into the pit when leaving. No kidding. It's practically impossible to leave a pit by going up out of it. Awesome. Anyway after fixing the phone, E.T. has to find the Mother Spider-hex and order pizza. As soon as the pizza-counter appears on top of the screen, all that's left to do is race to the landing zone. And wait. And wait. And wait. As you haven't seen in this TAS, Dick Tracy is after E.T.'s phone. Every time he shows up, he steals a part of it! That monster! However, that isn't the greatest issue with him. If Dickard is on screen when the Mother Spider is supposed to pick up E.T., the ship won't appear! Dickard might appear as an evil man, but in all honesty, if you just observe his memory address (002B), you might cut him some slack. It's not his fault he's confused. There's also a scientist-man who brings E.T. to the lab, but then all E.T. has to do is walk out of there. Confusingly enough, we never see him in this TAS.
In the very end of the movie, we just stand still and wait for a long time (Until the pizza timer has reached zero twice). That's actually needed in order to complete the game! After teleporting back to the starting zone, no more buttons are being pressed during this run.
Anyway that's the game. Steal parts for a phone, order pizza, avoid the white men and jump into a pimped-out ride. And we did it in less than 30 seconds.
adelikat: Oh god, what have I done
Cardboard: I still haven't recovered. Back during the creation of this TAS some months ago, I came to the realization that I was so deep into the shit that I probably was the one person in the world who knew the most about this game. What's even sadder is that back then, I was taking a class on mathematical statistics, and I've forgotten most of that, but I can recall almost everything regarding this TAS and the technology of the game. It's just not sad. It's fucking pathetic. Little wonder why I never get any. I must add that this game was much tougher to TAS than one might think. And it wasn't even remotely fun.
turska: The run isn't the most entertaining, but it does have TAS-like qualities and it's short enough to keep the viewer watching for its sub-minute runtime.
E.T. is very infamous and a TAS of it attracts lots of attention, as demonstrated by this suboptimal TAS, the high vote count for this submission, and numerous comments in the submission thread.
Additionally, we have accepted short TASes of famous bad games such as Baby Moses and The Cheetahmen in the past.
As such, I am accepting this run for publication.