New Mexico environmental regulators are blocking two companies from digging up a New Mexico landfill in search of a rumoured cache of what some consider the worst Atari video game of all time.
Game cartridges for E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, based on Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster hit film, were reportedly dumped in the landfill in the 1980s, according to the Alamogordo Daily News.
New Mexico Environment Department spokesman Jim Winchester said on Wednesday that an approved waste excavation plan (WEP), was needed before any dig could begin.
Alamogordo city commissioners approved the search in June.
However, Winchester said state environmental officials had control of the WEP’s final approval, and it was rejected on February 27.
The companies haven’t yet submitted a new one, Winchester said.
Atari paid Steven Spielberg tens of millions of dollars to licence the wildly popular 1982 movie’s name. In the game, the player takes on the role of the titular alien and tries to elude FBI agents while collecting pieces of a telephone to call E.T.’s spaceship.
The end result was a huge commercial dud that caused the troubled company’s worth to sink even further.
Atari purportedly disposed of millions of game cartridges and other equipment by the truckload at the landfill. The area’s supposed role as a gaming burial ground has snowballed into mythic status over the years.
Fuel Entertainment and LightBox Interactive recently announced plans to search the landfill for the game.
The companies plan to record the dig for a documentary to be released by Microsoft. Filmmakers have even offered fans the chance to enter a giveaway of anything that might be unearthed.
Catherine Pasciak, a producer for LightBox, said the company still planned to travel to Alamogordo, if and when the project had approval.
The filmmakers have already shot some interviews, she said.
A 2004 study found elevated levels of several chemicals in the landfill, prompting the New Mexico Environment Department to request further testing. Test results found “22 compounds of concern,” according to the agency.