TIME Video Games

Call of Duty Advanced Warfare Stars Kevin Spacey’s Creepy-Looking Eyeball

The eleventh Call of Duty game ships on November 4.

I’m not sure what we’re supposed to take away from this surprise, presumably forced-early trailer for the next Call of Duty game. It stars Kevin Spacey ungracefully speechifying (well, it’s graceful as far as Spacey’s delivery is concerned — it’s the speech itself that made me wince), sneering and all but twisting the ends of an invisible Snidely Whiplash mustache as his neocon bombast is intercut with sizzle clips of people doing physically impossible things. The next season of House of Cards this definitely isn’t.

But that’s Call of Duty for you, and in the end, when’s the last time you played a Call of Duty for the story anyway?

The trailer wasn’t supposed to drop until Sunday, but it sounds like Destructoid and Variety reverse-engineered Spacey’s involvement, then Destructoid posted the leaked trailer, which in turn seems to have forced Activision’s hand: that trailer went up on the official Call of Duty YouTube channel early this morning (also above), along with the below teaser trailer that stars Spacey’s eyeball, showing us what eyeballs do:

That eyeball might be impressive from a technical standpoint if Quantic Dream and Heavy Rain and The Dark Sorcerer didn’t exist. As for the game’s rendition of Spacey, all I can say is the uncanny valley is as wide as it is deep here.

But then when’s the last time you played a Call of Duty for the graphics anyway?

The gameplay details — multiplayer in particular, which is why I suspect most do play Call of Duty these days — we’ll have to wait a little longer for (the trailer confirms the game ships on November 4, though doesn’t list supported platforms, just that the footage in the trailer was rendered on Xbox One). In the meantime, enjoy 2:46 of power-drunk Kevin Spacey, a platoon of invisible drones, one of the Crysis nanosuit guys jumping around, some Halo UNSC drop-ships, the Morpheus vs. Agent fight on a moving truck from The Matrix Revolutions, someone in a gatling-happy Armored Core suit, someone doing a decent Spider-Man impersonation and some racy drone-on-drone action.

MORE: The History of Video Game Consoles – Full

TIME Video Games

Kevin Spacey Stars in Call of Duty Trailer in Nod To House of Cards Role

The actor lends his face and likeness to the upcoming video game, playing the role of a power-hungry head of a private military corporation

The new trailer for the upcoming Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare was released on Thursday and it features a very familiar face. Kevin Spacey lends his voice and face to the video game as the head of a private military corporation who goes rogue and declares war on the American government.

Spacey has appeared in video games before—notably in the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 2 game Superman Returns—yet his latest appearance is also an obvious nod to his House of Cards character, Frank Underwood, the maniacal and unscrupulous politician who is frequently shown playing Call of Duty-like video games to relax. (Notably missing: that Southern twang of Underwood’s.)

Also appearing Thursday was a brief Instagram video, also featuring Spacey in diabolical character:

#ANewEra of Call of Duty arrives May 4th.

A video posted by Call of Duty (@callofduty) on

The trailer wasn’t intended for release until Sunday, but after an online leak, Activision, the publisher of Call of Duty, posted the trailer to YouTube early. The game is slated for release on November 4.

TIME legal

Doom Creator Accused of Stealing Virtual Reality Tech, Taking It to Oculus

Oculus VR

ZeniMax claims id Software co-founder John Carmack pilfered virtual reality tech when he quit to join Oculus VR last year, though both Carmack and Oculus are flatly denying the charges.

Well this sounds ugly, and bound to get uglier: John Carmack, the fellow gamers know best for helping birth Doom, and who left id Software last year to take a job as chief technology officer with Oculus Rift headset designer Oculus VR (who were in turn recently snatched up by Facebook for a cool $2 billion), has been accused by his former employer, ZeniMax, of purloining virtual reality secrets the games publisher claims belong to it, not Oculus VR.

ZeniMax Media, which also owns Bethesda Game Studios (The Elder Scrolls series and Fallout 3) and Arkane Studios (Dishonored) claims that Carmack was involved in “extensive VR research and development” during his tenure at ZeniMax, according to the Wall Street Journal. That, says ZeniMax, gives it dibs on “key technology used by Oculus to develop and market the Oculus Rift,” and thus the right to seek compensation.

According to the Journal, ZeniMax is staking its case on allegations that Carmack was in touch with Oculus VR founder Palmer Luckey before leaving ZeniMax, that Carmack received a prototype headset from Luckey, and that he made innovations to the headset, which he then demoed during a convention.

“ZeniMax’s intellectual property rights arise by reason of extensive VR research and development works done over a number of years by John Carmack while a ZeniMax employee, and others,” writes ZeniMax in a press statement (via Engadget). “ZeniMax provided necessary VR technology and other valuable assistance to Palmer Luckey and other Oculus employees in 2012 and 2013 to make the Oculus Rift a viable VR product, superior to other VR market offerings.”

The statement continues:

The proprietary technology and know-how Mr. Carmack developed when he was a ZeniMax employee, and used by Oculus, are owned by ZeniMax. Well before the Facebook transaction was announced, Mr. Luckey acknowledged in writing ZeniMax’s legal ownership of this intellectual property. It was further agreed that Mr. Luckey would not disclose this technology to third persons without approval. Oculus has used and exploited ZeniMax’s technology and intellectual property without authorization, compensation or credit to ZeniMax. ZeniMax and Oculus previously attempted to reach an agreement whereby ZeniMax would be compensated for its intellectual property through equity ownership in Oculus but were unable to reach a satisfactory resolution. ZeniMax believes it is necessary to address these matters now and will take the necessary action to protect its interests.

Oculus’s response? Balderdash: “It’s unfortunate, but when there’s this type of transaction, people come out of the woodwork with ridiculous and absurd claims,” an Oculus VR representative told the Journal. “We intend to vigorously defend Oculus and its investors to the fullest extent.”

And Carmack himself has weighed in on Twitter:

That’s all we know so far, which is to say that it’s best to stay off the playing field just now in terms rallying for one side or another, since the only folks who know who’s telling (or twisting) the truth are John Carmack, ZeniMax and Oculus VR.

TIME Video Games

The Best Minecraft Homage to BioShock Infinite Yet

If you stepped through a tear in space-time (like BioShock Infinite's Booker), you'd probably find a version of Mojang's game dubbed Homagecraft.


Minecraft renditions of BioShock Infinite‘s cloud-cruisin’ Columbia are a dime a dozen nowadays, but I’ve never seen one as embellished as this. Just look at the colors in that skybox, at the arcing sky rails, at the towering statuary, and at all the fussy little details like flower boxes beneath windows — and those windows with their exquisite tracery, and the way the designers used subtly different colors to block-texture the buildings and walkways.

Then check out the green vistas way way down below. You’re not supposed to be able to see all that, what with Columbia being a cloud-hidden city and all, but it works here. In fact it’s all the more impressive knowing this block-homage to Irrational Games’ metaphysical opus actually lives up in the air, somewhere.

That somewhere would be The VoxelBox, a free-build, creativity-focused community with its own Minecraft texture and mod packs whose members attempt to craft ridiculously ornate homages to various worlds — or entirely new ones from scratch. The community’s server doesn’t support survival or PvP play, and the FAQ notesthere are only very rarely any monsters, and it’s nearly impossible to die.” Which explains how you wind up with the bandwidth to create something as ambitious as this.

You can see all of the images stacked on imgur here.


TIME Video Games

An Xbox First: Microsoft’s Xbox One to Be Sold in China

Microsoft's Xbox One will be one of the first foreign game consoles sold in the country since China banned foreign game system sales in 2000.

Remember that story about China unbolting its ironclad gates to foreign game system sales back in January? It looks like Microsoft’s going to be one of the first foreign companies to walk through, taking its Xbox One where no Xbox has (legally) gone before: Microsoft says its flagship games console will go on sale in China this September.

It’s part of a deal with China-based media conglomerate BesTV, a subsidiary of Shanghai Media Group, that describes itself as “principally engaged in the provision of technical services, content services and marketing services for TV terminals, computer terminals and mobile terminals through media source platforms.”

China instigated a ban on selling game consoles not made by Chinese companies back in 2000. The ban included unscientific concerns about players’ mental well-being, and in the end probably had more to do with keeping foreign corporations out.

But the games market in 2014 is a totally different animal (among other things, it’s far more lucrative), and you have to assume the Chinese government’s motivations are economic — that China’s State Council views the financial rewards now outweighing any supposed cultural concerns.

China’s the most populous nation on the planet, after all, with over half a billion gamers (according to Microsoft). It’s also long been a wellspring for design essentials like asset creation — one of the most expensive aspects of large-scale game design — in games played everywhere else. So Microsoft’s Yusuf Mehdi isn’t just grandstanding in the following video when he says there’s an “opportunity to create globally and locally created content.” That’s already been happening in spite of the ban for years.

After China lifted the ban in January, foreign companies were to seek the approval of the Chinese government to get officially green-lit to make and sell game systems in the country. Microsoft seems to have done this very quickly, and its gateway in (and perhaps government-liaised gatekeeper) will be BesTV. (And isn’t it interesting that U.S.-based Microsoft is first through the door, not Sony or Nintendo, both Japan-based companies, which may or may not have anything to do with historical China-Japan tensions.)

Not that selling popular foreign game consoles is any kind of business bonanza guarantee. As Games in Asia noted last September, it’s not like China’s gaming demographic is on tenterhooks to buy Xboxes and PlayStations and Wii Us through legitimate channels. The gray market already handles most of that demand, and it sounds like it’ll probably be significantly more expensive to go through legit channels once you factor in the cost of new games (to say nothing of piracy’s impact). Regardless, it’ll be fascinating to watch what happens this fall, and how it’ll impact Sino-American relations rolling forward.


Watch a Man Play Mario 64 While Blindfolded

62bitgaming / Twitch

But how can you tell which mushroom is which?

The Nintendo 64 masterpiece Super Mario 64 was the bane of my youth. It was one of the first three-dimensional platforming video games, and beyond tricky jump sequences, the game also had hundreds of puzzles to solve. But what would make a hard game even harder? Playing it blindfolded.

That’s exactly what the two guys of 62bitgaming attempted—and they succeeded. Last night the duo completed the game and beat Bowser. The player manning the controller covered his eyes with a standard-issue sleeping mask while the other shouted directions in his ear. Left! Right! Attack!

Beating Bowser (seen in the video here) while blind is a huge accomplishment, but the entire game is tough, from getting the first star to navigating the castle. Here’s the entire game from start to finish, over six hours of groping.

What’s next for the duo? Since it’s in 3D and slower than its predecessors, Mario 64 might actually be one of the easier Mario games to beat blindfolded. Call us when you’ve finished the high-speed last levels of the original Mario Bros.

TIME Video Games

Just Kidding: The Amazing Spider-Man 2 Is Available for Xbox One After All

Matt Peckham for TIME

The Xbox One version of Beenox's open-world web-swinger is downloadable from Microsoft's Xbox Games Store now, despite Activision's suggestions a few weeks ago that it wouldn't be.

The plot thickens: Activision’s gone ahead and unceremoniously released The Amazing Spider-Man 2 for Xbox One after originally intimating the game had been delayed indefinitely. “We are working with Microsoft in an effort to release The Amazing Spider-Man 2 video game on Xbox One,” an Activision spokesperson told Eurogamer a few weeks ago.

Mission accomplished? As I type this, the full game is available for download from Microsoft’s Xbox One Games Marketplace. That’s a picture at right of the Xbox One sale screen snapped with my phone’s camera. As you can see, the game’s just under 10GB and runs $60. It may well have been released in error, though I haven’t (yet) confirmed that.

Beenox’s sequel to 2012’s reasonably well-received The Amazing Spider-Man — released in tandem with Columbia’s film franchise reboot — is also available today for 3DS, PS3, PS4, Wii U, Windows and Xbox 360. No one knows why the Xbox One version vanished, or why it’s reappeared now, but it’s probably good news for Spidey fans who happen to be Xbox One owners. And it’s definitely good news for Microsoft’s platform, presently battling perception issues related to performance competence (particularly in relation to multi-platform games like The Amazing Spider-Man 2). At this point, the delay still appears to be in effect for physical copies of the Xbox One version of the game, which GameStop lists as shipping July 1 (note that’s probably just a placeholder date, not a serious estimate).

If the game’s finished and purchasable (and by finished, I mean as bug-free and fine-tuned as any of the other versions), it stands to reason that something very strange and perhaps bureaucratic is transpiring behind the scenes. No, it wouldn’t be retailers crying foul because the game’s available for day-one digital download: the game is also available digitally (as I type this) on the PlayStation 4. And in Microsoft’s Xbox One Same-Day Digital Availability FAQ, Microsoft writes “All Xbox One Games will have a digital version unless there is a required physical peripheral (e.g. Skylanders Swap Force).” So nothing obvious is in conflict.

If I had to guess, I’d say someone pulled the trigger by mistake and we’ll see it disappear before the day’s out. Activision doesn’t do things by halves, especially not multi-platform tie-ins to major franchise movies (unless the retail copies unexpectedly show up in stores today, too). I’ve asked Activision for an explanation, and I’ll update this article if my contacts respond. [Update: It looks like the downloadable version was intentional after all, and thus is here to stay; I’m also told the physical version should be in stores “in early May.”]

MORE: The History of Video Game Consoles – Full

TIME Video Games

Child of Light Review: A World as Lovely as It Is Dark and Deep

Ubisoft's budget-priced roleplaying fable riffs on beloved roleplaying tropes while serving up an evocative, hand-drawn fantasy pastiche with traces of Yoshitaka Amano and Hayao Miyazaki.

It’s easy to be seduced by the visual charm and intricacy of a game like Child of Light. It has so little competition, and high fidelity hand-drawn artwork looks prettier than ever on high-definition television screens with resolutions approaching the point at which individual pixels become as undifferentiated as paint on canvas.

But we’re also still at that point in the evolution of our hobby where transplanting elements from one medium to another — say the elegance of a Yoshitako Amano drawing or a Hayao Miyazaki animation into gaming’s interactive world-realizing dynamos — can assume pretend significance, especially if you think about video games in vertical terms: columns of concept unto themselves. It’s easy to be impressed by something that visually transcends its own medium, in other words, but that’s in some ways still playing catchup to others.

Limbo was a little like that: cleverly noir-ish and procedurally ambient with its minimalist silhouette-scapes, looking like nothing before it. But the game’s distinctive atmosphere overwhelmed and, in my view, ultimately overruled what little there was of that abstraction we label “gameplay.” I played it once and I’ve never felt compelled to return. It seemed more a snack of a game, a light-and-shadow Big Gulp, proof that you could look like an existentially sophisticated game without actually being one.

Ubisoft’s Child of Light — available April 30 for Windows, current and last-gen consoles — is in that sense the opposite of a game like Limbo. It’s an experience that deftly melds its painstakingly painting-like environs and allegorical fable-inspired narrative to a first-rate battle system: one unapologetically inspired by Final Fantasy-style roleplaying games, but with its own hidden depths and wrinkles.

To be clear, fighting’s most of what you get up to in Child of Light — in its case, squaring off against mythically composite dark fantasy foes: wolves, spiders, other kinds of spiders, stone golem-y things, gryphons, giants, other vaguely Scandinavian folk-creatures and so forth. You’ll encounter them perched in gnarled nooks or darting from shadowy crannies, sometimes patrolling ethereal skyways, sometimes guarding treasure chests, sometimes surveilling throughways to new areas. Combat’s one of gaming’s oldest tropes: the medium’s inflection of mythology’s archetypal “road of trials.” If you’re looking for an experience that transcends weighing statistical gains against escalating confrontations, this isn’t it: the hero’s transformation in Child of Light is still fundamentally duel-driven.

But it’s also encapsulated by something we’ve never seen in a game before, and at risk of violating my earlier point about novelty, there’s something fascinating about playing a game that unfurls in epic verse. Child of Light‘s story is told in a way that’s literally poem-like, its narrative beats delivered as metrical lines, shifting from loose to mathematically specific forms a bit like Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (which the game’s writer, Jeffrey Yohalem — a Writers Guild of America Award-winner — cites as inspiration). I found the approach a trifle awkward at first, partly because I wasn’t expecting it, partly because poetry by definition draws attention to its rhythmic strictures.

But by the time the game’s child protagonist was well on her way, soaring above the treetops and landing on lofty boughs or mountaintops, I couldn’t wait to see what Yohalem might do next, sometimes crafting beautiful singular-spoken couplets, at other points skillfully volleying lines (and line completions, and rhymes) between the game’s ensemble. It’s not merely the state of being a poem that’s interesting here — that alone risks feeling too much like a stunt — it’s that Yohalem’s written such a beautiful one that’s easily worth the price of admission.

While the game at first resembles an earthbound platformer that’ll use gravity to control your headway, it jettisons that notion early on by letting you take to the air and giving you the run of a freely explorable 2D puzzle-scape flush with enemies and progression-related conundrums wrapped up in hand-drawn vistas so beautifully wrought that simply having the freedom to wing through and admire them at your leisure becomes a reward unto itself. It’s a fairy tale pastiche where giants lumber like spooky golems along the horizon and startle flocks of birds, or where the sun peeks through purple-black clouds that drop legs of lightning — light and dark in breathtaking contrast, like daylight storms along the Rockies.

Looking only gets you so far, of course, so how does Child of Light play, battle-wise? Battles occur when you bump into enemies you can attempt to surprise from behind or fight head-on (or be startled by, to your disadvantage). Combat proceeds in quasi-realtime turns, your party members standing to one side of the screen, your opponents on the other, and a “who goes next” meter unwinding below. That sort of thing we’ve seen before (the game’s creator Patrick Plourde reminded me that Valkyrie Profile also takes this side-scroller-plus-turn-based-combat approach), but it’s the little wrinkles that add pizzazz to Ubisoft’s homage.

For instance, you can send your sentient companion firefly (named Igniculus) flitting about the combat screen to aid you or hinder your opponents (either using the gamepad’s right thumbstick, or letting someone else do so with a second gamepad). Hover over one of your party members while pulling the left gamepad trigger and Igniculus doles out health points, or hover over an enemy while doing the same and Igniculus can slow their progress in the turn meter. Affecting combat readiness extends to successful strikes, which knock the victim back significantly, allowing you to formulate elaborate strategies fed by buckets of abilities, in turn fed by a melange of characters you’ll meet and bring into your party along the way.

Those characters have their own stories and roles to play, and their non-overlapping combat abilities dovetail with multiplex skill trees that scale masterfully as garden variety enemies and boss battles intensify in successive areas. You’ll want to play on “hard,” by the way, if you want the highest fidelity “these-very-specific-tactics-unlock-this-particular-battle” challenge, bearing in mind that the lower difficulty settings are aimed at younger, less experienced players: Plourde told me he was inspired to make a game that might be played together by both a parent and child. And while the skill trees tend toward low single-digit advances, the ramifications of each unlock feel quantifiably significant in execution. A simple +1 to combat damage in your ability tree results in a considerable advance in battle damage meted out, for instance. The appearance of skill nickel-and-diming is illusory, in other words.

Child of Light isn’t the world’s longest roleplaying game, though neither is it the shortest. There’s maybe a weekend’s worth of play here if you’re thoughtful and thorough and willing to ratchet up the difficulty setting. While you can keep playing at the end, if you’ve been thorough about side-questing I’m not sure there’s reason to, but then you’re only paying $15 for the privilege of rolling through once. If you’d like a comparison, Limbo costs $10 today, and offers a fraction as much to see, or do, or when all’s said and done, reflect on.

4.5 out of 5

Xbox One

TIME Technologizer

Microsoft’s Xbox Original Programming Strategy: Let’s Throw Lots of Spaghetti at the Wall

Atari dig
Zak Penn, director of of an upcoming Xbox original documentary about Atari, and Andrew Reinhard, archaeologist, hold up an Atari 2600 E.T. game cartridges excavated in a New Mexico landfill on April 26, 2014, in Alamogordo, N.M. Microsoft

The company is taking an active hand in bringing video to its console, but it's still figuring out the details

Back in May of last year, when Microsoft unveiled its Xbox One console, among the long list of announcements was the news that the company was getting into the business of creating original entertainment programming. But about the only concrete detail it shared at the time was the fact that Steven Spielberg was going to executive-produce a live-action series based on the Xbox’s blockbuster Halo game franchise.

This week, the company is going to have lots more to say on the subject at NewFronts, an event in New York where producers of online video are sharing upcoming shows with the advertising community. I attended a recent preview hosted by two Xbox Entertainment Studios executives with impeccable Hollywood credentials: President Nancy Tellem (the former CEO of CBS Entertainment) and Executive VP Jordan Levin (the former CEO of the WB Network). The duo talked about six “Xbox Originals” projects Microsoft has greenlit, plus another five in development, and showed us trailers for some of them. They also discussed the company’s goal of offering interactive entertainment rather than traditional, sedentary couch-potato stuff.

Xbox Originals

The main takeaway I got from the sneak peek is that Microsoft is still in the process of figuring out what it wants to do with original programming on Xbox.

I don’t mean that as a slam: Tellem and Levin both kept saying that the effort is in a mode of experimentation. “I’ve been at this long enough to know that you just have to step up to the plate and keep swinging until something connects with the audience,” Tellem said.

Some of the Xbox Originals that are in the works:

Signal to Noise: A series of documentaries about technology’s impact on the world, produced by Simon Chinn (Searching for Sugar Man, Man on a Wire) and Jonathan Chinn. The first one, which chronicles the fall of Atari and focuses on the legendary idea that the company buried unsold E.T. game cartridges in a New Mexico landfill, has already made news: The filmmakers just dug up the cartridges.

Every Street United: Tying into the World Cup in Rio De Janeiro, and debuting this June, this is a reality series involving street-soccer players from around the world, culminating in a match in Rio.

Two Halo projects: The Xbox’s signature game will be the subject both of the live-action series executive-produced by Steven Spielberg and an animated feature (due later this year) executive-produced by Ridley Scott.

Bonnaroo: Xbox will stream the Tennessee music festival in June, allowing viewers to switch between two stages of live performances.

Humans: Based on a Swedish series and co-produced with the UK’s Channel 4, this is a one-hour drama set in a parallel present in which people have eerily life-like robotic servants.

Jash project: In development, a still-to-be-named half-hour featuring a comedy collective whose members include Sarah Silverman, Michael Cera, Reggie Watts, Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim.

Extraordinary Believers: A show in development from the creators of Robot Chicken, which inserts silly 3D animated characters who look like they’re from a sword-and-sorcery world into what seems to be unscripted video shot in everyday locations.

In addition, Tellem and Levin played up the idea of turning additional Xbox game franchises such as Forza Motorsport and Gears of War into series or movies, without providing details.

Everything Microsoft is announcing is designed to be a potential hit with typical 18-34-year-old guys who like to play video games: There are no shows about economic policy or wedding dresses or medieval folk music. Still, within that framework, there’s a fair amount of diversity and programming that also might be of interest to those of us who happen not to be 18-to-34-year-old guys. The company seems to be aiming for variety rather than one buzz-generating blockbuster along the lines of Netflix’s House of Cards.

The part of Microsoft’s plans that’s the fuzziest–but that has the greatest possibility of helping it stand out from the streaming video crowd–is the interactivity angle. Tellem and Levin kept talking about how exciting it was, but they didn’t have too much to say about the specifics, other than the ability to choose a Bonnaroo stage, the possible integration of Skype videoconferencing into some shows and a few other general ideas.

That said, Microsoft has one big edge on Netflix, Amazon and other companies that are generating exclusive original entertainment for their streaming services: In the Xbox One, it controls its own powerful hardware platform, with advanced features such as the Kinect 2 sensor. The opportunity to do great, interactive things is there, at least. And if Microsoft makes any of the Xbox Originals interactive in a way that captures the imagination of viewers, it really will be news. It’s just that it’s too early to have an opinion about its chances.

Also still a bit vague: Microsoft’s precise distribution plans. It’s saying that Every Street United will be available on Xbox Video for Xbox One, Xbox 360, Windows and Windows Phone, and that Signal to Noise will be exclusive to Xbox One and Xbox 360. But it’s not yet spelling out which Xbox Originals will require a subscription to the Xbox Live service and which won’t–it sounds like there will be some of each–and whether any will be ad-supported.

I also asked Tellem whether all the episodes of any of the Xbox Originals series might be released in one fell swoop, a la House of Cards. “We’re going to do some experimentation,” she told me. “I’m not against binge viewing by any means. There are some projects which lend themselves to it, and others that don’t.”

The notion of Microsoft taking an active hand in creating TV shows and movies that will be available only on Xbox is new, but its consoles are already major players in streaming entertainment. (Owners already spend more time using their Xboxes to watch video and listen to music than they do playing online games.) Tellem says that the company is going to be patient with this effort: “Microsoft understands the value of content, and that this road is just beginning.” For now it feels like it’s anyone’s guess where it’s going to lead.

MORE: The History of Video Game Consoles – Full

TIME Technologizer

E.T. Is Right Here: Lost Atari Cartridges Unearthed in New Mexico Dump

Atari Cartridges
A member of the excavation team brandishes an E.T. cartridge at a landfill in Alamogordo, New Mexico Microsoft

Video game company Atari Inc. reportedly discarded hundreds of video game cartridges, including cartridges for its unsuccessful E.T. game, in 1983 after a crash in the gaming market. The materials have now been recovered by excavators for an upcoming documentary

The 1982 Atari 2600 video game version of E.T. is famous for several things, none of them good–including being both terrible and terribly unsuccessful, so much so that it helped drive Atari to the brink of death. But the thing which has become the defining fact about it is the sad fate of the unsold cartridges: The company supposedly had them dumped in a landfill in Alamogordo, New Mexico and then covered over with concrete. Here’s the New York Times writing about the burial in 1983.

Last year, Fuel Entertainment secured the right to excavate the landfill in search of the lost games, a project it undertook on Saturday. The archeological effort hit pay dirt: The diggers have uncovered at least hundreds pof cartridges, including both E.T. and some titles which were best-sellers at one time, including Asteroids, Centipede and Space Invaders. (Whether that’s the extent of the trove we don’t yet know–as recounted in the Snopes entry on the burial, the legend has always been that millions of cartridges were dumped.)

The excavation was filmed for an upcoming documentary which will premiere as an exclusive offering on Xbox. More details at Microsoft’s Xbox Wire.

Now that this important matter has been addressed, maybe it’ll prompt someone to investigate the other iconic dumping of a tech product flop: The unsold Lisa computers Apple allegedly got rid of in Logan, Utah, also in the mid-1980s.

Bonus material: See below for the original TV commercial for the E.T. game. Even when being advertised, it doesn’t look so hot.

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