An Alien, Atari and Christmas

It seems to me that television commercials were better in the 1980’s. Perhaps everything seems better when you’re a kid, but as I watch a replay of a holiday commercial from 1982, I can’t help to notice the goose bumps on my arm. E.T. was a very likable alien. To see him walking around in a Santa costume, playing a game on the Atari 2600, brings to mind fond childhood memories of the holidays. It’s a shame that this game almost single-handedly brought down the entire video game industry the following year.

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Justin M. Salvato

Writer/Vlogger at Retroist
Seeker of 1980s nostalgia, rummager of vintage computers and player of retro video games.When not writing posts of The Retroist, I'm converting Retroist audio podcasts to Retroist video podcasts.My own videos can be found at
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6 thoughts on “An Alien, Atari and Christmas

  1. vinvectrex says:

    This is a great ad. So great in fact, that I couldn’t wait to get my hands on that ET cartridge. And, while it wasn’t my favorite – I kept falling into those holes – I still have a fondness for the game today. I realize that this puts me in a very select group of people. But, I can’t help but feel that if they only fixed the fall into the pit mechanics that the gameplay otherwise was okay.

  2. Graphically, for the 2600, it was very good. However, the holes were nuts, because sometimes you’ll be stuck for minutes trying to float out… ARGH! There were a couple of other questionable things about the game, like running between 2 screens continually… But if they spent 8 months to a year working on it, we would have a classic. Shame.

  3. Absolutely a fantastic game commercial. I’ve stated int he forums before that I still kind of like this title, I didn’t hate it as much as most of my friends. Besides, I stumbled on the Yar’s housefly easter egg one day and thought I might be losing my mind. Ha ,ha. :)

  4. Atari Adventure Square says:

    Love watching this!
    I actually had lots of fun playing this one, once I figured it was easier to play the game without FBI guys and scientists making a beeline for you every two seconds.
    And the holes were easier to get out of after a while (though rarely on a first try) as long as you didn’t get any parts of you (like the tip of your head) in contact with the hole graphic once outside.
    Still not an easy game.
    But seeing this commercial brings back the magic of those early video game years, where the numerous titles were as much trial and error for the gamers as for the designers.
    Too bad money always comes in the way of fun (though in today’s era of free online Flash games, it’s another ballpark – three cheers for online Fun!).

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