E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial  Atari VCS/2600 FAQ
Version 1.0
Last Updated on 10/22/01
Written by Kristine Roper
E-Mail Address: Kathara@spearnet.net
- Introduction
- Getting Started
- Controls and Game Variations
- The Characters
- The Map
- The Zones
- Dealing With Pits
- Life and Death
- Scoring
- Easter Eggs and Glitches
- Frequently Asked Questions


Hello, and thank you for taking the time to check out this FAQ. This is the
third FAQ I've written for the Atari 2600 (the others being Raiders of the Lost
Ark and Riddle of the Sphinx.) I've decided to write this because I've noticed
that E.T. has been one of the most requested FAQs for the 2600, so since I'm
sick with the flu I decided I'd use my free time constructively. :)

As always, feel free to post this anywhere, as long as it's intact and I
receive credit for it. If you have anything else to add please e-mail me and
I'll include it in the next version, and even give you credit for it. (And in
case you're wondering, my Mac crashed with all my extra Raiders notes so an
update for that FAQ won't be coming for awhile yet.)


E.T. is nearly impossible to figure out without a manual. For those who've
never seen the instructions, the following is a brief overview of how the game

The goal of the game is to guide E.T. through several screens to find three
pieces of a telephone. These pieces are hidden at the bottom of three of the
numerous pits scattered over the map. Once all three pieces are found you then
must call the mother ship and wait on the landing pad for it to find you, pick
you up, and end the game. Meanwhile, an FBI agent and a scientist are doing
their best to discourage your progress, and if you deplete all your energy
you'll lose one of your three lives.

When you find a phone piece, a graphic of a telephone slowly builds in the top
left corner. When you finally phone home, a timer appears in the upper right
corner. The pictures in the middle are the various Zones found throughout the
game (see "The Zones" below).

More details will appear later on in this FAQ, but that's the general idea.


Controls are fairly simple. Only the left joystick is used.

Start the Game: Push the fire button either at the title screen or at the end
screen. Naturally, you can push RESET as well. However, if you use the button
at the end screen your game will continue and your score will be cumulative.
The RESET button completely starts over.

Move E.T.: Push the stick in any direction.

Run: Hold down the fire button and move the stick in any direction.

Activate a Zone: Stand still and push the fire button. E.T.'s neck will stretch
and the effect of the Zone will instantly take effect.

Get Out of a Pit: Hold down the fire button and push up. E.T. will slowly rise
out of the pit. See "The Pits" below if you're still having trouble.

Game variations differ only slightly. Game 1 has both the FBI Agent and the
Scientist, Game 2 has only the FBI Agent, and Game 3 has neither. All three
games have Elliot.

Flipping the switch to the A difficulty setting prevents the mothership from
landing if any other character is on the screen with E.T.


E.T.: This one is pretty obvious. You control E.T. and everything he does.

FBI Agent: He looks like a man wearing an orange trench coat and hat. If he
touches you, he will steal one phone piece you've managed to collect and
re-hide it. If you haven't found any pieces yet he'll take all your Reese's'
Pieces instead. If you have neither phone pieces or any Reese's' Pieces, don't
worry about him. :)

The Scientist: He looks like a man wearing a white lab coat. If he touches you,
he will carry you back to his building in town and then let you go. You can
break away if you hold down the fire button and push the joystick around, but
this takes up energy. Normally this is a minor annoyance, but when you're on
the landing pad waiting for the timer to count down you'll want to make sure to
avoid him.

Elliot: Ah, your only friend. Elliot only makes his appearance when you call
him or when you die. Give him nine Reese's' Pieces and he'll give you a phone
piece if you're missing any. Give him less than that and you'll receive bonus
points when the game is over (you'll also get points if you give him nine

The Mothership: The mothership only appears when you've successfully called
home and are on the landing pad when the timer runs out. You can have fun with
it through a few glitches mentioned below.


The "world" of E.T. consists of only six screens - a forest, a town, and four
screens filled with pits. The map is laid out like a cube; Picture the forest
on top, the town on the bottom, and the pit areas wrapped around the sides.
When you're on the forest or town screens, each direction leads to a different
pit screen. Keep this in mind because it's easy to become lost when you first
start playing.

Pits are darker green areas that appear in various shapes and sizes. Touching
one causes E.T. to fall inside, and it's a major pain trying to get back out.
However, you'll eventually have to fall into a few because the phone pieces are
located on the bottom of some of them. See "The Pits" for more info.

Also scattered throughout the map are dots that look like the same color as the
pits. These are Reese's' Pieces. E.T. can hold a maximum of nine Pieces at a
time, and you can either eat them to regain energy or give them to Elliot to
earn points. There are a limited amount of Pieces (around thirty or so) per

Oh, in case you're wondering, the screen you first appear on is the forest


This is probably the most confusing part of the game. As you move E.T. around
the map, you'll notice that different pictures appear at the top of the screen.
These pictures represent which Zone you are in. If you stand still and push the
fire button, various helpful effects will happen. The Zones are detailed below.

Arrows: These Zones will instantly warp you to the same spot on the adjacent
screen. If the arrow is pointing left, you'll move one screen left. If it's to
the right, you'll move one screen right, and so on. This is mainly used to
escape the FBI Agent and the Scientist. Unfortunately, it tends to do more harm
then good because most of the time you'll end up on top of a pit.

Circle with Dot: Push the fire button to eat one of your Reese's' Pieces, if you
have any. Each Reese's' Pieces you eat regains a little bit of energy.

Question Mark: Push the fire button to detect the presence of phone pieces. If
any phone pieces are on that screen, the pit it is hidden in will briefly
flash. Every pit screen should have one of these Zones, but in rare cases some
won't. For these screens you'll have to drop into each pit manually and hope
you get lucky.

Person Talking: Push the fire button to call Elliot and give him your Reese's'
Pieces. Unfortunately, Elliot will not appear if another character is on the
screen, and sometimes he'll just ignore you completely and not come at all.
Jerk. :)

Columns: Push the fire button to immediately send the FBI Agent and the
Scientist back to their respective buildings in town before then can come near
you. You can also use this on Elliot if you wish.

Phone: If you've found all three phone pieces, push the fire button to call the
mothership. A timer will appear in the upper-right corner of the screen. You'll
now have approximately 20-25 seconds to go find and stand on the landing pad
before the ship arrives. If you miss it or it's unable to land due to another
character on the screen, you must call again and start the wait over. (Note:
The picture really doesn't look like a phone...it looks more like a four-eyed
bug to me. However, it only occurs on one screen on the whole map so it's not
too difficult to figure out which one it is.)

Landing Pad: This is found only on the forest screen, and looks like a
rectangle with a smaller box inside of it. (It looks like a targeting scope to
me, but oh well.) Once you've called the mothership and the timer begins to
count down, stand in this Zone until the mothership arrives to finish the game.


Once you've hit the bottom of a pit, you need to get back out again (duh). Some
people have problems getting out, so here's a little guide in case you're

All you need to do is hold down the fire button and push up on the joystick.
E.T.'s neck will stretch and he'll slowly rise up to the top, using energy in
the process. Now comes the tricky part: Once you've reached the surface, do NOT
let go of the button. If you do, you'll immediately fall back down again and
have to start all over. Instead, keep the button held and move off to either
side of the pit. E.T.'s neck will automatically drop and - ta da! - you're back
on grass. Note: If you find you're still dropping back into the pit, move to
another side of the pit and you should be ok.

Another pit trick deals with the fall itself. If you quickly hold down the fire
button as E.T. is in the process of falling he will "freeze" in midair. You can
now either lower him down gently or raise him out of the pit. Either way, you
won't receive the full damage, but you'll still lose some energy as long as
E.T. is hovering.


E.T. begins the game with 9999 energy. Walking and falling into pits loses
energy, and eating Reese's' Pieces restores it (slightly). If E.T.'s energy
reaches zero, you lose one life. Elliot will then show up and bring E.T. back
to 1500 energy.

The following list shows the various energy gains and losses.

Each Step: Lose 1 energy.
Activating a Zone: Lose 19 energy.
Fall Into a Pit: Lose 269 energy.
Raise Out of a Pit: Lose approximately 100 energy on average (if you manage to
get out in one smooth motion).
Eat a Reese's' Pieces: Gain 341 energy.

You begin the game with three lives, but you can possibly gain an extra life.
Hidden in one of the pits is a wilted flower. You can only find it by manually
falling into every pit; The Question Mark Zone will not help you find it. Once
found, walk towards the flower until you see a smiley face at the top of the
screen. Push the fire button and watch the flower grow. Congratulations, you've
now gained an extra life. To leave this pit, walk back towards the right until
the up arrow re-appears. You can now leave normally.

If for some reason you want to die pretty quickly, the fastest way to do it is
to fall into a pit, raise yourself out, but instead of moving off to the side
keep moving left and right across the top of the pit. Your energy will drop
like a rock.


Scoring is pretty simple. If you lose the game, the only points you receive
will be from the Reese's' Pieces you gave Elliot (773 points for each one). If
you win, not only will you get points for Pieces, you'll also get points for
the amount of energy you had left on a one-for-one basis. Once the points have
been added up, you can continue to increase your score by pushing the fire
button to begin a new game. You can bring your score up to huge amounts if you
manage to keep playing (although the game might start glitching after a certain
amount). Note: Do NOT push the RESET button to start a new game. This will wipe
out your previous score and you'll have to start from scratch.


Turn on the system. Select game three and start it. Once you've landed,
immediately run down to the town screen and wait. You'll see the FBI Agent,
Scientist, and Elliot walk into their respective buildings.

Bring your energy level dangerously low. Call the mothership and stand on the
landing pad. If you can lose your last energy point at the exact moment the
mothership is supposed to land, the game will completely crash.

Call the mothership and stand on the landing pad. Push the fire button the
instant before the mothership lands. When it picks up E.T. his neck should
still be stretched and his butt will stick out of the bottom of the ship.

When you fall into a pit, quickly push the fire button the instant before you
hit the bottom. If you time it right, you should end up below the ground. You
will need to push the fire button before you can even attempt to leave the pit.

Start any game and grab all three pieces of the phone. Now grab seven Reese's'
Pieces and give them to Elliot. Now find the flower and bring it to life. It
should turn into a Yar and fly away. Finish the game and start a new one by
pushing the button. Repeat the process and the flower should turn into Indiana
Jones. Finish and start a third game. This time the initials "HSW" will appear
in your score. Note: If you find the flower before you complete the phone
pieces or before you give the candy to Elliot, the trick may not work.

There is another Easter Egg concerning the initials of Jerome Domurat. See the
Easter Eggs" section at www.digitpress.com
for details.


"Is it true there's a landfill somewhere containing a bazillion copies of this

Yes, it's true. Go check out www.snopes.com for the story.

"I remember reading something about making Indiana Jones appear. What was that

Check out the "Easter Eggs and Glitches" section above.

"Why doesn't Elliot come when I call him?"

He won't appear if another character is on the screen. If you're playing game
three, then sometimes he'll ignore you. This seems to happen if you've lost all
three lives on your previous game and started the current one with the fire

"Why doesn't the timer tick off all the marks?"

It's a programming glitch.

"The FBI Agent stole one of my phone pieces. Where did it go?"

He put it back in one of the pits. You'll have to go find it again.

"I missed the mothership. What now?"

If you still have all the phone pieces, you have to go back to the Phone Zone,
call it, and try waiting for it again.

"Why do the FBI Agent, Scientist, or Elliot sometimes get stuck at the bottom
of the screen when I repel them?"

It's another glitch. But take advantage of it...as long as the stuck character
is on the screen you don't have to worry about any of the others coming after

"Is it just me, or does E.T. have something between his legs?"

Oh, don't be such a perv. ;)

That's it for this version of the FAQ. If you have questions, comments, or
anything else to add, send me an e-mail. I'd be glad to hear from you. :)

Go to Digital Press HQ
Return to Digital Press Home