Opinion page by Duane Alan Hahn.
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This isn't the traditional type of game map that most people are used to, but I hope it will still be useful enough to help people understand how the sites in the game are connected.
The terrain in E.T. for the Atari 2600 is made up of six distinctive sites which may seem to be attached to each other in strange ways, but they are actually wrapped around a cube. The top of every well site leads to the forest (top of the cube) while the bottom takes you to Washington, D.C. (bottom of the cube). The four well sites are also attached at the sides in a continuous loop around the middle of the cube. Just picture a Rubik's Cube with the six E.T. sites attached to each side.
Just remember that once you move to or from the forest or Washington, D.C., you basically warp to a specific cube orientation. For example, you can't expect to walk up through the forest, through a well screen, then reach Washington, D.C. as if you were walking on an actual cube. It is a cube world, but there is an orientation warp.
Below is a flattened out side view of the cube. Whether you choose to picture it as a 3D cube or flattened out, it should be clear now that the sites are connected in a specific way. It's not the tangled mess of connections that many newbies seem to believe it is. If you are on one of the well screens, up always leads to the forest and down always leads to Washington, D.C.
The forest is connected to the well sites in the following one-way configuration because of the orientation warp.
Washington, D.C. at the bottom of the cube is connected to the well sites in this one-way configuration because of the orientation warp.
Notice how the top and bottom connections are the same as the forest, but the side connections are switched. That's because of the orientation warp and your position on the cube. The connections in this game can be confusing for a newbie, but as you can see, there are only three flattened out configurations to remember. It's pretty easy once you get used to it.
Just like in real life, there are dangers to avoid in the cube world of E.T. Do not use the right side of the forest to exit if you don't want to fall into a well. Leaving from the right side always lands E.T. in the top center well on the Log Screen.
Just like in real life, there are dangers to avoid in the cube world of E.T. Do not exit from the left side of Washington, D.C. if you don't want to fall into a well. Leaving from the left side always lands E.T. in the bottom center well on the Log Screen.
Until I can think of something better, I call this the Tall Twins Screen. If you want to leave using the left side, make sure E.T. is in the middle (vertically) to keep E.T. from falling into one of the wells.
I call this the Diamond Screen since the wells kind of look like diamonds.
I call this the Arrow Screen or the Less Than, Greater Than Screen. If you want to leave using the right side, make sure E.T. is in the middle (vertically) to keep E.T. from falling into a well.
I call this the Log Screen or the Frogger screen since it kind of reminds me of logs floating down a river.
Jump in a well if you need to pause the game. The FBI agent and the scientist cannot touch E.T. when he is in a well.
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Although the world of E.T. is a 3D cube, wearing 3D glasses will not help you play the game. They will only make you look goofy and give you a headache.