I don't know why Spielberg decided to re-release ET. I think it's just a reminder that how quick those 20 years passed. I remember sitting in the cinema with my eyes all teary when ET was saying goodbye to everyone. Awww. The difference between then and now is that in 1982 franchise was in the shape of t-shirts, caps, money banks (I had one of those!) and other stuff. Warp 20 years in the future and our friend ET is digitally represented all over the place. There have been lots of ET games around, and our focus is on ET Phone Home in this review.
This is the first commercial game that I have seen made with Macromedia Flash! It is no joke but the entire game was made using it. I am not sure if there are other samples. A few QuickTime movies chucked in. Generally speaking the graphics are as bad as you can get. Static backgrounds with the main character animation as bad as it can be. ET's movements around the screen are painfully slow also.
The characters other than ET do not look like their celluloid counterparts whatsoever, which is a shame as Drew Barrimore was rather cute 20 years ago!
ET Phone Home is basically a kids’ game, which should be fun for any child over 8 years old. The game is composed of various puzzles around Eliot's home, from colour matching to sliding puzzles to more taxing ones of pushing and pulling boxes all over the place. ET starts his task by trying to find some components for his "phone" that should be built. Various items are placed all over the place, and finding them is just a matter of entering in to a room and picking up the item that glows there. For a child's game this eliminates the frustration of clicking on every single pixel to see if you can take it, which is so notorious of other point-and-click games, and is a well thought idea. The puzzles crop up when you try to take something, say you pick up the keys on the library and all the books fall down, so rearranging them composes the first puzzle. And so on.
The puzzles are taxing at some stages, but any average adult will finish the game in 2 hours or so, but to keep the children happy this game does exceed. Other than that there is nothing much to add to the gameplay.
Sound and Music
It is inevitable that the original characters the original game have grown up, as such the speech has nothing to do with the film. Even ET's voice is different. This is not the major problem of the sound though. The music in the background has a terrible hiss that could not be cured. It is sufficient for the game and sometimes even nice (it follows the movie score) but the quality is very bad.
I don't really know why people waste valuable licenses on such measly efforts. An ET game might have been beautifully executed, even as a puzzle game (take Artificial Intelligence the game, at least they asked Alexy Pajitnov (maker of Tetris) to make the puzzles!). If you have kids that like ET, this game will keep them occupied for a fun, albeit short time. If you're one of those old timers that saw the original ET release back in 82, you might consider buying it as an Easter present for your 10-year-old nephew instead.