Environmental regulators rejected a proposal that would allow two companies to excavate a New Mexico landfill to find a collection of what's been called the worst video game of all time.

"E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial" Atari game cartridges are rumored to have been dumped in the Alamogordo landfill in the 1980s before it closed.

ET Atari video gameFuel Entertainment and LightBox Interactive want to search for the games and record the dig for a documentary to be released by Microsoft for the Xbox One console.

Alamogordo city officials approved the search in June, but environmental regulators rejected the waste excavation plan on Feb. 27.

A 2004 study found elevated levels of "22 compounds of concern" in the landfill, and the New Mexico Environment Department recommended that the EPA investigate further under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act commonly known as Superfund.

LightBox Interactive says the company still plans to film the documentary when the project is approved, but so far no revised waste excavation plan has been submitted.

It's estimated Atari paid $20 million to $25 million to license the 1982 blockbuster's name, and video game developers rushed to complete the project in just six weeks to get it out in time for Christmas.

In the game, players act as the stranded alien and try to collect pieces of a telephone so E.T. can phone home.

Atari made 5 million copies of the game and sold only 1.5 million — not nearly enough to recoup the development cost.

"E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial" turned out to be a financial drain for Atari.

Related on MNN:

Photo: nickstone333/flickr