Well, this guy wanted to fix it, so he did. He hacked the kernel of the game, and made some necessary changes. Along the way, he explains quite a bit about why the game is the way it is, and why other games aren’t.
The myth: A lot of people blame poor collision detection for this problem. That is simply not true. The collision detection in E.T. is perfect. There are no bounding boxes like in more modern games. Collision detection happens at the pixel level. You can’t get any better than that. If you fall in to a well, it’s because your player character visually overlaps it.
The actual problem: We don’t want pixel-perfect collision detection!
The reason that people so easily fall in to wells is that they don’t expect to fall when, for example, E.T.’s head overlaps a well. After all, his feet are clearly on solid ground!