Video game Easter eggs are fun extras for the fans and are usually even easier to find than the real thing--they might demand 10,000 coins, but you never need to stand up. But some of these little secrets, cheats or glitches are so well-hidden they stay out of sight for years, even with millions of gamers exploring every nook and cranny of the game world. For instance...
Right off the bat here's one that took nine years to find.
The jet ski racing game Wave Race: Blue Storm for the Nintendo Gamecube already had a secret password entry screen (accessed by pressing START+Z+X on the options menu) unlocking everything from dolphin riding to secret time attack competitions. The secret that no one managed to unlock, however, is the alternate voice track where the race announcer is replaced by a droll, bored dude who sarcastically derides your every move. Yes, this is real:
The cheat was based on messing around in the audio options and, sadly, the only three people who play with the audio options screen are the guy who programmed it, the guy testing it, and the guy who doesn't exist.
By entering a higher Scrabble score version of the Konami Code (L R L R UU DD AZX) after holding Z to change the sound displays waveform into a vertical rising fog, which isn't technobabble crossed with bad poetry but an actual description, you unlock the sarcastic announcer taking the piss out of you. This was presumably a placeholder track laid down before they could get the final one, but compared to the normal Captain Obvious Wave Race announcer ("YOU'RE IN FIRST PLACE") it's actually a huge improvement.
In 1991, a guy named Chris Houlihan won a Nintendo Power competition to have his name included in an official Nintendo game, the absolute closest Nintendo Power could get to bringing someone to orgasm. That might sound like good fun if you were born in the 90s, if you didn't know that Nintendo of America's localization team hates fun. That's why we've got 40 different DS games ending in "Z" but it takes two years to convert one Professor Layton.
But the NoA Grinch-based debugging team removed the entrance to Chris' room in the North American version. Fun fact: Chris' room only appears in the North American version.
So one team put it in, and their neighbors took it right back out. The two teams continued to put it in and out like it was a video game programming orgy, except passive-aggressive and aimed at making a child cry. So basically, exactly like what a video game programmer orgy would be like. Most entrance methods require insane combinations of explosions, superspeed and sudden falls. But it was all worth it, to find ... this.
Well it at least would have been worth it to Houlihan if anyone had been able to find the damn thing. The room was basically unknown until the invention of the Internet, and it only became widely known around the year 2002--thereby turning the most awesome kid's present ever into a level of psychological horror unknown outside of an asylum for Japanese special effects. Instead of being the coolest kid ever in 1991, when people were playing the game, Chris Houlihan now knows that his child self is being pondered by the dark soul of the Internet.
Metroid used a password system, an amazing step forward from other NES games which expected you to restart from Level 1--a video game satanic ritual in which you sacrificed your own life until you learned how to prevent your character from losing theirs, by which point it was far too late. One secret password unlocked all of Samus' weapons and powers, and one also unlocked her armor. Guess which was discovered first.
These passwords weren't just secret: They were impossible. The password system was crackable but had a parity check to reject faked entries, a check that these special passwords fail. They were an honest-to-God, hell-yes-we-get-to-use-this-phrase-at-last, security override built into the system. Even if you reverse-engineered the entire password system (and people have, because 8-bit exploration games are apparently much more important than curing cancer), you'd never know they were there.
That's why the NARPAS SWORD easter egg (unlocked by entering NARPAS SWORD0:000000 000000) which would unlock infinite health, the Ice Beam, and more, wasn't discovered until recently. The game makers never announced the code. They weren't intended for leaks or viral promotion, coming from a crazy ancient time where
a) people got excited about half-naked 8-bit characters, and
b) games contained things that weren't determined by marketing.
Only the wrong one of those is still true. Programmers just enjoyed the idea of children wasting their youth playing the same game over and over again in hopes of seeing less skin than the average postage stamp displays, knowing they'd get the exact same amount of nudity if they just entered this secret password. Or drew nipples on their own thumbs.
The trick to getting this Super Smash Bros Melee glitch is so ridiculously precise that our generation was basically allowed to either discover it or to create free renewable energy, and our guys chose wrong. Thanks, gamers.
This took seven years to find because it's not actually an Easter egg--it's the result of a genuine glitch in the program that allows the user to get through to the game without ever selecting a character. Nintendo's normal strategy when they can't think of a character is "use Mario," but this time they chose to make the universe itself mock any player sad enough to find the glitch.
The glitch arises only if you erase all your friends' names from your game, and also unlocks a single-person melee mode. That is exactly as depressing as it sounds: You're stuck alone in an empty Nintendo-themed pit of loneliness.
We might believe Nintendo's claim that it was accidental if it weren't for the secret boss that this same glitch unlocks. The game rewards anyone willing to delete all his friends with an impossible boss modeled on the one thing that will have sex with him.
Not just a hand, but "Master Hand."
So it's either locking the player in a "this is no longer accidental, we're trying to make you think about your life" wasteland of meta loneliness, or a masturbation joke that spits electricity at you after you've admitted you don't have any friends.
We can't pinpoint how long it took gamers to find this one, and we're kind of hoping it took a really, really long time.
Every item you can pick up in Resident Evil 2, or any RE game for that matter, has only three possible outcomes: If you're lucky it's useful, if you're unlucky it wastes your time telling you it isn't, and if you're really unlucky it's a file. Anyone who'd examine a desk even twice only did it by accident.
So imagine how somebody discovered this bit of insanity: You can find the secret of Wesker's desk only by searching said desk 50 times. The first 49 times you get a message telling you nothing is there. But if you persist, and persist, long past the point any reasonable person would, you find the Easter egg. It's a small reward considering at that point of dedication, the game counts as your occupation, a chunk of your personality and a fairly serious mental problem. Your reward (well after you take it over to the Dark Room and develop it) is "Film D." Which is... a photoshop of Rebecca in a basketball outfit.
As cool as Easter eggs are, that had to have been a disappointment, particularly to the person who discovered it by, what, checking every desk 50 times? It's like finding El Dorado, only to realize the City of Gold is just a landfill of Ferrero Rocher wrappers.
In a game that sold two million copies within just a few weeks on shelves, you wouldn't think any secret could stay secret for long. But the developers of Batman: Arkham Asylum inserted a secret room that went undiscovered for six months before they finally just came out and announced it themselves.
Six months might not sound like long, but keep in mind that was a period when everyone online who liked Batman or video games--i.e. everyone--was playing. It didn't help that it involved blowing open a completely random, unmarked section of wall with absolutely nothing in the way of hints to point you that direction.
Eidos' marketing team slowly went insane as their incredible viral marketing stunt went undiscovered (the secret room promoted the game's sequel, Arkham City) and eventually just phoned a game site and told them how to do it.
If you want to find the secret room (ie the Warden's Secret Office), here's a video showing you how.
The opening level of GoldenEye has a secret island. If you only played the game without cheating (that is, without a device like a GameShark), you've never been there.
At the end of the dam level (that is, the first level), there are two directions: Left, leaping into one of the best Bond shots ever, to kill an entire chemical weapons facility full of Russians like a high-explosive aerodynamic ass of badness, or right, to stare across the endless expanse of gray. You find the egg by choosing the second option. Look out there with a scope and you can see a tiny island way out in the distance, and no apparent way to get there.
With a GameShark you can turn on "noclip" mode and that will let you just walk out across the water, off to the undiscovered country.
What you find looks badass, what with the huge turret and gatling gun:
Sadly, looking badass is all it does. What you've found is a half-formed idea the programmers had. The "Citadel" was meant to be an extra part of the level, but as the deadline approached, a combination of lack of memory, lack of time and the realization that they'd already made the best console shooter yet to exist meant there were cuts. Rather than deleting the island, they just deleted the boat that was meant to take you there, wrongly assuming that gamers would be too distracted by all the awesomely shooting people to notice the island.
This one is amazing, not because of what the Easter egg was, but because of how ridiculously long it stayed hidden: 26 years.
Back when companies kept programmers in cages and "getting a chair" counted as a promotion, Landon M. Dyer was hired to convert Donkey Kong for the Atari 400. They had the license, the original game was setting arcades aflame across the nation and ... well, that's all. His first task was spending a stack of his own quarters to find out what kind of Kong a Donkey was anyway.
He spent the next five months single-handedly reinventing the game on inferior hardware and ended up so deep in the Matrix that he snapped and hid his own initials in the code.
And when we say "hid," we mean they were buried so deep the secret stayed hidden for a quarter century. And even then it was only found because Landon told everyone about it, though he'd forgotten how to unlock it himself.
Well, one man did it. All it took was for him to pry apart all 25,000 lines of assembly code, backtracking from an AND statement through the insane combination of setting a high score with 37, 73 or 77 as the fifth and fourth digits, losing all his lives--the final death by falling--then resetting the machine to difficulty level 4 and waiting. By that point you're so deeply involved in the game you've legally married it.
But hey, Easter eggs aren't about the destination, they're about the journey. Or something.
You can play as the duck in Duck Hunt.
Now, depending on what type of person you are, or what type of person you were in 1985, you'll either respond by saying, "Well duh, it's mentioned in the manual" or with the much more common, "I PLAYED THAT GAME FOR 10 YEARS HOW DID I NEVER KNOW THAT?!".
Hey, this is a game about holding a gun and killing things, so it's for men, and instruction manuals aren't (the game even had a clay pigeon mode which was clearly there to prove it's only fun to shoot things that have faces). Also, a lot of us weren't old enough to read in 1985.
Our failure to do so, however, robbed us of the joy of killing things that had faces and the cursing voices of our friends. All you had to do was make sure you had a firm grip on the Zapper and plug a controller into Port 2 in "Single Duck" mode.
The control pad is now controlling the duck. Now go get your NES out of the garage and try it.
Check out more from Luke with The 5 Most Retarded Causes People Are Actually Fighting For and 5 Books That Can Actually Make You Stupider.