Mmm Easter Eggs.
No, not those delicious, chocolate-covered ones you sneak away from your kid’s stash. I’m talking about the Easter Eggs cleverly hidden away in video games. Video game Easter Eggs have been out there for us to discover since the days of the Atari 2600, and finding them can be as fun and challenging as playing the actual game itself. Sometimes they’re well-kept secrets that take players years to find, while others might be found within a week (or day) of a game’s release.
The amount of video game Easter Eggs out there are too many to count, so I’ve narrowed it down to 20 classic/strange/cool/hilarious video game Easter Eggs you can discover (or have already discovered, because you’re awesome like that).
Midway’s classic 3v3 arcade basketball game was (and still is) a blast to play. Featuring a vast roster of NBA superstars, players could gain access to 40 extra playable characters using secret codes. This hidden roster included Bill Clinton, DJ Jazzy Jeff, the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and a whole slew of Mortal Kombat fighters who were now professional basketball players. I think we need a new NBA Jam game, stat.
The Last of Us Part 2
The Last of Us Part 2 isn’t entirely all doom and gloom. During one of the flashback sequences where Ellie & Joel visit an abandoned science center, if you veer off and go into one of the bathrooms, you can look in the mirror as Ellie and move her face around into some hilarious poses using the controller’s joysticks. It allows Ellie to be a kid for a moment and it’s a nice break from all the carnage and despair that you’re used to.
Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception
Naughty Dog’s other mega-popular franchise ‘Uncharted‘ featured a hidden secret related to The Last of Us. During an interview with Kotaku, Naughty Dog game director Neil Druckmann explained that they forgot they left the Easter Egg in there, thinking that The Last of Us would be announced before Uncharted 3 was released. It wasn’t, and no one remembered to remove this newspaper article from Uncharted to account for the scheduling change. Despite the mistake, I think it all worked out in the end.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is a classic N64 game, but it also includes two popular Italian plumbers if you look carefully enough. While in the Hyrule Castle courtyard where Zelda can be found while you’re young Link, look into the nearby windows of the castle. You’ll be able to see portraits of Mario & Luigi hanging on the walls inside.
Ah yes, the infamous Cow Level. This is an inside joke among diehard Diablo fans. There was a rumor that if one of the random cows that appeared throughout the first Diablo game was clicked on enough times, a portal to a secret level would open up. While not the case, this rumor would end up becoming a reality in the sequel. In order to access the portal, you need to have completed the last quest in Act V. Next, go to the Rogue Encampment in Act I, place one Tome of Town Portal & Wirt’s Leg into the Horadric Cube, hit the Transmute button, and voila! A red portal will now open to the Secret Cow Level full of murderous, weapon-wielding bovines.
Diablo 3 on the other hand did things a little differently. Instead of a Cow level, you had to acquire 4 secret items in order to create the ‘Staff of Herding’ which would allow you to open a portal to Whimsyshire. This magical rainbow world full of unicorns and smiling clouds is a blast to play through simply because the visceral Diablo 3 combat remains.
I’m sorry you adorable little creatures, but I really need the experience to level up.
Final Fantasy Tactics
Final Fantasy Tactics is an excellent tactical RPG that features a really cool secret character. In Chapter 4, you can follow a series of steps to open a portal (it’s always portals isn’t it?) where you can find and ask Final Fantasy 7‘s iconic hero Cloud Strife to join your party. His dialogue and skill set are on point just like his outrageously spiky hair, and unlocking him ultimately results in his encounter with a certain “flower girl”.
Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars
Super Mario RPG was developed by legendary RPG creator Squaresoft (now Square Enix). It’s only fitting that they would include a nice little nod to the game that made them famous in the first place. You can unlock a secret fight against Culex, who looks like a boss straight out of the Final Fantasy series. If you are able to defeat him, you will be rewarded with a Quartz Charm, which boosts your attack and defense by 50% and prevents you from insta-death in battle. I’d say it’s worth the effort.
Valve games always feature some amazing world-building and secrets within them, and Portal is no different. During Chamber 16, you’ll eventually come to a sequence in which two Turrets face one another. The one can see you and will fire but will hit a protective, impenetrable wall. Look to your left and you will see two cubes jamming a press. Use the portal gun to move the cubes and underneath, written in red, is the word “HELP”. After moving the cubes you’ll be able to crouch and go into a hidden room. The walls are covered with pictures, messages, and wall tallies (as if to indicate the number of days this person has been trapped). Also, this person mentions that “The cake is a lie.” The psycho A.I. GLaDOS has been telling you you’ll be rewarded with “cake”, but now I’m not so sure that’s to be believed.
There are plenty of pop-culture and other video game references that show up in the Borderlands series, but I always found this one pretty hilarious. In the game’s Caustic Caverns area, among the abandoned mining tunnels, you can find a hidden chamber filled with Creepers from Minecraft. There are also different Minecraft blocks that can be smashed to reveal weapons, loot, and useful items (including cosmetic Minecraft heads for your own character to wear).
This one is a nostalgic throwback. Within each level of the new DOOM game, there is a classic DOOM level to find. There’s a lever that once pulled would open a doorway that would allow you to travel back to the ghosts of first-person-shooter past. Finding them all was a really cool surprise I don’t think DOOM fans were expecting to see.
Fallout: New Vegas
This ‘Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull’ Easter Egg can be found during your travels through the wasteland. If you come across a refrigerator, open it up and you’ll find a skeleton wearing a fedora inside. Apparently that stunt Indy pulled at the start of the film didn’t work out too well for him.
Animal Crossing is typically all adorable and happy, but this in-game event is just plain creepy. Ever since the 3Ds version of Animal Crossing called ‘New Leaf’, if you can stay up until 3:33 am on a Saturday (or have no problem time-traveling), there’s a special broadcast where an alien hijacks your TV and emits strange noises. It’s just a weird and ominous thing you wouldn’t come to expect from a cute game about talking animals.
Halo: Combat Evolved
If you can finish the entire Halo: Combat Evolved campaign on Legendary difficulty, you’re treated to a surprise cutscene in which Sergeant Johnson is seen grappling for his assault rifle with a Covenant Elite. Once the Pillar of Autumn’s self-destruct sequence initiates, Johnson stares into the Elite’s eyes and utters the line “This is it, baby. Hold me.” The two embrace (and I’m pretty sure the Elite puts its hand on Johnson’s buttocks) as the Pillar of Autumn explodes. Beautiful.
Resident Evil 2
This specific Easter Egg requires you to make it through the starting street area without picking up any weapons or items. If you can pull this off, you’ll find Resident Evil 1 pilot Brad Vickers down the hidden walkway just outside of the Raccoon City Police Department. We wouldn’t find out how he turned into a zombie until Resident Evil 3, but once you’ve got him down, he drops a locker key which is used to unlock alternate outfits for Leon & Claire.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
If you’ve watched The Witcher on Netflix or played video games, you know Geralt is used to handling all kinds of disgusting creatures. Possibly the most horrifying one of them all also made an appearance in Monty Python & The Holy Grail. This invincible white rabbit hops around the cave of Caerbannog that is literally covered with skeletons. Without a Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch, you’re not getting out alive. RUN AWAAAY!
Batman: Arkham Asylum
This Easter Egg wouldn’t be uncovered until developer Rocksteady released the information themselves. Connected to Quincy Sharp’s office in Batman: Arkham Asylum is a secret room. To reach it, you have to use Detective Vision which unveils the location of the weak wall. Place several explosive foam and blow the wall to smithereens. Inside this secret room, you’ll see blueprints approving the construction of Arkham City (the sequel) hanging up on the wall.
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
The Grand Theft Auto games have always had an overwhelming amount of hidden secrets. They usually involve aliens or ghostly apparitions, but this one is the best of the best. With your trusty jetpack equipped, if you go through the trouble of getting to the top of the bridge that connects San Fierro and Las Venturas, you’re presented with a sign that reads: “There are no Easter eggs up here. Go away.”
Yeah, that’s probably the best Easter Egg ever.
This one messed with players big-time back in 1998. During your fight with Psycho Mantis, he will use telepathic abilities to read what saved data you have on your Playstation memory card, making comments on certain games you’ve played. When the actual battle begins, he will be able to read your every movement too. Unable to get any hits in, the only way to have a fighting chance is to plug your controller into the second controller port. Once you’ve done this, Mantis won’t be able to read your mind anymore and you’ll be able to make quick work of him.
I saved this one for last because it’s the Grandfather of video game Easter Eggs. Dating back to 1980, this was the first video game Easter Egg ever created and in order to find it you had to pick up a tiny dot (while you also were a tiny dot) and carry it through different screens to unlock this hidden area. Adventure creator Warren Robinett hid his name within the game because Atari would reportedly remove the names of game developers from their products. This was to prevent competitors from identifying and recruiting Atari’s programmers. Despite their best efforts to remove it, this Easter Egg would become a part of pop culture history and even show up during the final challenge in the film version of Ready Player One. Legendary.