Programmers and game designers often get very bored on a job, especially near the end of the development process where it’s all horrible bugs all day long. As a result, they often throw in what are called “Easter eggs,” hidden secrets that can only be found by the most adventurous gamer. In today’s game-crazy culture, they’re usually discovered pretty fast. But some lurk undiscovered for years. Here are the sneakiest Easter eggs of all time.
Probably the best first-person shooter in console history, GoldenEye was chock full of secrets. Some got found pretty early in the game’s life, but others took years to come to the surface. One of the most interesting was Line Mode. The password to enable this totally cool-looking graphical filter wasn’t figured out for nearly half a decade.
Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
Back in the day, Nintendo Power ran one of the most awesome contests of all time. The winner got their name in a Legend of Zelda game. A young fella named Chris Houlihan won, but Nintendo never told him exactly where his name was. To find it, you have to dash into a hole with the Pegasus Boots in a specific (and weird) way. You’ll fall into Houlihan’s secret room, which wasn’t discovered for decades.
Bungie’s first-person shooter was a massively addictive game that had a ton of bizarre secrets, but Hangar 96 took a decade to find. The game has three “dream levels,” and in them you can find a pair of terminals with screens full of hex code. Take that code, combine it in a text editor, and save it as a level file and it’ll create a new multiplayer map for the game.
ToeJam & Earl
This Sega Genesis classic is one of the most beloved games on the platform, and since much of its content is randomly generated, it has a ton of replayability. But one of its secrets isn’t random at all. In the game’s first level, jumping through a conveniently placed hole takes you to a secret area. The thing is, jumping through any other hole in the game is very, very bad, capable of sending you back to the very beginning.
One of the most loved platform games of all time, Taito’s Bubble Bobble, seems somewhat random at first glance. On some levels you’ll get awesome items to help you on your adventure, on some you won’t, and there seems to be no rhyme or reason behind it. It wasn’t until decades after the game’s original release that players triggered their appearance by performing various actions – jumping 51 times, popping 12 bubbles, etc.
Wave Race: Blue Storm
GameCube's jetski game Wave Race: Blue Storm had a secret password entry screen that unlocked all kinds of crazy stuff, but the audio designer for the game hid another secret in the audio settings screen. By entering a complex code on your controller, the game’s announcer would be replaced by a sarcastic a-hole who belittled your achievements. Because it was tucked away in such a weird part of the game, this particular secret took a whopping nine years to uncover.
Pokemon Red And Blue
One thing that made the first Pokemon games so popular was the sheer amount of weird mysterious crap hidden in the world. The legendary Pokemon Mew was incorporated into the code after the debugging tools were removed, but developers Game Freak didn’t include any way to get it in the game itself. It took three years for an enterprising player to figure out a way to find the powerful psychic pet.
Batman: Arkham Asylum
You’ll probably notice that most of the games on this list are pretty old. Today’s gamers are just too freaking good at finding hidden stuff, using decompilers and other crazy tools to ferret out hints in the game’s code. So it’s amazing that it took nearly a year for the Warden’s Office in Arkham Asylum to be discovered. Hidden behind a false wall, it contains a blueprint for Arkham City, the next game in the series.
Splinter Cell: Double Agent
This Xbox stealth game was a pretty serious title, with Sam Fisher dealing with the death of his child and infiltrating a domestic terror organization. So it was more than a little ludicrous that developers would throw a secret mission into Splinter Cell: Double Agent where he would rescue four baby seals. Nobody found it, so the developers eventually released a video four years later.
Next: Super Mario Bros. Easter Eggs
Deus Ex: Invisible War
Although the sequel to the classic Deus Ex wasn’t as well received as the first game, it did have a pretty crazy ending Easter egg that took years to discover. In the game’s last level, pick up a flag, take it to the bathroom and flush the toilet to be transported to a bizarre apocalyptic disco with many of the game’s characters cutting a rug.