We all love a good video game Easter egg. A lot of them are easy to spot, and if you’re a seasoned gamer, you’ll even know where to look depending on the architecture of the game. However, some Easter eggs tend to live up to their name and stay hidden for months, years, and sometimes even decades. It makes you wonder: how many more Easter eggs are hidden in our favorite games that we know nothing about?
We've compiled a list of the best hidden Easter eggs in video games, ranging from the awesome, to the weird, to the downright creepy. These Easter eggs stayed hidden long after their games had lost their luster, only to be revealed by sleuth-like gamers who knew there had to be more than meets the eye in these games, or in worst case scenarios, the developers themselves.
How many of these Easter eggs have you found?
15 Chris Houlihan’s Secret Room (The Legend Of Zelda: A Link To The Past)
Let’s start out with one of the greatest video games ever created: The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. The year is 1990, and Nintendo Power is hosting a contest that fans of the console simply cannot resist. The prize? A chance to have their name immortalized in an upcoming video game. The problem was that no one knew which game they would be featured in. Fast forward to nearly 10 years after the release of A Link to the Past to the year 2002, and resourceful gamers are still picking apart the game’s code, when one of them suddenly finds a secret room within the game. The room is littered with Blue Rupees, 45 to be exact, and there’s a plaque in the room with the name Chris Houlihan. It just so happens that Chris is the lucky fan who won the Nintendo Power contest all those years ago, and it took gamers a full decade to finally discover the secret room named after him.
If you want to see the room for yourself, and if you still own A Link to the Past in some form, you can do so by using the Pegasus Boots in a series of dashes from the Sanctuary all the way to the Sewer Passageway's entrance.
14 Calendar Man Hints At Arkham Knight (Batman: Arkham City)
The Arkham series of video games are known to have a heap of Easter eggs, and some took gamers years to discover. In fact, this Easter egg is so obscure that Rocksteady Studios, the developers behind the game, had to intervene by exposing the secret themselves. Fans of Arkham City know that if you visit Calendar Man on different real-world holidays, in real time, you’ll be greeted by some pretty “unique” and unnerving dialogue from the creepy psychopath. But if you set your Xbox 360, Playstation 3, or PCs clock to December 13, 2004, Calendar Man will start talking about being there “from the beginning,” and will then drop ominous hints about how “the end days are coming.”
Take note that December 13, 2004 is the date Rocksteady Studios was established, and Calendar Man’s weird monologue was actually regarding the sequel to Arkham City, Arkham Knight. The secret remained hidden for three whole years and would have never been found if Rocksteady Studios hadn’t released a YouTube video explaining how to unlock it.
13 The Secret “Nero Brothers Quest” (Final Fantasy IX)
Saying that the Final Fantasy games have an impressive amount of content to get through would be a serious understatement. These games are known to be vast and layered, and fans sometimes take months and years to unlock the games in their entirety. However, no other Easter egg in the Final Fantasy series has taken longer than the now-legendary Nero Brothers Quest from Final Fantasy IX, released for the original Playstation back in 2000.
Nearly 13 years after its release, a final side quest was found for Final Fantasy IX. This well-hidden level had players encountering the Nero Brothers while they were teaching Zidane all about gambling. The fact that players had to track down and encounter all three brothers across multiple points in the game in order to continue their progression in this secret level is what made it incredibly difficult to find. And although it didn’t really reward players with anything prominent other than a Protect Ring for conquering the quest, the fact that it took fans of Final Fantasy IX a whopping 13 years to find this quest makes it one of the greatest Easter eggs in video game history.
12 Who’s Lauren? (Halo 3)
Unless your name is Lauren specifically, this Easter egg might mean absolutely nothing to you, but it did remain hidden for seven years, until Halo 3 creator Adrian Perez had to reveal it himself. Halo 3 was released in 2007 after a lot of anticipation and excitement, and fans bulldozed through the game, unlocking every secret in the process. But one little nugget remained hidden, and since no one seemed to have found it, Adrian decided to tell everyone about it in 2014. He revealed that he hid a secret message in the Halo 3 main loading screen, and the only way for fans to see it was if they set their console’s clock to December 25 or play the game on the actual date itself, and press in both thumb sticks while the game is loading.
If done right, a message saying “Happy Birthday, Lauren” will appear on the loading screen. Yay?
11 Rescue The Baby Seals! (Splinter Cell: Double Agent)
Splinter Cell: Double Agent is a pretty dark and gritty game, but this Easter egg is probably the cutest, most adorable one on this list, and it took four whole years to find! Double Agent was released in 2006, but it wasn’t until 2010 when players were treated to a secret mission in which they had to rescue five baby seals (yes, actual seals!) wearing party hats. The seals’ names were Pepperoni, Muffin, Cookie, Buddy, and Vanilla. They were beamed up to safety once you rescued them.
The only way to unlock this mission is in co-op mode, and it involves finding a series of coins in a very specific order, and they are then used in various vending machines to rescue the baby seals. The process to unlock the mission is so elaborate that Splinter Cell: Double Agent programmers at Ubisoft had to finally reveal the secret themselves, four years after the game’s release.
10 ZX Spectrum Emulator (GoldenEye)
A 007-level secret for a 007 game! When GoldenEye, the James Bond first-person shooter, was released for Nintendo 64 in 1997, it revolutionized the genre in terms of multiplayer gameplay on a personal game console. But the game received even more credit to its already-legendary name when a super sleuth discovered a giant Easter egg fifteen years after the game’s release!
In 2012, a computer engineer with the username “spoondiddly” discovered something amazing hidden deep within GoldenEye’s code: a disabled in-game emulator that had ten fully-playable games from the ZX Spectrum system, UK’s Commodore 64 counterpart. Rare, the company that made GoldenEye, disabled the feature, but once fans knew of its existence it was only a matter of time before a patch was coded and the emulator was unlocked! Fans now had access to classics like Sabre Wulf, Jetpac, Atic Atac, Alien 8, Gun Fright, Knight Lore, Lunar Jetman, Underwurlde, Cookie, and Pssst, all from within the GoldenEye game!
9 Secret Rude Announcer (Wave Race: Blue Storm)
Most sports games have lively color commentators and announcers that cheer you along the way whenever you pull off a daring feat or a spectacular stunt, and the same is the case in the GameCube jet-ski racing game, Wave Race: Blue Storm, unless you managed to unlock the infamous “sarcastic announcer” via some meddling in the audio settings.
Released in 2001, Wave Race offered some great multiplayer jet-ski action, but it wasn’t until 2009, a whole eight years later, that players discovered a code that could be inserted in the audio settings screen that activated an alternate announcer, or more like the evil twin of the regular announcer in the game. By changing the audio option to “just fog” and coupling it with a modified version of the famed Konami Code, you’ll get a rude announcer who calls your stunts “pathetic” and adopts a sarcastic, albeit hilarious tone no matter how well you perform in the game.
8 The "Ed Boon Menus" (Mortal Kombat)
Mortal Kombat creator Ed Boon decided to code secret menus into his games that would give players the ability to run diagnostic tests, keep track of how many coins each machine had, and even watch each character’s ending. No one knows for sure when these secret menus were discovered, but it was definitely many years after the initial release of the first ever Mortal Kombat in 1991. These menus were exclusive to the arcade version of the game. The existence of the menus themselves became the stuff of gamer urban legend; people knew they existed, but accessing them required a certain amount of button-mashing mastery between two players. For example, players were required to press "Player One's Block" five times, "Player Two's" ten times, "Player One's" twice, "Player Two's" once, "Player One's" twice, "Player Two's" three times, and "Player One's" four times. It was an elaborate 20-something step sequence.
The menus granted players the same kinds of tools in practically every game, except for Mortal Kombat 3, in which players could unlock hidden features, play a secret Galaga-type game, or watch a Fatality demonstration.
7 The Audience Is The Clue (Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!)
Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! gave NES players hours upon hours of fun each time they sat down to challenge the gauntlet of heavyweights, but it also was incredibly frustrating because the game was hard to beat. Turns out, there are precise clues in the game telling you when to attack and how exactly to deliver a total Knock-Out! This first Easter egg was discovered– or rather revealed– 22 years after the game was released. In 2009, the late, great Satoru Iwata himself revealed that there was an easier way to defeat Bald Bull in his first fight that didn’t require players to punch him after his third hop. Instead, all they had to do was take a cue from a photographer sitting in the front row. The cue was the photographer’s flash. The moment it went off, all players had to do was deliver a body blow to the big brute, and he would go down… and stay down! All it took was a sign from the photographer.
The existence of this Easter egg sent fans of Punch-Out!! on a wild goose hunt, and that’s when YouTuber "midwesternhousewives" discovered in 2016– 29 years after the game’s release– that defeating Piston Honda also took some serious audience observation. Turns out, there’s a bearded audience member who will duck at the exact moment you’re supposed to counter Honda’s attack, and if done right, it will give you all the room you need to take down your opponent. Similarly, the same spectator can be observed during your rematch with Bald Bull, giving you the cue to attack and subsequently knock out the brutish boxer. It’s funny how it took players nearly three decades to discover these tricks, but I’m sure those who could never defeat Bull and Honda are glad they finally did.
6 Landon M. Dyer’s Initials (Donkey Kong)
You’d think that this Easter Egg was so obscure that it must have been revealed by the game’s creators themselves, right? Wrong. In fact, someone’s in-game fate aligned with such perfection that they were able to unlock a special title screen in the original Donkey Kong that included game creator Landon M. Dyer’s initials on it. Hiding initials in games isn’t anything new for developers, and the trend dates all the way back to secret codes found on games like Adventure for the Atari 2600. But while many of these initials are somewhat easy to find, the only way players could see Landon’s initials were if a series of in-game events happened to them in an insanely specific order. First, the player had to lose their life by falling with a score that included a specific combination of numbers, and then set the game to Level 4 difficulty. It’s a miracle that all these things actually happened to a player, in that order, for the initials to be revealed.
5 Mastermind Dog (Silent Hill II)
One of the most unsettling things about Silent Hill II comes in the form of an Easter Egg that took players a long time to discover. No one is really sure when this so-called ending was unlocked, but it required players to endure the game at least three times before revealing itself.
Silent Hill II already had a number of different endings, each one creepier and more unnerving than the last, but the most bizarre ending is without a doubt the infamous “Dog Ending.” While it is technically the easiest Easter egg to unlock on this list, getting there is no easy feat. Players must first unlock all other endings and have multiple saved files for each one. Then, through some digging and sleuthing around, players would be able to find a room with a dog (a Shiba Inu much like the doge meme), before realizing that the dog was the one controlling all the horrible, wretched things that were happening in the game this whole time. Freaky, right? If that wasn’t bad enough, the scene then proceeds to end with upbeat barking. Yeah, definitely freaky.
4 The Free And Easy Level (Serious Sam: The First Encounter)
This legendary Easter egg took some super digging, some inside information, and nearly 14 years to find, but it’s up there with the best of the best. Serious Sam: The First Encounter has a hidden level called "Sacred Yards," which looks like any other point-and-shoot level… to the naked eye. Years after the game’s release, one player realized that Sacred Yards contained mechanics unlike any other level in the game; you could skip a lot of the “danger” by exploiting certain bugs, throwing certain items, and firing at certain inanimate objects. Little did this player know that this was only part of the level’s peculiar intricacies.
It wasn’t until YouTuber "SolaisYosei" was hired by Croteam, the developers behind Serious Sam, as a designer, that things really started to unravel. After looking for answers about the Sacred Yards from the original lead designer, CEO Roman Ribaric, and digging through the game’s level editor,"SolaisYosei" discovered that you could run through the level completely scot-free without encountering any enemies by just grabbing and shooting objects throughout the level in a particular order. "SolaisYosei" even created a YouTube video showcasing the Sacred Yards.
3 Eric Idle Swears (The Discworld Games)
While some Easter eggs are meant to be discovered, others are hidden under layers of code and gameplay for the developers’ amusement only. Such is the case with the Discworld games, a series of kid-friendly adventures that was safe for all ages. Or was it? One “lucky” customer discovered weird soundbites and voice clips when trying to load Discworld, only to have the game crash on him. Instead of just rebooting, the PC the disc was in started to play every single soundbite in the game, with one of them saying, “I want to be the first person in a game to say f***.” Gasp! How could this happen? Well, game programmer Dave Johnston is to blame. He was bored one night and decided to put some Eric Idle (who voiced a prominent character in the game) bloopers to good use, and threw the profanity-laden line in there.
Weirdly enough, Johnston didn’t get fired over the fiasco. In fact, it became such a famous glitch-heavy Easter egg that Johnston added more of the same soundbites to Discworld II. Relying yet again on a bug, players had to click very specific parts of the game to access the dialog.
2 Nudality (The Apprentice)
The Apprentice was a fun little time-waster that came out in 1994 on one of the worst mediums in the history of consoles, the CD-i, which also hosted some of the worst Zelda games known to man. For all intents and purposes, The Apprentice slowly faded into obscurity once the medium grew obsolete and newer games started to surface… until the game's own developers revealed something that would solidify The Apprentice’s status in Easter egg infamy.
You see, the developers thought it would be cute to include “nudality” codes in the game’s Game Over screen. A series of buttons would reveal a rather scantily-clad anime woman for a few seconds, before then “zapping” her completely nude! Again, this was a supposed to be a game for all ages. Since players didn’t really care to dig into the game too much, the programmers behind The Apprentice revealed the “cheat codes” nine years after its release, prompting hundreds of players to go try it out for themselves. They were treated to a few different nudality screens, each with a different anime girl.
1 Play As Master Hand (Super Smash Bros)
This is probably our favorite Easter egg of all, and ironically, it might be more of a glitch than an Easter Egg… but it’s a seriously awesome glitch! Anyone who has played the Super Smash Bros. games knows that Master Hand is the undisputed big-bad-boss of the series. It wasn’t until nearly ten years later, in 2008, that players discovered a glitch in the system that let you play as Master Hand in Super Smash Bros. Melee!
Here’s where the line between glitch and Easter egg gets blurry. In order to play as Master Hand, you have to plug your controller into the third slot and hold down specific buttons, which then lets you pick Master Hand… but if you noticed what just happened, it wasn’t intentional. Or was it? Players basically skip the character selection screen which makes the game default you to Master Hand, who happens to be perfectly playable, with a move set to boot. But here’s where it becomes more of a glitch. If you win with Master Hand, the game crashes and you’re forced to restart… apparently because Master hand has no winning pose. Programming error or not, the fact that a glitch lets you play a full round with the game’s biggest boss makes this a great Easter egg in my book!