I am a huge fan of easter eggs, and, no, I do not mean the ones left by a giant pink rabbit. Although those are pretty tasty. No, I mean when creators hide jokes, references, nods, etc. in their movie, tv show or video games. In my last article, I wrote a little about how easter eggs in video games can help better craft an experience, and that made me start thinking about some video game easter eggs that actually added an entirely new level to their game.
1. "Adventure" - Hidden Name.
What better way to start a list about video game easter eggs than the the first easter eggs in video games? Programmer Warren Robinett left behind a message showing the true creator of the game hidden in a secret room in his Atari 2600 game "Adventure." This was huge at the time because programmers, designers, developers, or creators were not really given a lot of credit, if any at all, for their games. Most games did not even have credits. However, Warren was able to sneak in his message so that his work on the game would be known even after release.
2. "Dead Space" - Nicole is Dead.
This one spoils the first "Dead Space" game pretty heavily, but the game is also 10 years old. I think there is enough of a grace period here. In the game the main character, Isaac Clarke, is investigating a distressed space ship called the Ishimura. He is also looking for his girlfriend Nicole who was an stationed on the ship. At the end of the game, Isaac finds out that Nicole has been dead the entire game, which comes as a pretty big plot twist. Except, the game tells you in the level select screen. The first letters of each mission spell out "Nicole is dead." This makes the game feel just a bit more meta. The ending is right in front of the player's eyes, but they just don't see it.
3. "Batman: Arkham City."
It seems like every superhero movie now has to have some kind of connected universe or hint at a sequel. Well Rocksteady showed them all how to hint at a sequel way back in 2009 with their "Batman: Arkham Asylum." In the game Batman is trapped in the Arkham mad house with all of his villains, but fortunately for Gotham they are trapped on an island in the city's bay. However, if the player blows up a hidden wall in the warden's office, a secret office is revealed with plans on the wall for an expansion of the island to be moved to part of Gotham called "Arkham City."
4. "Portal 2" - Ratman.
"Portal 2" is a fantastic game that deserves all the praise it gets for it's innovative puzzles. However, I think it should at least get a nod for some of it's interesting story telling through easter eggs. Scattered throughout the game, the player can find several hidden areas with notes and drawings left on the wall by a man named "Ratman." It adds a haunting level of story to a, more or less, narratively void game. These hidden markings make the player question who Ratman is, why is he there, is he hunting me, among many others. There have been several theories released about him, and Valve (the makers of the "Portal" series) even threw him a comic, but his presence in "Portal 2" is subtle but impactful.
5. "Megaman X" - Hadouken.
Capcom is a game company that has no problem leaving easter eggs to their other games in their games. The one that makes the biggest difference in a game is learning the legendary technique of the Hadouken in the first "Megaman X" game. After defeating all 8 bosses and obtaining all the upgrades and subtanks and heart tanks, the player can replay Armored Armadillo's stage to find the hidden capsule containing Ryu's signature move from "Street Fighter," the Hadouken. How is it used? Well it is the same button combination as in "Street Fighter." This attack will also destroy any boss in only 1 or 2 hits, so it is a great addition to X's arsenal.
6. "Metal Gear Solid" - All of It.
I wanted to pick just one easter egg that affected game of "Metal Gear Solid" but there are just so many. Pick any game and there is an ingenious easter egg in it. I talked in my last article about the boss Pyschomantis reading the player's memory card and stating what games they played, but there are tons more. In "Metal Gear Solid 3" the player can beat one of the main bosses, The End, by setting the time on the PS2 ahead and letting him die of old age. In "Metal Gear Solid 4" Pyschomantis again returns and will move the player's controller through telekinesis. The entire marketing campaign of "Metal Gear Solid 2" made players think they were playing as a completely different character then in the actual game! The "Metal Gear" series takes the cake on easter eggs adding new levels on depth to games.
There are obviously tons of easter eggs out there to find, and there are several that have probably not been discovered yet. Developers will always give gamers an extra challenge by hiding little secrets in their games. Some will even add an entirely new perspective, mechanic or narrative to a game. If you want an extra challenge in some of your games, join the egg hunt.