Those pesky game developers have included hidden code in their titles for decades now – some worthwhile, others just plain silly. However, the ‘Easter egg’ has become something that gamers just can’t get enough of.
What started in the early ‘80s with the Atari title Adventure, has now become a staple of video gaming lore. Easter eggs add an extra layer of intrigue to any game they’re attached to, peaking players’ curiosity with their obscure tantalization.
But sometimes, developers don’t want their secret features to be uncovered, which can mean years of bareness before some surprised player stumbles upon it. That’s where this compilation of examples comes into play.
This list includes those Easter eggs that evaded players for not just years, but decades due to their elusive nature. Whether it’s a whole new level in a game or simply the initials of the developer–these 15 Easter eggs went a long time without being found, some of which will have you scratching your head as to how they were even located in the first place…
15 Chris Houlihan Deserved Better
Even Easter eggs that are already known about can go unfounded for many years if the conditions to find them are really obtuse. Well meet The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past–a stunning title that let gamers know that there was a secret, but didn’t tell them how to locate it.
Yes, as part of a contest for the publication Nintendo Power, one lucky winner would have their name featured in the game. However, that poor guy would have to wait over ten years to have his name deciphered in the title’s code. How was it solved? By glitching the game in order to end up in a cordoned off room, which had a plaque with the name Chris Houlihan scrawled onto it–the name of the very patient contest winner.
We’ve heard of hard to find Easter eggs before, but this one takes the cake. Poor Chris may not even be aware that his name has become the stuff of video game secret lore. A link to the past indeed.
14 A Little More Risqué Than Advertised
Prefer something a little more risqué? The obscure platformer The Apprentice has you covered. Released for the Philips CD-i console in 1994, this cutesy looking title isn’t as innocent as it initially appears to be, thanks to an incredibly smutty Easter egg.
Years after its release, players found out about the game’s special codes that would reveal some very graphic images–images of naked women. Yes, if the correct sequence is entered in during the game over screen, gamers would get an eyeful of the game’s ‘Nudalities.’
Despite being aimed at children, The Apprentice certainly had some adult themes hidden within its labyrinth of code–namely, this explicit pixelation.
13 The Coin That Teased Us For Almost 20 Years
I don’t know about you, but there’s nothing as annoying in a video game than a collectible that can’t be, you know, collectible. Fans of Mario had this feeling for almost two decades with the infamous ‘impossible coin’ in Super Mario 64.
However, 2014 changed all that when the painstaking feat was finally accomplished. The near impossible to reach shiny object was picked up by a player, thanks to a tool-assisted run. For all of you who are curious to attempt the unenviable task for yourself, it can be found on Tiny-Huge Island next to a slope under the ground (no surprise it was so difficult to collect).
If at first you don’t succeed, then try, try again. Clearly the Mario community follow this mantra, refusing to give up on the now ‘possible coin.’ Now if only those wretched Goombas could be killed, then we’d really be amazed!
12 Follow The Flashing Camera
Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! for the NES was a challenging game, however, it would’ve been less frustrating had we have known about this neat little trick. Revealed by Satoru Iwata in 2009, there’s a much simpler way of knocking out Bald Bull: watch for the camera flash.
Yes, in the audience a camera flash goes off at certain times. This is when you go for the knockout blow, and if timed correctly, will work every time. No more waiting for his third hop to go in for the kill, or getting smashed by his Bull Charge for the umpteenth time!
22 years is a long time to digest all of your defeats, but hey, it’s better late than never. However, it wasn’t the only visual hint to be found in the game…
11 This Bearded Man's Been Trying To Help You This Whole Time
In 2016, a Reddit user spotted another visual cue for Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!, this time for your brawls with Piston Honda. During the rematch with the fighter on the World Circuit, pay close attention to the bearded man on the left of your screen.
He nods at just the correct moment where you have to counter Honda, which should send the feisty opponent flying to the canvas. He also makes an appearance during a rematch with Bald Bull, and inevitably, gives the same visual cues.
Even longer hidden than our previous entry, this one went unspotted for 28 years. Thank goodness for the internet, or we may have been left in the dark for 28 more!
10 This Quest Might Not Even Be Worth It
Seriously, how good was Final Fantasy IX? Very good in my opinion, but even a fanboy like myself didn’t spot this evasive side-quest towards the game’s conclusion. Hidden for 13 years, the Nero Brothers secondary mission eluded players due to its very particular conditions.
Players would have to meet the troublesome brothers throughout different points of the game, before finally being schooled in the art of gambling. However, miss one of the steps, and you’ll never be able to complete the quest. Doh! The not so great reward for completing it was a protect ring, but let’s face it, the real reward would’ve been to even finish this obscure quest.
9 Someone Clearly Forgot To Take This Out...
Talk about breaking the fourth wall. Paper Mario did that and then some with this recently uncovered Easter egg. Flagged up just last year by a player, the game has some very peculiar hidden dialogue that suggests you should get in contact with Nintendo to report a bug.
If the player activates a log skip glitch in Toad Town just before Chapter 1’s conclusion, they’ll have access to some weird conversations with the townsfolk. Some of them say that the player shouldn’t be seeing the dialogue, while others inform the player that they shouldn’t be there at all.
Credit goes to Strider7x for uncovering this one, and even doing as he was told by the game, by getting in touch with Nintendo. After all, the message he got from the game was: “You shouldn't be able to get here yet. If you did, it's a bug, so please get in contact.” Kind of asked for it, Nintendo!
8 The Extra Lives Make This One Worth It
Not only is Super Mario Bros. one of the best games ever, but it was littered with Easter eggs–so much so that there are still some being discovered for the first time. In 2014, the magic beanstalk was one of them.
This elaborate glitch grants players infinite lives (or 1UPs in Mario language), through the peculiar means of a sprouting beanstalk. In a mind-boggling turn of events, the player must beat the game, go through a set of painstaking conditions, and wait for the thing to shoot up out of the ground. Seriously, there’s more directions here than on a road map.
Thirty years after its release, and this elaborate Super Mario Bros. Easter egg is proof that even retro games still have plenty of surprises in store. Pull this one off, and you’ll have a supreme feeling of one-upmanship (too obvious?).
7 This Entire Level Was Kept Secret
All of us gamers like extra levels, right? Well, the developers of Marathon knew this all too well, which is why they decided to insert this cheeky secret level in the game. The influential shooter was made by Bungie–the same team that helmed the Halo series–and this Easter egg is the work of a team who take their craft seriously.
Dubbed Hanger 96, this discreet level can only be unlocked after the player is transported to one of three dream levels in the game, where terminals with mystifying codes can be found. Take out the codes from the first and last level, and the player will be able to crack open the secret multiplayer level. Pretty smart!
Of course, Bungie did the same thing with Halo 3 by inserting a happy birthday Easter egg into it, but nothing as game-changing as the one in Marathon. Several years later, and we finally can put the mystery of Hanger 96 to bed.
6 It Only Took These Guys 25 Years To Get Credited
Ever wondered who the two random guys trading blows on Street Fighter II’s opening sequence are? Well, it seems this mystery has finally been solved, thanks to Capcom’s recent DLC for Street Fighter V. Yes, they have finally been officially unveiled, coming 25 years after fans first caught a glimpse of the then unknown fighters.
Called Max and Scott, these two were revealed by Capcom following many of the franchise’s supporters demanding answers. It may have taken a quarter of a decade for an official statement, but that mystique is what makes any good video game Easter egg intriguing.
Not only does Max play a part in Street Fighter V’s story mode A Shadow Falls, but he can also be spotted lurking in the background of the High Roller Casino stage. Now that’s some serious screen time for a relatively unknown and mysterious character.
5 Games Within Another Game... Gameception?
GoldenEye was already an amazing game, but how about an extra ten arcade titles packaged along with it? Count us in! This devious Easter egg was found in 2012 by a player who – after breaking into the title’s code – came across an emulator for some arcade games.
Developer’s Rare were testing out how emulation would work on the N64, and they used GoldenEye as their guinea pig. The game shipped with the emulator code disabled, rather than being removed. Our smart egg hunter was able to enable it again, and voila! We now have GoldenEye plus a plethora of interesting titles lumped in with it.
This game is a classic, and it’s good to see that it is still enduring after all these years. It’s just more evidence for GoldenEye being like a fine wine–it gets better with age.
4 Basically A Secret Stealth Mode
Serious Sam is all about fast-paced action and arcade-style gunfights, but there is a little-known Easter egg for those who just want to stroll around one of the game’s maps. It’s basically a secret within a secret–quite an inception-esque approach.
Did you know that the secret level Sacred Yards actually had its own ghosts lurking within the code? Yes, it allows the player to traverse through the stage without drawing their gun. Just pick up a certain amount of items and shoot a particular set of objects, and you can get through the level without all of the bloodshed that usually comes along with completing a Serious Sam stage.
This surprising revelation came by way of a YouTuber who was hired by Croteam, the game’s developers. 14 years on, and fans of the series finally have another reason to boot up this adrenaline-pumping thrill ride.
3 This Game Was Less Randomly Generated Than You Thought
Thought everything in Bubble Bobble was randomly generated? Think again. This fan favorite of the ‘80s was even better put together than people first thought, due to the fact that everything in the game was meticulously arranged.
Hackers got into the game’s code over ten years after its release, only to find that the bubble popping gem had a tracking system that took note of every player decision to determine the amount of power-ups to give out.
The thought of it being randomly created is one thing, but to think that a retro title like this one was as advanced as it turned out to be is even more impressive. Hopefully we didn’t burst your bubble with this revelation (Okay, I’ll stop now).
2 These Menus Are Full Of Secrets
Mortal Kombat was already awesome, but it was made even better when it was found out that a secret treasure trove of material awaited those who entered a certain button sequence on the game’s title screen.
What they got access to was a hidden diagnostics menu that allowed the player to view character endings, watch a tutorial on fatalities, and even play a random arcade game. The menu is in fact co-creator Ed Boon’s own little lair, allowing players to get a rare chance to dig into the iconic game’s core.
Surprisingly, all three of the original MK games had this Easter egg, but it went unknown for years. However, series fans can now get that little bit more from the bloodthirsty franchise with this awesome secret feature.
1 They Make You Jump Through Hoops For Nothing
Topping our hard to find Easter egg list is this totally bonkers one featured in Donkey Kong for the Atari 400. The bigger kicker about the whole thing is how utterly pointless it is, even though it’s so ridiculously hard to achieve.
Yes, to achieve the mighty feat of seeing the developer’s initials (great…), the player must follow a bizarre sequence of events. First, they have to die with a certain amount of points, and they have to lose their final life by falling. If that wasn’t enough, they also must set the difficulty to level 4.
If you do it correctly, you’ll find that the initials ‘LMD’ appear at the bottom of the title screen. Released in 1981, this peculiar little nugget went 26 years before being located, arguably making it the most well-hidden secret to be featured in a game.