In a previous article, we dived into several of the longest-buried secrets in video games. But like Lara Croft or Nathan Drake, our appetite for hunting for new treasures can't be satiated. In that spirit, we present an additional trove of easter eggs that took gamers more than a few years to unearth.
Some went unnoticed for decades. Other, more contemporary secrets lasted a few years, which, in the internet era, is an incredible feat in itself. For enthusiasts, few things are as exciting than finding out your favorite title, that you know inside and out, still has a few surprises up its sleeve. What's also great is the varying nature of those discoveries. From standard special game modes to hidden messages and even an entirely new game, these secrets may inspire you to thoroughly fiddle with your games in hopes of finding your own never-before-seen treasure.
15 The Ugliest Ducklings
Considering Gears of War 3 hit shelves this decade, it’s miraculous to think it could keep anything hidden for long in the secret-killing age of the internet and social media. But in 2016, someone uncovered a special minigame that, unexpectedly, tips a cap towards the NES classic, Duck Hunt.
During the House of Sand level in the campaign’s second act, players must locate and shoot 3 coins. Not only are these inconspicuous coins difficult to pinpoint, but they must be shot in a specific order. Watching the feat performed begs one question: who would EVER think to look for such a thing?
Blasting all three coins transports Marcus and co. to a special shooting gallery. Using a mounted turret, players are challenged to blow apart five Locust that erupt out of the ground in a similar manner to Duck Hunt’s 8-bit targets. The number of successful hits dictates the type of weapon reward, with the four or more earning the powerful Boomshot and Mulcher. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been preaching for years that Gears would be a markedly better game if it were bit more like Duck Hunt. I’m glad Epic agreed, albeit it in the sneakiest way possible.
14 Hiding 33 Years Out Of One Thousand Is Still Impressive
The amazing game of Gumball released on the Apple II in 1983 and tasked players with managing a gumball factory. Designer Robert Cook hid a secret within it that he, in his words, thought wouldn’t be found for “a thousand years”. Like any great archaeological find, a band of skilled hackers stubbed their toes on Cook’s slightly protruding Easter Egg by chance in 2016.
The discovery happened while they were cracking Gumball’s Fort Knox calibur copyright protection. The plan was to upload the extremely rare game to the Internet Archive for preservation. After noticing a cipher in one of the game’s levels, the hackers followed that breadcrumb to solve a series of codes to break the seal on Cook’s 30+ year-old secret: a screen congratulating the player’s ingenuity in discovering the message. When the hackers posted their find on Twitter, Cook tweeted an acknowledgment of their success. His secret may have fallen short of the one thousand year finish line, but three decades is nothing to sneeze at either.
13 Wesker’s Intriguing Hidden Memento
Resident Evil’s resident big bad, Albert Wesker, is a creepy dude. His hobbies include human genocide, cultivating horrific abominations, and the indoor use of sunglasses. In Resident Evil 2, he evidently has a potentially unsettling interest in S.T.A.R.S.’s rookie prodigy, Rebecca Chambers.
Witnessing this secret yourself requires patience/stubbornness more so than effort. Sifting through Wesker’s S.T.A.R.S. office desk yields handgun ammo after one search. Click the desk a few dozen more times (and ignore the “you already searched here, dummy” message) and on the 50th, I say, 50th search, the player receives a surprise film canister. Developing the film reveals a not-great photo of Rebecca Chambers in basketball gear because... she excels at hoops too, I guess. Why Wesker would keep such a thing is anyone’s guess. I’d also like to understand why someone would futilely interact with a desk 50 times instead of moving on to enjoy a stellar horror adventure.
12 Rocksteady (And Calendar Man) Explain It All
Rocksteady Studios is one of the best secret keepers in the industry. Batman: Arkham Asylum famously teased its sequel, Arkham City, with an Easter Egg that went undiscovered for months until Rocksteady pointed it out themselves. This happened again with Arkham City, which hid another tease for three years until the studio, once again, had to steer players towards its existence.
In 2014, Rocksteady posted a YouTube video of a newly discovered Arkham City Easter Egg under a fake channel called “JG Jour”. The title referenced Julian Gregory Day (Jour is French for “Day”), the name of D-list Batman villain, Calendar Man, in an effort to point players towards him for a surprise. In the game, visiting Calendar Man during major dates, such as holidays, led to special cutscenes. Turns out that setting the console’s date to December 13, 2004, the day Rocksteady was founded, led to a tantalizing scene where Calendar Man heavily foreshadows an impending “end of days” for the Dark Knight. Given that Rocksteady felt the need to nudge people towards this scene after Batman: Arkham Knight had been publicly announced, it became clear the message was in relation to Batman’s then-upcoming finale.
11 Nintendo's Famous Secret Song
Listen to this jingle. Nintendo diehards may recognize as Totaka’s Song, one of the longest-running and most unique Easter Eggs in video games. Composed by Nintendo Sound Designer Kazumi Totaka, the song first appeared in the 1992 Game Boy game X and has been snuck into a plethora of titles in the past 25 years.
Finding Totaka’s Song can be tricky; it has a habit of popping up somewhere in the middle of another, sometimes sparingly used, track. A few of the games the song has been found in include Mario Paint, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, several Animal Crossing titles, Super Smash Bros. Brawl, and Mario Kart 8. Odds are plenty of other games hide Totaka's Song, and I wouldn’t be surprised if one of those were a Switch title; Super Mario Odyssey, perhaps? Maybe one day someone will find every Totaka's Song clip, gather them up like Dragon Balls, and make the ultimate YouTube compilation video.
10 Everything Is Everything
The NES has no shortage of difficult games and Metroid proudly sits near the top of that heap. A password system helped alleviate Samus’ arduous journey, but wouldn’t it be nice to just magically gain everything with no effort whatsoever? Fortunately, such sorcery exists; it just took years for someone to find it.
The debug password "NARPAS SWORD0 000000 000000" bestows infinite health/missiles and every power-up including the Ice Beam (but not the Wave Beam due to Samus’ inability to carry both). Although intentionally built into the game, Nintendo as a whole was likely oblivious to its existence, hence why the code was never shared officially. I imagine its purpose was so the designers could freely dink around with the game during development. Odds are they left it in the finished product believing no one could possibly access it. Or they simply forgot about it entirely. Regardless, I salute whoever left it in, as it allows us to turn one of the 8-bit era’s toughest games into a relative cakewalk.
9 This Mode Seems Sketchy
Our previous article covered some of GoldenEye 007's barrels worth of secrets. One of its more legendary treasures is Line Mode. As you likely guessed, this setting does away with those pesky texture, causing the presentation to resemble an Etch-a-Sketch drawing. Personally, the idea of trying to navigate the Caves level under this condition sounds dreadful. But hey, at least it looks neat and only requires a convoluted series of button presses to unlock.
Line Mode’s mystique stems from the fact that it isn’t listed among the 23 unlockable cheats. An unused 24th slot suggests Rare may have intended to include the mode but bailed on the idea for whatever reason. On the other hand, maybe it was intended to be a big ol’ secret all along.
8 Dial "E" For Explo–Oh Forget It
Grand Theft Auto V is a mammoth-sized game, so maybe it shouldn’t be surprising that new secrets are still being excavated. One that surfaced in 2016 was a new phone number that, when dialed, triggers a random explosion. The diabolical digits are 1-999-367-3767. If you aren’t too distracted by the spontaneous combustion, you’ll notice the phone also takes on a sinister shade of black.
The big question, of course, is the reasoning behind this. Did Rockstar include it just for laughs or does it have a deeper connection to a grander mystery? Interestingly, the number wasn’t listed among known contacts when fans previously data-mined the game’s list of phone numbers. That would suggest Rockstar patched it in somewhat recently, but the studio is about as likely to confirm that as they are to nod "yes" to a Bully sequel.
7 When The Game Itself Becomes An Easter Egg
If you’ve never played the 2012 browser game Frog Fractions you should stop reading this, do a Google search, and take an hour or so to play it. Go ahead, I’ll wait here.
All done? Wonderful. You probably won't be surprised to learn that players demanded a sequel right off the bat. Fans funded Frog Fractions 2 (phew) via Kickstarter in 2014. However, there was a catch: the game wouldn't be released as Frog Fractions 2. It would, instead, hide within another game. What game? No idea. When was it coming out? Not a clue. Was it already out there and we just don't know it? Great question, one that spawned the meme of asking "Is this Frog Fractions 2?" when anything suspect arrived on Steam.
A subreddit dedicated to sniffing out even the faintest whiffs of Frog Fraction 2's existence soon launched. After two years of searching (and a dedicated ARG), a group called the Game Detectives finally discovered the game. It sits in the belly of a wholly independent title called Glittermitten Grove that released on Steam in December 2016. Thus ended one of the most insane Easter Egg hunts in recent history.
6 The Self-Esteem Killer
Wave Race: Blue Storm for GameCube typically features a chipper support crew who desire nothing more in life than to help the player succeed. A cheat unearthed by a NeoGaf user in 2010 causes said crew to do pro wrestling-style heel turn, morphing them into a singular, snarky d-bag. He clearly hates your guts and would sooner laugh at seeing your Jet Ski collide with a coral reef than applaud a first place victory.
Among the cavalcade of insults spouted by this jerk are “Your wins are like diamonds–very rare” and “You’ve betrayed what little trust I put into you”. My personal favorite is when he yells “SUUUPER” in a hilarious mock enthusiasm when players perform well. Executing a complicated list of steps allows this demon to invade Wave Race’s realm of upbeat water sports. Just be sure to bring a thick skin should you decide to unleash him.
5 That's One Handy Cheat
Master Hand may be the best/worst boss in the history of fighting games. I mean, he’s a hand, as in just a conglomerate of fingers designed for competitors to beat the tar out of. But thanks to a Super Smash Bros. Melee glitch uncovered several years after the game’s launch, you too can wear the glove of the ultimate disembodied foe.
Two methods for achieving this exists. Frankly, both cheats are way too complicated to explain here, involving varying amounts of controllers, different modes, and timed button presses. Pulling off either formula blesses players with the honor and privilege of taking Master Hand into battle on any stage. Whether or not he’s worth the effort once the match starts is up to you. If nothing else, picking him offers the opportunity to torture your friends with a never-ending barrage of terrible "hand" puns.
4 Who Dat Be?
Resident Evil 4 launched 12 years ago and people are still finding unseen secrets. The most recent involves a mysterious, unknown figure inhabiting the game. The YouTuber who made the discovery used an enhanced sniper scope and some camera trickery to reveal what appears to be a flat image of a real-life person.
He/she sports a bright green winter jacket, jeans, and a scarf. You can find the image off in the distance around the area just after the scene where Mike’s helicopter gets blown out of the sky. While in all likelihood an Easter Egg of some sort, just who is this person? A developer? A family member of a developer? A Resident Evil super-fan/connoisseur of green apparel? The gaming world demands answers.
3 Baby Alien Seals. 'Nuff Said
Splinter Cell is one of the last series that comes to mind when I think about babies, aliens, or actual seals. 2006’s Double Agent slapped all three of together in a bizarre moment. The original Xbox version of the game’s co-op mode features a secret side mission where players must liberate five adorable seals (Vanilla, Cookie, Buddy, Pepperoni, and Muffin) from captivity.
You trigger the mission in Prison A by finding a coin in a locker and putting it in a vending machine, releasing the first seal. From then on you’re tasked with locating the others. Along the way, you’ll have to feed the seals the right type of food; giving them something they hate results in failure. Oh, and the seals can talk. One of them even requests the player to fetch its sunglasses in exchange for information. That’s an actual thing that takes place in a Splinter Cell game.
It took about four years before this mission came to light. It only did because a developer who worked on the game and his friend posted a YouTube video walking through the entire mission, which simultaneously revealed its existence.
2 Toilet Parties Are Best Parties
Deus Ex: Invisible War can conclude in a few different ways. To get the objectively best outcome, grab a UNATCO flag near the entrance of the final level. Take it to J. Manderly's old office and drop it next to the toilet. The player will then find themselves transported to the swanky Club Vox. Whoever figured this out must have done so by complete accident because c’mon now.
Players are then treated to quite a shindig. Various main characters can be seen getting jiggy with it to some terrible club music. Flaming penguins abound because reasons; and yes, they’ll actually cause damage if touched. Perhaps the coolest touch are scattered data logs filled with developer quotes offering insight to their experiences designing the game. Given the game’s serious tone, the whole thing feels like a surreal fever dream.
1 The Trials Of Trials
Who would have ever expected one of the most profound and complicated secrets in gaming would come from the Trials series? Yes, those motocross games where you do wacky stunts. Trials HD and Trials Evolution feature complex riddles that literally took players years to solve. Unraveling them required identifying easy-to-overlook visual clues sprinkled throughout levels. For example: an incomplete world map, cave paintings, binary code, shape patterns, and much more. Considering these are fast-paced motorcycle games, its amazing anyone was able to notice anything that wasn't their biker flailing off a ramp.
The next step was figuring out how these disparate secrets led to the bigger revelation, a problem Robert Langdon would kill to solve. A video breaking down Trials HD’s riddle explains the solution in great depth, but players are led down an insanely poignant rabbit hole dealing with philosophy, humanity, and existentialism. It’s absolutely nuts and incredibly well thought out. Had it not been for the efforts of curious and determined Trials fans, these secrets would have likely remained buried for years to come.