The Best Easter Eggs in Games
Happy Easter! We hope the Easter Bunny has left you some tasty eggs to enjoy over the long weekend. As I write this the two boxes of chocolate pokéballs next to me are pretty tempting… thank you Easter Bunny.
Keeping with the Easter theme, the team have been discussing their favourite Easter eggs that have appeared in games new and old. When it comes to games, exactly what is an easter egg? We are using the dictionary definition “an unexpected or undocumented feature in a piece of computer software or on a DVD, included as a joke or a bonus.”
Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater – The End
Ian: The End, master of sniping and one of the most remembered bosses of all time, is not just an Easter egg but a whole collection of them. Besides the number of little things you can do to him, including taking out or capturing his beloved parrot, there are 2 entirely separate ways of eliminating him without ever even having to fight at all.
The first way is to snipe him right out of his wheelchair earlier on in the game, when he’s at him most vulnerable and being escorted around the facilities. Of course this means he isn’t available for his usual boss fight scenario and is instead replaced with the Ocelot Unit. Truly a cheap shot that any self-respecting sniper would never take, even if seeing the wheelchair explode into the air and smack Snake right in the head is hilarious.
Although, if you’re really not looking for a fight the second, and by far funniest, way to get out of it is to enter the boss area as usual, save and exit the game, wait a week, and then come back only to find that the 100+ year old ‘Father of Sniping’ has quietly passed away in his old age. It just goes to show that not even the best of the best can overcome the destructive march of time, but at least he died as he lived – looking down the scope of a rifle. However, come back too soon and he’ll be the one that gets the sneak on Snake – catching him sleeping and sending him off to an earlier area, from which the player has to make their way back from to try again.
Impractical, surprising, and fun – everything a good Easter egg should be. And that’s not even everything Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater has to offer in terms of secrets. Hack-and-slash nightmares, peeping on Eva changing, and catching Revolver Ocelot’s goodbye out of the President’s window are just a few more gems that hide just below the surface, waiting to be discovered by first-timers and re-visitors alike.
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End – Crash Bandicoot
Ben: In chapter 4 Nathan is convinced he can beat Elena’s record on her favourite game, owing to his natural talent for running and jumping. They boot up a virtual PlayStation sitting under their TV and you get to play through a full level of the original Crash Bandicoot, where you run away from a boulder, jump over pits and collect fruit.
Of course, Crash Bandicoot was developed by none other than Naughty Dog way back in 1996. It’s a great sequence with some typical rivalry banter between Nathan and Elena. It’s a real treat to see the original graphics on show, and for the some gamers, a real sign of how much things have moved forward. Good luck beating that score, it’s not easy!
The Witcher 3 – Wild Hunt for Every Passing Reference
Isobelle: The Witcher 3 is stuffed full of both monsters to slay and Easter eggs to discover. I found a bunch of these on my own but it wasn’t until I looked up the extent of all the Easter eggs that I realised just how much pop culture had made its way into Skellige, Velen, Novigrad and Toussaint.
Suffice to say, to list them all here would demolish my word count and then some so I will simply draw attention to a few of my favourites. My absolute favourite has to be the handkerchief which Geralt finds in the river at the very beginning of the Blood and Wine campaign, simply monogrammed d.l.C. DLC. DLC! You’re killing me CD Projekt Red.
Heart of Stone also had Geralt wondering what the Goblet of Fire was which was being auctioned off in the Borsodi Brothers’ Auction House. And well, if you’re a fan of Game of Thrones, so are the developers. Geralt discovers sky cells, Longclaw, Needle, swords tempered with dragon fire and a treasure hunt involving Fillibert who ‘always pays his debts’. If you didn’t think it were possible to pack in even more nerd culture, there are Dr Who’s weeping angels in a Valen cemetery, peasants who have opinions on whether war ever changes, many references to arrows in knees and dwarves proclaiming that Geralt has “me and my axe!”. There are plenty of other passing references to Kill Bill, Pulp Fiction, Buffy and Breaking Bad. There are portals with cake, literal tomb raiders and books with the plot of Twilight.
In a game of this size, I suppose it is no surprise that they could hide such a wealth of Easter eggs. CD Projekt Red, as always, I applaud your sheer ambition. Huge map, fantastic plot, meaningful side quests and to top it off, more Easter eggs than you can shake your silver sword at.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time – Cucco Attack
Iain: Link’s faced off against all kinds of enemies in more than 30 years of The Legend of Zelda games, but 1998’s Ocarina of Time saw him tangle with the most formidable foe in the history of the series. No, no, not Ganondorf. He’s a pushover compared to Link’s true nemesis: the fearsome feathered fiends known as Cuccos.
Cuccos are Hyrule’s equivalent of chickens, and at first glance they’re completely harmless. They strut about Kakariko Village clucking and pecking, barely raising a feather in objection when Link picks them up and carries them around…But more sadistic players will notice a little secret. If you lose your cool and repeatedly hack at one of the gentle birds with your sword, you’ll face a terrible revenge. The sky darkens, the Cucco crows – and before you know it, a whole flock of the things is swarming at you!
You can run, you can try to fight – but even with all the power of the Triforce behind you, you’ll never defeat these angry birds. Ganon and his minions might put on a good act as the big baddies of Hyrule – but in my opinion, it’s the Cuccos you really need to watch out for.
Bayonetta 2 – Star Fox
Dominic: In the year 2014, a time where Star Fox fans were crying for a brand new entry – it had been eight years at this point since the last new title (Star Fox 64 3D on the 3DS was a remake) – Nintendo had given the smallest of teases through an image of Shigeru Miyamoto at E3 using the Wii U Gamepad and flying an Arwing (that eventually lead to Star Fox Zero). Before that game arrived in 2016 to mixed reactions, Bayonetta 2 gave Star Fox fans something to get excited over in the beginning part of the game’s last chapter with this amazing Easter egg.
It begins with the available Nintendo costumes that Bayonetta can wear throughout the game. By gearing up in the Fox McCloud costume before hitting the final chapter, the game transforms the normal attack jet into an Arwing, coming equipped with all its trademark features – homing shots, lasers, spins and even a barrel roll – during this on-rails 3D shooter segment.
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End – Guybrush Threepwood
Ben: In chapter 11’s paintings of pirates, Nathan and Sam are unable to identify the pirate captain with the monkey sigil who is one of the Libertalia founders. To fans of LucasArts classic series Monkey Island, it is no other than Guybrush Threepwood in his outfit from Monkey Island 2 – The Curse of Le Chuck.
In-game his name is scratched out, but on a bonus item included in the special editions of Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End there is a sticker sheet of all the sigils of the members of the Pirate Round, where we find he is called Guy Wood.
There are some other Monkey Island references in the game’s dialogue. In chapter 12 Nathan comments “That is the second biggest cistern I’ve ever seen.”, a reference to a running joke in Monkey Island. In the same chapter, upon discovering the blueprints for Libertalia, Sam jokes about someone planning to build an amusement park called Pirate Land, a reference to undead pirate Le Chuck’s theme park in Monkey Island 2.
Uncharted 4 co-director Neil Druckmann confirmed he is a big Monkey Island fan. Disney, now the rights holders to Monkey Island, gave their permission for Guybrush’s likeness to be included, allowing for one of the most memorable Easter eggs.
Bioshock Infinite – Marvellous Musical Marvels
Isobelle: Of course, anyone who played Bioshock Infinite couldn’t help but be charmed by the “BEE” Sharps, ‘Columbia’s gayest quartet’, floating around the city on a barge, singing an anachronistic version of ‘God Only Knows’. Of course in our universe, the song was popularised by The Beach Boys in 1966. Not so in Booker’s 1912 Columbia.
This is just the start of many brilliant and less obvious Columbia-like versions of many of our favourite songs from the late 20th century. Cyndee Lauper’s Girls Just Want to Have Fun makes for a lovely calliope recital in Battleship Bay. Tears for Fears’s Everybody Wants to Rule the World and a rag-time Shiny Happy People are found on phonographs, complete with the scratches and pops which accompany traditional records. A bluesy Tainted Love also finds its way to Columbia’s phonographs. There are characters who give live performances on the streets of Columbia with songs like Fortunate Son and a little girl singing Shake Sugaree.
Some of these I did not even recognise until my second playthrough – they were so perfectly blended with the setting and general art direction of Columbia that they didn’t stick out as obvious. The references slowly dawn on the player as they hear a snippet of a lyric or a melody. Of course, the best part about these Easter eggs is that they make complete sense within the context of the story. Rather than wrenching the player out of the game world by making fun but irrelevant references, these anachronisms are simply linked to Elizabeth’s tears and the ways these have brought the future to 1912. And strangely, it feels as though the future fits perfectly in 1912 Columbia. Just listen to the Bee Sharps.
Spelunky – Eggplant Yama
Ian: The infamous eggplant Easter egg in Spelunky, one of my favourite games of all time, remained a mystery for some time before being data mined in the PC version. At first it seemed like the item was useless, merely a reference to old Nintendo classics, such as Ice Climber and Kid Icarus. After all, the item only seemed to change the background music into a chiptune version of itself on appearance and is destroyed in one hit by anything. Not only is it terribly rare; requiring a shop containing a mystery box and a sacrificial altar to spawn on the same stage, but it is also worthless as a projectile and essentially has no real function. Nobody understood why it existed at all until an image was discovered in the game’s files; an eggplant-head version of the game’s final boss – King Yama.
The hunt was on – who would be the first to make it all the way through the already notoriously difficult game, whilst babysitting the most delicate item available and finally slam-dunk it right in King Yama’s smug face? One thing to note is that it is really only accomplishable with two players, because all shop items become mystery boxes and as only one item can be held at a time, the other player can control the special items needed to reach the already rather secretive final boss. Well, even with the difficulty, it didn’t take long before this mysterious feat was overcome by a couple of players, but it wasn’t enough. The ultimate challenge still lingered – was it possible to do solo?
While it does require several exploits, that make the game even harder, to be able to get the eggplant where it needs to go, the use of an unlockable AI character, and a lot of patience and skill, it turns out that it is possible to pull off solo, however impossibly difficult it may seem. Youtuber Bananasaurus Rex was the first to do it and it made huge waves online as this Everest of the gaming world was toppled. I remember first seeing it happen, I had it up on a secondary monitor whilst working, as I often do with streams, but by the time Rex had reached the Ice Caves I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. In fact, by the end I even had a few of my friends around me entranced and so we sat and witnessed the making of true gaming history. For that reason it will always be my favourite.
Metal Gear Solid/The Twin Snakes – Psycho Mantis
Dominic: Hideo Kojima is no stranger to throwing in Easter eggs and references in his Metal Gear titles, but there is one scene that truly sticks with the player when they arrive to the fight with Psycho Mantis and his ability to “read your mind.”
There is the amusing scene where he tells you to put the controller down, and then with the power of his “mind” moves it across your floor/desk. But that isn’t the best trick. It’s what happens next when he decides to prove that he can read your mind and let you know what type of games the player has been playing. As we know, this was due to the game reading the PlayStation memory card, but seeing it first hand was a surreal experience at the time. The fact that this freaky gas mask wearing dude was telling me “You like Castlevania, don’t you?” or that I am a fan of role-playing games, such as naming Konami’s own Suikoden, was some true fourth wall breaking madness.
The Twin Snakes remake on GameCube put a Nintendo twist on this by doing the same concept, but switching it up with Nintendo games, such as Super Smash Bros. Melee or Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem. The impact of this Easter egg is, to this day, still one of the more memorable moments in the Metal Gear series.
Day of the Tentacle – Maniac Mansion
Iain: These days, LucasArts’ classic 90s point-and-click adventures are remembered as some of the funniest and cleverest games of their era. But younger players might not realise that the pinnacle of their craft, 1993’s Day of the Tentacle, was actually the sequel to an earlier game – 1987’s Maniac Mansion.
But here’s the really odd thing: Tentacle, infamously, contains its prequel in its entirety hidden as an Easter egg. That’s right: you can play through the original Maniac Mansion right from within Day of the Tentacle.
Now, as one of the most celebrated Easter eggs in gaming history, this might not come as a surprise to LucasArts veterans – but if your introduction to the game was last year’s excellent remastered edition by DoubleFine, it’s well worth checking out. All you need to do is lead Bernard to Weird Ed Edison’s bedroom and use the computer on his desk. But be warned: Maniac Mansion is extremely difficult by modern adventure standards! Walkthroughs on standby, I’d say.
Final Fantasy VII – “Little Baby”
Jorge: When it comes to Easter egg entries with video games, many examples of visual and technical secrets tend to be listed among the fans who fondly remember them, from the way Samus’ face reflect off her visor in Metroid Prime to the slowly melting ice cubes in the Tanker chapter from Metal Gear Solid 2.
But another example of intricately hidden Easter eggs in video games revolves around optional dialog options after meeting certain requirements. Such obscure exchanges are more commonly passed around modern games thanks to the wonders of video replays, but long before Bioware and Telltale made a name for their dialog-heavy games, Square Enix (then known as Squaresoft) had beaten everyone to the punch with their revolutionary PSX classic, Final Fantasy VII.
Despite the widespread popularity of FFVII, not to mention the endless forum posts about its most famous moments, there are still plenty of little-known secrets that have eluded even the most hardcore fans. One of them is an early bit of optional dialog that can be missed entirely due to its obtuse-yet-simple requirement: being fast.
During the group’s rendezvous to Seventh Heaven, the Sector VII bar run by leading heroine Tifa Lockhart (and also the secret HQ of AVALANCHE, of which she is also a member), there is a brief window where players need to dash toward the entrance as Cloud while Barret and the other members hurry inside. If the player makes it to the front of the bar in time, Barret will mock Cloud over his impatience to meet his “little baby”, giving an early hint into the complex (and endlessly debated among hardcore fans) relationship between himself and Tifa.
Despite the inconsequential bit of dialog, it’s still impressive how easily this exchange can be missed, and that the developers put such effort into such a small detail to begin with, further cementing Final Fantasy VII’s place as a landmark in videogames.
P.S. CloTi all the way. Get over it, nerds.
Thanks for reading! From everyone at DarkZero, have a wonderful Easter Sunday – don’t eat too much chocolate!
Enjoyed what the team decided was some of their best Easter eggs? Then check out The Best Winter Levels in Games.
PS – for all those Pokémon trainers out there, don’t forget the Pokémon Go Eggstravaganza is currently taking place. Enjoy double XP (quadruple with a Lucky Egg), a greater variety of Pokémon in 2km eggs, and extra candy when hatching.