Video games are full of secrets, as designers often incorporate hidden areas, characters, and easter eggs for players to discover. These surprises and secrets often work to extend the length and replay value of a game, and more often than not give gamers something to talk about. They are a staple of video games, for the most ardent fans to find and discover.
We decided to compile a list containing both secrets and shocking surprises that made their mark in video game history.
We had a difficult time picking out every secret and hidden surprise that games had to offer to fit this list. If you think we missed anything, don't hesitate to leave a comment to tell us your favorite video game secret or surprise.
#20 DOOM II - John Romero’s Head
Staffers at id didn’t have a whole lot of love for John Romero during the development of Doom II; he had a massive ego and was very verbose about it. As a result of being, well, a dick, his staff decided to get back at their boss by creating a “shrine” in his honor. What kind of shrine you ask? Well...
The boss in the final level of Doom II is supposed to be a giant, horned demon skull-head and if you listen closely, the beast says "To win the game, you must kill me, John Romero!", but distorted and in reverse so that it sounds like a demonic chant.
In order to find Mr. John Romero, you had enable the 'No Clippings' mode and walk through the wall behind the demon head where you would then be confronted the loveable boss’ head on a stake.
You know what to do next.
#19 God of war sex mini game
Nowadays, it’s expected of Kratos to get some booty from the ladies in order to earn those precious orbs (I wish I could get precious orbs after a good romp); however, when the first game arrived back in 2005, it was quite shocking to gamers. In the scene, our antagonist is aboard his ship with two Greek hotties in which he proceeds to get his O face on by tapping the O button (haha!). The scene is held off screen, but it was still a little mind blowing since gamers really weren’t expecting it.
#18 Rings of Power
For decades, pubescent and adult men alike read many stories of ‘nudity codes’ for their favourite games, most of which were just legends and folklore in an effort to fulfill our desires of seeing their favourite characters in their pixelated glory. They did exist, but it was usually through user-mods or patches. However, way back in 1991, Sega Genesis RPG ‘Rings Of Power’ had the real thing. Naughty Dog (Yep, the same Naughty Dog responsible for the Uncharted series) snuck in an input code (via the second controller) that would reveal a topless woman in the game's splash screen. Players didn’t have to even start the game to get their jollies!
Watch this non-creepy gentleman explain how it is done.
#17 Metal Gear Solid - Psycho Mantis Reads Your Mind
An encounter with Psycho Mantis in the first Metal Gear Solid for the PS1 was probably one of the most unique ways developers used to fuck with our minds. If you had any other Konami saved games, the psychic baddie would actually scan your memory card and then taunt you with your gaming habits.
For us unsuspecting gamers, it was truly a spooky moment!
#16 Diablo: Duplicating Items
The legendary Diablo was renowned for its glitches and exploits, including dozens of different ways to duplicate items. Though many of the methods have been fixed, back when it wasn’t, players would simply put a pile of gold on the ground then pick it back up, which resulted in the game getting confused and suddenly telling you “Here’s more gold, adventurer!”
#15 Mario 3: Warp Whistles
As revealed in the Oscar-nominated film, The Wizard, Mario could simply toot his flute (twice!) and he would be brisked away by a Tornado giving him the ability to skip over 90% of the game. The initial trip would take you to the first Warp Zone area, but it limited you to World 4. If you had the second flute on hand, however, you could use it to take you to the last section of the game, World 8. This resulted in many people beating the game without experiencing the majority of what is considered one of the best games ever made.
There are actually three of these flutes, which is shown in the video above.
#14 Goldeneye: Fire Gun in Cutscenes
In Goldeneye, if you completed a mission in a specific way, you were given the ability to move freely and do whatever the hell you wanted during the preceding cut scene ... like murdering helpless bystanders. This produced a lot of hilarity during my childhood.
#13 Final Fantasy VI: Psycho Cyan
I played the bajesus out of FFIII/VI but I never experienced this sociopathic behaviour. Apparently, when you revive Cyan during battle while he’s still in imp form, he turns into a crazed maniac and would not stop bludgeoning his random target until they turn into a fine, red mist. His brutal wrath wasn’t focused only on monsters; party members were susceptible as well.
I guess Cyan took his ‘my-family-is-deeeeeeaaaad-rage’ out on anyone and everything. Batman would be proud.
#12 Super Smash Bros: Play as Master Hand
If you open a character window for controller port 3 and press the right combination of buttons, the level selection screen will appear and controller 3 will default as ‘Master Hand’. Yup! You’ll be able to bitch slap your friends around as a feisty reincarnation of Michael Jackson’s right hand.
#11 Here lies link – Final Fantasy 1:
In the original Japanese version of Final Fantasy I, there was a tombstone in the elf village, which read “Here Lies Link”. Did they know something we don’t? Creepy.
#10 Super Mario Land 2 - Fire Mario
Did you know that it was supposed to be a feather on Mario’s head when he chowed down on a flower?
My stupid kid self thought it was a fire truck or something.
#9 Double Dragon – Billy Vs. Jimmy
After beating the shit out of countless thugs, including weird looking ladies and giant men with Barry Bond-size heads, Billy and Jimmy had one left battle to fight at the end of their bro-fisting journey: themselves. Whhhaaaaat?!
My puny, juvenile brain almost exploded as I looked at my friend in disbelief. “It has to be done,” I told him. And so we engaged in battle over a lady that probably wasn’t even worth it by now.
I don’t remember who won that battle, but it did leave a permanent mark.
#8 Mortal Kombat – Challenged by Reptile
This was one of those school-yard legends that actually could come true. Mortal Kombat was a popular topic of discussion during my elementary days, and the desire to challenge Reptile was at the top of the list. When you were fighting at “The Pit” stage, a certain ‘object’ would sometimes pass by the moon. This meant that you needed to complete the difficult task of a double-flawless-fatality. If you were successful, a green, poison spewing lizard-man would appear and proceed to kick your ass. You loved it though! Because it was awesome and you did something your school friends could not. Though they still didn’t believe you if you told them.
Honourable mention to Smoke who debuted in Mortal Kombat II as an unplayable secret character in human form, but became playable in Mortal Kombat 3 in cyborg form.
#7 Metroid –Samus is really a...
Can you imagine the revelation of finding out that your kick-ass, cool armour-wearing, laser-shooting bounty hunter who just saved the universe was actually ... a GIRL? Well, this happened to thousands shocked young men. Girl power!
#6 Batman: Arkham Asylum – The Warden’s Secret Room
I think that the most impressive and mind blowing aspect to this secret room was that it took almost a year for someone discover it. In this digital era where virtually nothing is secret anymore, these kind of things are pretty much unheard of. So how did it defy those odds?
Well, the Warden's hidden office is located behind a destructible wall, but it does not show up in detective mode. Since every other object that can be interacted with does, it is no wonder that it took so long to be discovered.
The hidden room itself actually holds a pretty awesome secret: it contains an 'approved' blueprint for Arkham City, which wasn’t even close to being unannounced at that time.
#5 Adventure – What is in a name?
Not only was Atari 2600’s Adventure the first true adventure game, it was also home to the first secret room. The easter egg simply displayed the name of its creator, Warren Robinett. “So what!” you say? Well, back in 1979, it was bad form for programmers to list their names anywhere in games, so Warren was breaking with tradition by creating it.
To reach this ancient, secret room, you'll need to first find a single, grey dot. Pick that baby up and carry it to the screen south-east of the Gold castle. This will cause the wall on the right-hand side to blink, a glitch that occurs due to hardware limitation when there are too many sprites on the screen. This blinking temporarily turns the collision detection on and off, enabling you to pass through to the secret room.
#4 Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past – Ruby room
Remember Nintendo Power? Is it still around? I had subscription back in the early 90s and cherished the golden 50th issue edition, which featured Link’s Awakening. But for this secret, we are talking about a more famous Zelda game: A Link to The Past. Before the game's release, Nintendo Power ran a competition, with the winner of the grand prize getting their name plastered in a secret room located somewhere in the game. The lucky winner of the competition was Chris Houlihan.
Unfortunately, the room was so secret that no one even knew it even existed until recently. This meant that the very few who did find it, would have stumbled upon it by complete accident.
Then the internet came along, and with it, emulation software, which allowed hackers dive into the game's code and discover the secret. See the video below for the five different ways to find Chris Houlihan’s room:
#3 Metroid - The Everything Passwords
Metroid was one of the first games to use an actual password system, rather than just pressing a series of buttons on the controller; this was a pretty big step for Nintendo games. One such password unlocked all of Samus' weapons and powers in addition to one that unlocked her armor; however, they were virtually impossible to use as they were only meant as a built-in security override for the cartridge. The codes were also literally impossible to find, even if you reverse engineered the whole password system. The system was crackable, but Metroid had a “parity check” that rejected faked entries, which included ones mentioned above.
This is why the NARPAS SWORD (NARPAS SWORD0:000000 000000) wasn't discovered until recently.
#2 Developer's Initials (Donkey Kong, Atari 400)
Developer's initials again? So what’s the big deal with THIS one? Well, this one is particularly significant because of the ridiculous amount of time that it remained a secret: 26 years.
Landon M. Dyer was hired to convert Donkey Kong for the Atari 400 and thus spent the next five months in a cell (because that's how programmers were treated back then) reinventing the game, all by his lonesome. He was so deeply entrenched in Donkey Code that he went loco and did the unthinkable: hid his own initials into the game. It was buried so deep, in fact, that the only reason why it was ever discovered was because Landon told people about it. Only one problem: he had completely forgotten how to unlock it.
So along comes some insane, bored-out-his-mind person that figured it out. After going through all 25,000 lines of assembly code, backtracking from an AND statement through the ridiculous combination of setting a high score's fifth and fourth digits as 3-7, 7-3, or 7-7 as the, losing all his lives--the final death by falling--, resetting the system to level 4 difficulty and finally...
I’m lost just typing that out, but you get the idea.
Yes! You can actually play as THE ducks in Duck Hunt...and this mind-blowing revelation was actually written in the manual.
Now, I know some of you are saying “Weird. I figured that out the day I got my NES because hey, it was right there in the instructions!” But there is likely a large portion of us that were either too young to read or ignored the manual all together and just wanted to shoot shit. And for those people (including myself), this was one of those “WHAT TH EHELL?! HOW IN GOD’S NAME DID I NOT KNOW THIS?!?!”
As a result, it meant that we missed out on a whole generation of pissing off our friends by making those fiendish ducks even more aggravating to kill ... or easier, I guess, depending on how developed you hand-eye coordination was.
All you had to do was plug one of your controllers into the second NES port during "Single Duck" mode. So easy, yet so secret.