Adventure (1979): one of the earliest Easter eggs!
Back in 1979, Atari seldom credited its authors for their work. As a result, Adventure creator Warren Robinett introduced possibly the earliest Easter egg to the world. By manipulating an “invisible” dot (actually the same colour as the background), gamers could access the secret credits room, pictured above.
Although Atari discovered they’d had the wool pulled over their eyes after a young fan wrote a letter to them detailing the secret, they decided against re-releasing the game due to the prohibitive cost of manufacturing a new memory chip (then $10,000).
According to Robinett, the use of the term “Easter egg” to refer to such secrets was coined by Atari staff as the discovery of his message reminded them of traditional chocolate hunts.
Batman: Arkham Asylum (2009): Secret blueprints
An Easter egg so well hidden the game’s creators actually had to publicise it themselves after six months of gamers failing to spot it, the warden’s secret room in Arkham Asylum contained the blueprints for Arkham City, which would become the game’s sequel.
Tucked away behind a wall in Warden Quincy’s Sharp’s office, the room and its entrance don’t feature in any maps nor can be spotted using Batman’s detective vision; in fact, they are only accessible via several applications of explosive gel.
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (2009): Marco Polo
Playing a central role in Uncharted 2’s back-story, the Venetian explorer Marco Polo also lends his name to a kids’ pool game, which players can humorously reinact in chapter six by making Drake jump into the rooftop pool. Chloe, however, is less amused than we were at this discovery…
Grand Theft Auto Vice City (2002): The literal easter egg
With Grand Theft Auto’s open-ended game worlds offering countless opportunities for developers to hide away secrets, Rockstar really excelled themselves in 2002’s Vice City. A hidden room near the VCN building, accessible via a collision detection-less window, contains the ultimate hidden extra; a literal, chocolate Easter egg on a stand!
Saints Row 2 (2008): Easter Bunny
Clearly taking cues from Rockstar, THQ went one step further than a chocolate egg in Saints Row 2. By following the directions provided on a number of tiny ruinous islands, players were able to get up close and personal with a giant-sized Easter bunny! Utterly pointless but so much fun.
Rings of Power (1991): Nude code
The fabled “nude code” gained notoriety as an urban myth after the release of the Tomb Raider series, but it can actually be traced much further back than that. In 1991, the fledgling Naughty Dog (yes, the same Naughty Dog who would go on to create the Crash Bandicoot, Jak & Daxter and Uncharted series) slipped a cheat code into their EA published RPG Rings of Power that stripped its title screen’s female character of her top. I say!
Just Cause 2 (2010): The ‘LOST’ Island
While JJ Abram’s hit show has been paid homage to in several games over the years including Half Life 2: Episode 2 and X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Just Cause 2 took this one step further with the inclusion of a whole island chock-full of LOST references. Hantu Island contains a crashed aeroplane, its own smoke monster and a hatch; all allusions to series one of the mystery-drama.
Grand Theft Auto IV (2008): The heart of Liberty City
Inside GTA IV’s Statue of Happiness (wonder what it could be based on…) is none other than a giant, pulsating heart. Only accessible via helicopter and following a “No Hidden Content This Way” sign, the heart serves no real purpose other than being yet another example of Rockstar’s fantastic sense of humour.
NBA Jam Tournament Edition (1995): Secret Roster
Although playing nearly identically to its predecessor, NBA Jam T.E. came packed with hidden extras and cheat codes. Then president Bill Clinton, his wife Hilary, and VP Al Gore all appeared as unlockables; and if that wasn’t enough, the cast of Mortal Kombat were included in various home console ports of the game.
Duke Nukem 3D (1996): Doom reference
Loaded with cheeky references to other games, perhaps the best Easter egg in Duke Nukem 3D was its parody of seminal FPS Doom. In a secret passageway — accessed by hitting a switch and smashing a stained glass window — a slaughered marine can be seen, at which Duke remarks, “Hmmm… That’s one doomed space marine.”
Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception (2011): Jak & Daxter Precursor Orb
As we’ve already seen, Naughty Dog is quite renowned for its inclusion of Easter eggs in its various series. One of the coolest came in Uncharted 3 (and 1 & 2, for that matter), where one of the items of treasure players could discover was a “strange relic”, based heavily on the Precursor Orbs from the Jak & Daxter trilogy.
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