It’s Easter once again – that magical time of year where you get your youngest child to lay an egg under the Easter Tree then all gather round the bonfire for the chocolate goblin. Or something like that.
Anyway, there’s no better time to take a look at some of the greatest Easter eggs that developers have hidden away in classic video games, so that’s what we’re gonna do. Right now.
Super Mario 64 – Yoshi on the Roof
This was one Easter egg that really made you work to get it, in that would only reveal itself to the most skilled players who bagged all 120 of Super Mario 64’s stars.
Not only would doing so get you the inherent sense of pride that comes with besting one of the finest games of all time, but you’d also get to visit the roof of Peach’s castle, where none other than Yoshi would be waiting for you – the glorious green bastard.
Speaking with Yoshi will net you a shit ton of 1-Up mushrooms as he fondly recalls your last adventure together. Clearly he forgot that Mario rode him around like an abused Donkey at Blackpool beach.
Arkham Asylum – Hidden Room
The sublime Batman: Arkham Asylum is home to one of the most secret secrets ever to secret, in that there is literally nothing in the entire game that clues you into the location or existence of it.
Those who have played Arkham Asylum will know that Batman has a handy gadget that allows you to blow up certain walls, and these walls are always clearly visible to the point that it’s almost kind of ridiculous.
However, going to a specific room and planting your explosives on a specific part of a specific (and unmarked) wall will reveal a hidden room – who had the time to go around trying to blow up every wall in the game, I’ll never know.
Hidden within the room are blueprints and images for something called Arkham City, which as we now know turned out to be the second game in the franchise. Very, very sneaky.
DOOM 2 – John Romero
Hey, John Romero – remember that time you made a game about going into hell to murder ALL the demons, and plonked a pixelated approximation of your severed head impaled on a pole in a hidden room behind said game’s final boss.
Oh, and remember how the final boss was basically just a giant demonic wall, and that your head was actually the boss’ weakpoint -but only players who used a clipping cheat could actually see you?
Oh John Romero, you so crazy.
Silent Hill 4 – Robbie the Rabbit
Silent Hill 4 teaches us a valuable lesson in peeping on our neighbors, courtesy of Robbie, the pink (and possibly possessed by a demon) Rabbit.
At one point in Silent Hill 4 you’re able to peek through a crack in the wall to see the girl next door, and a relatively innocent looking pink stuffed rabbit flopped down on the bed. Cute.
Peeping through the crack a second time however, will cause most players to suffer a small heart attack – Robbie has turned around and is looking straight at you, with his mouth covered in what appears to be blood.
Clearly the lesson here is if that you try to perv on people, not only are you a massive creep, but the hordes of hell will send its minions for you.
Uncharted 3 – The Last of Us
Fun fact: This is one Easter Egg that Naughty Dog actually forgot to take out of Uncharted 3, leaving in completely by mistake for players to stumble across.
The Last of Us was supposed to have been revealed before the release of Uncharted 3, but wasn’t for some reason or other.
The newspaper clipping on the bar in Nathan Drake’s third adventure alludes to the virus which serves as the catalyst to the events of The Last of Us, and was supposed to build hype after its initial reveal.
Obviously people playing Uncharted 3 around the time of its release had no idea the significance of this newspaper, but hindsight is a beautiful thing.
Metal Gear Solid 3 – The End’s Old Age
In a move that can only be described as ‘classic Kojima’, the excellent Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater has a brilliantly weird alternative option if you can’t be bothered to straight up fight The End.
All you need to do is save your game, turn it off, reset your PlayStation 2’s (or 3DS’) internal clock forward a few weeks, and jump back into the game. The pesky sniper will simply have died of old age, freeing you up to go about your business unhindered.
Time makes fools of us all, but it really makes The End look like a right twat.
Ocarina of Time – Mario paintings
In the Zelda game nobody can seem to get over, there’s a neat reference to Nintendo’s other big property in the form of Mario and friends.
A few hours into the game, once you’ve snuck your way into the Hyrule Castle gardens to meet Zelda herself, you can peer through one of the windows to see that the royal family has decked out its halls with pictures of Mario and Bowser.
Even better, if you go all public menace and hit said window with your slingshot, you’ll get 50 rupees for your troubles – never let it be said that vandalism doesn’t pay.
Diablo II – Secret Cow Level
Perhaps one of the strangest and most beloved Easter eggs of all time, the secret cow level is… well, it’s a secret level full of cows.
Combining certain items once you’ve killed the final boss will grant you access to this bovine paradise, where you’ll be able to slay demonic cows until the regular cows come home.
What makes this secret level all the sweeter is that Blizzard has constantly denied its very existence, clearly preferring players to track it down themselves.
Saints Row 2 – Giant Ocean Bunny
As far as Easter eggs go, a giant purple rabbit that rises from the ocean depths is a pretty solid one, and very much in line with the spirit of the holiday.
There are a series of small islands tucked away in Saints Row that, when followed in the correct order, will reveal the location of our bunny friend.
Of course, the beast doesn’t actually do anything besides float there and look vacant – but it’s so completely bizarre that it’d be wrong to label finding it as a waste of time.
Skyrim – Vulthuryol
Skyrim is a huge game, and as such it’s hardly surprising that it’s stuffed with a ridiculous amount of things to see and do.
There are actually a number of hidden bosses lurking across Bethesda’s fantasy masterpiece, but I’d peg Vulthuryol as the best, if only because it’s likely to be the first one gamers find on their travels.
All you need to do is head to the underground ruins of Blackreach (not an easy job if you’re doing it for the first time), and use your Unrelenting Force shout on a big shiny doodad – you really can’t miss it, and doing so will summon a charming Dragon by the name of Vulthuryol.
Your reward is a relatively easy fight with a secret dragon, but it’s always cool when an Easter egg gifts you with something you can actually use, or a fight of some kind, rather than a simple visual treat.
If nothing else, all these cool secrets in video games inspire gamers everywhere to head back into their favourite titles and go over them with a fine tooth comb in case they missed something – and really, isn’t that what Easter is all about?*
*No. Not even slightly.
Ewan Moore is a journalist at UNILAD Gaming who still quite hasn’t gotten out of his mid 00’s emo phase. After graduating from the University of Portsmouth in 2015 with a BA in Journalism & Media Studies (thanks for asking), he went on to do some freelance words for various places, including Kotaku, Den of Geek, and TheSixthAxis, before landing a full time gig at UNILAD in 2016.