As kids we loved to hunt for Easter eggs, but then we got older and most of us outgrew that particular childhood activity. Thankfully, not everyone did. Game developers… I’m looking at you!
An “Easter egg” is more than just a brightly colored egg. It can also be an intentionally placed inside joke, hidden item, message, or feature in a computer program, movie, or television show. Sometimes they’re easy to find, but other times it takes an incredible amount of sleuthing to find the little buggers.
It seems there are two origin stories about when and where the term “Easter egg” was first coined. One theory says it originated with the 1975 movie, The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Apparently the entire cast had an actual Easter egg hunt on set one day, but some of the eggs were so well hidden that they went undiscovered and ended up in various scenes throughout the film.
However, according to game designer Warren Robinett, the term started at Atari after employees were told about a secret message Robinett hid inside his 1979 game, Adventure (considered the very first graphical adventure game).
Easter eggs in video games can include funny scenes, an unexpected boss or monster, a hidden level, or some other extra tidbit intentionally left by the developers for gamers to discover as they play. Occasionally eggs are left out in the open, but sometimes gamers must know a certain procedure or enter a specific sequence of undocumented keystrokes to find them. A very long (and totally incomplete) list of these clandestine goodies can be found on The Easter Egg Archive website. Bottom line: there are tons of them. Everywhere. In most games.
Here are nine of my favorites, in no particular order…
Arkham City Plans
Batman: Arkham Asylum sold millions of copies, so you’d think nothing could stay hidden for very long. Well, you’d be wrong. In fact, Batman’s “Easter egg” was so well hidden that Rocksteady Studios had to reveal the existence of Warden Quincy Sharp’s secret room themselves.
This secret room sits right off of Sharp’s main office, but because it’s not found on any map, and the weakness in the wall can’t be seen using Batman’s detective vision, you need to know it’s there or you’d never find it. The only way to get in is by blowing it open with several applications of Bat’s explosive foam. Once inside you’ll find blueprints to Arkham City hanging on the wall along with a number of clues that link to Arkham City, the smash-hit sequel to Asylum.
We are (Caveman) Family
This is one of the creepier eggs you’re gonna find. It can be found in the first playable level of Halo 3 (Sierra 117), after Sgt. Johnson’s pelican goes down. Enter the woods and snipe the jackals until they’re all dead, turn around and head back. There’s an elevated area on the right… jump up and turn around. See that wall on your left? Walk on it until it stops. Turn around again and you’ll be faced with – a family of four cavemen, all with the same [email protected] face! The biggest one is holding a teddy bear. They do nothing, but if you shoot them they will bleed. W…T…F?!
These creeptastic cavemen (some call them cavemen, others call them monkeys) are found elsewhere too. One sits outside the map on the same level, and another exists in Halo 3: ODST. Check out how to find them here. It’s believed that the face is that of Marcus Lehto, the former Creative Art Director at Bungie Studios.
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is a great game. In fact, pretty much anything from Naughty Dog is a great game, but that’s my opinion. I’m also a big fan of the real-life actor, Nathan Fillion. Who else thinks Nathan Drake was modeled after Fillion? If he wasn’t, he should be. And Fillion should definitely play Drake in the Uncharted movie (if it ever gets made). But I digress…
The legend of Marco Polo was an important figure in history. An Italian merchant traveler and adventurer, he inspired Christopher Columbus as well as many other explorers. His rich legacy plays a big role in the game. But most of us only know him from the game we used to play in the pool when we were kids. Well, in Chapter 6 Drake runs across a roof top pool where you can make him jump in and play an impromptu game of Marco Polo with Chloe.
Heart of Liberty City
The games in the Grand Theft Auto series are massive, open world sandboxes that can’t be fully explored by most people. Which makes them the perfect environment for Easter eggs of all kinds. One of the bigger ones involves the Statue of Happiness (much like the Statue of Liberty, but perverted as only Rockstar can pervert) found in GTA IV.
Take a helicopter out to the island (you can use a boat, or swim if you’re feeling energetic) and make your way to the base of the statue. Locate the door sitting between two signs that read: “No Hidden Content This Way.” Duh! Disregard the signage, walk through the door and you’ll find a gargantuan, beating heart. Say what?!
Fighting Jason Voorhees
There are thousands of zombies roaming around Dead Island… and one horror film legend. During Act III look for a secret area in the jungle and you’ll find a big, machete-wielding, hockey-masked boss named “Jason.” While not officially the Jason Voorhees from the Friday the 13th movies… it’s him. He seems immune to the zombie virus, and he’s one mean sumbitch. In fact, don’t take him on until you’ve ransacked his house and found the chattering chainsaw weapon inside. It’s worth it!
Mining the Borders
Borderlands 2 is a big shooter full of laughs, gags and nods to other games. One of the more detailed (and harder to find) Easter eggs in the game is a fully playable section that pays a great deal of respect to Mojang’s Minecraft. Someone at Gearbox must really be addicted. Ironically, it’s found in an underground mine in the Caustic Caverns. Once inside you’ll be able to mine for ammo, hack blocks into dust, fight a badass Creeper, and collect Minecraft specific character heads and skins.
It’s tricky to find, so if you’re a party pooper who doesn’t want to actually look for this particular nugget o’ gold on your own you can find a fairly detailed set of directions here. But remember… half the fun is finding these things on your own.
Jar Jar’s Carbonite Comforter
I was 10 years old when Star Wars came out in 1977 and it consumed my life. Still does in many ways now that I’m in the 45+ demographic. Like many, I too hate the abomination that is Jar Jar Binks. And for that reason alone the Rancor egg found in Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II is one of the very best. Of all time. The Gungan is located inside the trophy room on the Imperial Kashykk level. Where I hope he remains for all eternity.
Lost on an Island
In Just Cause 2 there’s a small island at the top left hand corner of the world map. Go ahead and check it out, because it’s fully explorable. When you get there you may find that it looks familiar. That’s because it’s the same island from the hit TV show Lost! But it’s not just a dead zone. Not by a long shot.
Flying over the island will result in a Lost-like crash landing (as long as Ular Boy’s mission”Stranded” hasn’t been completed). Once you arrive the sky turns dark and it starts raining. Remains from Oceanic flight 815 sit on the beach. The smoke monster can not only be heard, but if you’re in the right place (X:2170; Y:1420)… it can be seen too. A slew of WWII Japanese soldiers are on the island protecting a network of towers and bunkers that connect to an Electromagnetic Pulse weapon. Ya, the gang at Avalanche Studios really raised the Easter egg bar with this one.
When One Portal Opens… (Portal 2)
Portal 2 is in my “Top 5 Games of All Time” list… along with a few of Valve‘s other games. And like many of them, it too is rife with brightly colored Aperture Science Sentry Turrets, er… I mean Easter eggs (the turrets look like eggs doncha think?). From the abandoned rooms laced with graffiti (supposedly written by a guy who lives inside the walls), to the weird sounds and chanting voices… one of the best (IMHO) focuses on four of the dulcet toned turrets singing to what can best be described as a “Prima Donna Turret.” If you came across this during your first play through you wouldn’t know that they were practicing for their big musical number at the end of the game.
This techno turret tune-up is in Test Chamber 16 (Chapter 3: The Return) hidden beside a gap in the wall near the start of the chamber where one lonely turret is visible.
“The Turret Opera” at the end of the game features several turrets – including the bigger “Prima Donna Turret” – singing the Italian aria, “Cara Mia Addio”… otherwise known as “it’s not over until the fat lady sings.”
Matter of fact… I think I hear her singing now. Ciao!