Some 3000 years ago, humanity was nearly wiped out by a giant vest-wearing rabbit. Today, we celebrate our close victory by symbolically consuming the rabbit’s broodlings before they can hatch and overrun all the Earth. Or something. Whatever. Here are some videogame Easter Eggs we like:
Mortal Kombat: Reptile fight
Easter Eggs were so much cooler in the era before the Internet. In the days before we could punch any question into a search box and get a blow-by-blow answer to every gaming query, we used to have to rely on hearsay, magazines, and outrageously expensive pay-by-the-minute hotlines staffed by mouth-breathing arch-nerds who worked with an excruciating lack of urgency.
The hidden Reptile fight in the original Mortal Kombat was all the cooler because Mortal Kombat itself was such an important release that changed the wider public’s perception of games. Its unapologetic depictions of violence dragged gaming as a medium into its moody, edgier adolescence.
To get to the fight, you had to win a double-flawless victory on The Pit level without blocking, then finish your opponent with a fatality. Oh, and a witch had to fly in front of the moon. Doing so would take you to the secret encounter, a battle with Reptile, who back then was an amalgam of Scorpion and Sub Zero.
Diablo II: The Cow Level
The Cow Level was the famous Easter Egg that wasn’t. Shortly after the original Diablo came out, some bored genius looked at all the cows grazing around Tristram and decided to start a rumour: if you clicked on the cows a certain number of times, a portal to a secret cow-themed level would open.
It wasn’t true, of course, but the rumour was eerily persistent – just what were all those cows up to, anyway?
Adding a real secret Cow Level to Diablo II was a no-brainer for Blizzard. To access that bipedal bovine hellscape, you had to combine Wirt’s Leg with a full Tome of Town Portal using the Horadric Cube. Doing so would open a portal in the Rogue Encampment in Act One. On the other side you’d face wave after wave of halberd wielding cows, and, finally, the The Cow King himself.
Uncharted 3: The Last of Us newspaper
This Easter Egg was actually a huge mistake. In Uncharted 3 there’s a newspaper that carries the headline, “Scientists are still struggling to understand deadly fungus”. It’s a clear reference to the studio’s next title, The Last of Us, only it was accidentally included in Uncharted 3 before The Last of Us was even revealed.
Here’s what happened. The Last of Us was supposed to be revealed at E3 2011. Uncharted 3 was going to come out in time for the 2011 holiday season. One of the designers included the Easter Egg as a little nod to attentive fans.
Then all of a sudden, the announcement of The Last of Us got pushed back to December 2011, but everyone had forgotten about the newspaper.
The next time Naughty Dog heard about it was on NeoGAF, but for once the Internet rumour mill worked in a developer’s favour. There’s no way the paper could be referring to Naughty Dog’s next game because everyone knows Naughty Dog only works on one game at a time – don’t you idiots know anything? Yeah, wrong.
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas: Hot Coffee mod
Granted, this one toes the line between mod and true Easter Egg, but it’s included here because Rockstar did in fact create the mini-game and all the assets for it.
“Hot Coffee” was a mini-game in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas that was never supposed to see the light of day. In it, players controlled CJ as he had sex with any one of his six girlfriends.
Rockstar clearly pulled the mini-game before San Andreas was released because it would’ve pushed the game into the Adults Only rating category, and therefore off the shelves of America’s largest retail chains.
At first, Rockstar denied authorship and claimed “hackers” had modified and reverse engineered the game’s code. But when the same code later showed up in console versions Rockstar was caught in the lie.
Inevitably, “Hot Coffee” caused a panic in the US that speaks to just how totally fucked up that country’s moral compass actually is. Using automatic weapons to accumulate bodies by the thousands is OK, but simulating sex between two consenting people – something that pretty much every adult on the planet has done? No siree, Bob.
Doom II: John Romero’s head on a stick
The final boss in Doom II is a huge goat-like skull attached to a wall. It spawns an endless legion of demons. It’s also John Romero’s head. The only way to beat the final boss in Doom II is with a rocket launcher, and that's because the real target, Romero's head, is hidden behind the skull.
To see the head itself, you needed to use a ‘No Clipping’ cheat code and run through to a cave in the demon-goat’s skull. Inside you’ll see a smarmy Romero that howls in pain when shot with any weapon.
There were plenty of rumours about Romero’s outlandish behaviour in those early days at id Software, but apparently he took it all in good humour and even recorded a clip to play backwards – “Satanic rock music”-style – at the start of the level: “To win the game, you must kill me, John Romero.”
◆ Those are some of our favourite Easter Eggs. Tell us in the comments what some of yours are. And don’t forget to gorge yourselves on the rabbit’s chocolate eggs, humans.