If the term “Easter egg” makes you think of hunting down hidden jokes, details, and stories in video games — and not, you know, the Easter holiday — then this list is for you. A lot of times, finding the Easter eggs in a game can be as fun and challenging as actually playing the game itself. From the very first Easter egg, hidden in a 1979 maze game (and, coincidentally, the first on this alphabetical list), to all of those UFOs and ghosts in the latest Grand Theft Auto release, here are 50 of the greatest gaming Easter eggs of all time. Click on the titles for videos and more information on how to find the Easter eggs. Also, beware: Spoilers abound. Happy hunting, comrades!
Released on Christmas in 1979, Atari’s Adventure is considered the first action-adventure game. It also introduced the Easter egg to the gaming world. Move a dot down a corridor and your character–really just a colored square–will be able to enter a room, in which you see the words, “Created by Warren Robinett.” Back then, video-game developers weren’t given credit, so Robinett inserted his byline into the game. The Easter egg ate up five percent of the cartridge’s storage space, but instead of doling out the tens of thousands of dollars necessary to produce an Easter Egg-free version, Atari just left it in. Thus, the Easter Egg was born.
If you decide to take a break from helping George Washington defeat the Redcoats and hang out at the homestead, find a turkey. Go up to it, feed it and punch in the famous Konami Code (that’s “up up down down left right left right B A,” of course). The turkey will don a cloak and hood just like your Assassin! Because why not, right?
This is a cool thing: Every named character you kill throughout the Assassin’s Creed series was a real, historical person, and the location and year of their death in the series is the same as the location/year of their death in real life. However, none of them were really killed by a hooded, free-running assassin, as far as we know.
For six months after Arkham Asylum was released, nobody knew about its big Easter egg, so the developers had to show it themselves. Go into the warden’s office inside Arkham Mansion and blow up the left wall by the fireplace. A secret room! And inside the secret room? Blueprints for a city-sized expansion of Arkham Asylum, a teaser for the game’s sequel, Arkham City.
After you defeat Ra’s Al Ghul and you’re escaping from the sewers of Arkham, make a quick pit stop and chat with Killer Croc. He’s super friendly in an “I-want-to-kill-you” sort of way.
In the first BioShock, you find yourself in the underwater
paradise dystopia of Rapture after your plane crashes into the ocean. In BioShock 2, you find the ruins of that plane, scattered on an undersea mountain. Continuity!
“Double rainbowwww!” Head to the edge of the Hyperion base and jump off it; you land by this tented encampment area. Look to the horizon and you see a double rainbow. That’s when either Handsome Jack or Claptrap recite that “Double Rainbow” monologue that went viral a few years ago.
So you’re playing the Nuketown 2025 map and you’re all, I should shoot all the heads off these mannequins within 90 seconds, right? Good idea! Head to that big TV screen in the middle of the map and play some old-school Atari 2600 Activision games.
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
This Easter egg is different because it’s not a part of the gameplay or anything software-based. It’s all hidden in the hardware. Take the disc of this game and put it in your CD player (assuming you still have a disc version of Castlevania and a CD player lying around). Skip to track 2 and you hear a version of the main theme.
Need a break from the action in this futuristic first-person shooter? In the Dead Man Walking level in Crysis 2, take the elevator and go down a hallway. Hop the red rope by a surveillance camera and flip a nearby switch. Head back to the elevator from whence you came and jump over another red rope. There’ll be a second elevator and the switch by it will be glowing. Flip that switch and the elevator’s doors will open. Inside will be a disco party, minus the afros and white leisure suits.
One zombie game tips its hat to another with this Easter egg. In the first Resident Evil after one character saves Jill Valentine, the protagonist, from a trap, he says, “You were almost a Jill sandwich!” In Dead Rising, one of the eateries in the mall you’re trapped in is called Jill’s Sandwiches. Referential!
If you played Dead Space and were all, “Yo, what’s the deal with Nicole,” you can find the answer with the first letter of each mission title. Put together, they spell, “NICOLE IS DEAD.” Mystery solved!
Dead Space 2
Beat this game in “hardcore” mode and it will reward you with a foam finger, but not just any, stadium-variety foam finger. This foam finger is, as the game describes it, a hand cannon, and it will blast your enemies apart all while going “pew pew pew.”
Jump through a portal and you get to fight some seriously tough ax-wielding cows. This Easter egg is an inside joke among Diablo diehards: There was a rumor about the first Diablo that if one of the random cows that appeared throughout the game was clicked on enough times, a portal to a secret level would open. This rumor came true with the sequel, with a hidden level full of heavily armed bovines.
Along with cows, you can also fight brightly colored ponies. In Diablo 3, after speaking with the ghost of the Cow King, you enter the realm of Whimsyshire, where you must combat your darkest, most demonic foe yet: giant, My Little Pony-style unicorns. It’ll make you shudder in terror.
Shoot the final boss–a giant demon head–with a rocket launcher, then enter the “noclip” cheat code. Walk through the hole you’ve made in the boss’s head, and into a room. In the room you’ll find another head, that of John Romero, the creator of the Doom series. He’ll say, backwards, “To win the game, you must kill me, John Romero.” Shoot him a bunch of times and you indeed win the game.
In the penultimate level, go to the third room and press the action button at one of the walls. It will open, and inside will be a familiar sight to Simpsons fans: Homer’s desk at Sector 7G of Mr. Burns’ nuclear power plant, including donuts.
Find and open a hidden door, and you’ll be greeted with a really rude message in graffiti. Sigh. Some Easter eggs are rotten.
In the wasteland, you may come across a refrigerator, a strange thing to come across in the desert, to be sure. Open it and you’ll find a skeleton wearing a fedora. It’s Indiana Jones himself! Apparently that “nuke the fridge” trick he pulled in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull didn’t work out to well for him.
Play the Rolling Thunder mission on insane difficulty. At the beginning, there are three cowboys hats down on the ground below your huge vehicle. Shoot all three. You’ll hear a “Yee-haw!” and you and your team will be wearing cowboy hats. Down the road, you’ll encounter a corpser bursting from the ground. It too will be wearing a cowboy hat and bellowing, “Yee-haw!”
Pay no attention to the “No Hidden Content This Way” sign on the door at the base of the Statue of Happiness. Walk through it, go up a ladder and you’ll find a huge beating heart–the “Heart of the City.” Weird.
Played a certain way, and GTA V is more like The X-Files than The Wire. Hunt down Sasquatch and ghosts in the woods. Fly with UFOs, or use a submersible to find them underwater. Also underwater: an alien corpse frozen in ice under a bridge. Those Rockstar guys really love their paranormal activity.
So, you go through the trouble of getting to the top of the bridge that connects San Fierro and Las Venturas, only to find this sign: “There are no Easter eggs up here. Go away.” Ah, bummer!
The developers of GTA clearly love to mess with the idea of the Easter egg. Go to the top of a building and jump off it. You’ll miraculously go through the window of a neighboring building. You’ll be inside a room with a pedestal, on top of which is a big chocolate egg with “Happy Easter!” written on it.
Those Headcrab zombies were unsettling enough, what with their claw arms and gaping chest mouths and stuff. Turns out they can be even more unsettling! Their moans and groans are the words “God help! Help me!” looped backwards. Yet another reason not to play this at night.
The Megg, a gift from the lead designer to his girlfriend, is notoriously difficult to find. After storming through the Marines base and avoiding death, you’ll find, on the ceiling, some blood smeared in a vague heart shape, with an “M” made of bullet holes in the middle. Aw, how sweet.
Are these things monkeys or cavemen? Who even knows (well, probably the designers who created these monstrosities)! They’ve got the bodies of monkeys, but have human faces and live in a cave, which you can find on the Sierra 117 level. What’s weirder is that they’re not even the only monkeys/cavemen you find in Halo 3: you can find one hanging out on a cliff and another in the shadows of the final cut scene of ODST.
If you love Conan O’Brien and his sidekick Andy Richter, and you’re thinking, “I wish these guys had a cameo in a video game, maybe Halo,” well, first of all that’s a very specific wish. Secondly, a very accurate wish. At the beginning of the sixth mission, in the hangar, you can find the two, voicing a couple Marines guarding crates. Walk up to them and wait a minute, and they’ll start talking to each other. Try it a couple times and you’ll hear three different conversations.
During the mission called “End of the Road,” you’ll be out in the middle of the desert with a guy you can kill or leave in the desert to find for himself. Or you can have an ice-cream truck appear out of nowhere and run him over. To do this, shoot all five vultures circling in the air above you, then sit back and watch as the ice-cream truck materializes and careens into your target.
Here’s a spooky Easter egg for ya. While on mission in the Thermal Bath Hotel, you may think you’re being all stealthy and no one can see you, but there’s a ghost … and it knows ALL. If you pick the lock of a door marked “Wing Closed,” you’ll find a hallway and five rooms. The ghost can be found in each of the room and walking down the hallway.
While playing the AGI version of the game, type “BEAM ME” outside the prison cell after you, as Rosella, vanquish Lolotte. You’ll be transported to a room straight out of The Jetsons, full of folk in white labcoats. They introduce themselves as the developers of King’s Quest IV. Whoa, super-meta.
While you’re searching the garbage can for clues in “The Silk Stocking Murder” case, you’ll come across a battered cowboy hat, perhaps belonging to John Marston, the main character of Red Dead Redemption, another Rockstar title.
There are lots of Easter eggs in Marvel’s Spider-Man for the PlayStation 4, but the one featuring a shirtless web-head is particularly comical. The reference is, of course, to Greg Miller of Kinda Funny, who — when leading up to the game’s release — dressed up as a shirtless Spider-Man to show his excitement for it. The developers at Insomniac took notice and implemented a version of him into the game.
When Solid Snake meets the Psycho Mantis, something cray happens. While the Mantis does his spiel, the game scans your memory card for any saved Konami games. If there are any, the Mantis will refer to them, making it look like he’s really reading your mind (well, memory card). Mind: Blown.
After the Volgin torture scene, save the game, restart it and load the saved game. Instead of the familiar Metal Gear Solid, you’ll be greeted by a hazy, black-and-white game called Guy Savage, in which you hack and slash vampires with what looks like a ski pole or something. Welcome to Snake’s nightmare sequence!
Another MGS 3 Easter egg. You can confront The End (an old sniper guy) a couple ways: You can sneak up on him while he’s in his sniping position, sleeping to “conserve his energy,” and knife him. Or you can save the game, turn it off, go hang out with friends and family, watch some movies, read some books, play some other games go to work, whatever, for a week or so, come back, load the game and find that The End has died of old age. Nifty!
While playing “Part D” of the “Kate” level, shoot the engine of the truck as it turns the first corner. Then, look at the farthest building: it will have two orange signs on it. Zoom in on the right one and shoot the white dot in the middle. Suddenly, GIANT RAT running down the street.
The Super Nintendo version of the arcade classic had a grip of cheat codes, including ones that let you play as the Clintons, Prince Charles, or the Fresh Prince of Bel Air.
Hidden on every level of this N64 game, the oft-called spiritual successor to GoldenEye 007, is a piece of cheese. You can’t grab it. It doesn’t do anything. It’s just there. Apparently, the developers originally planned to have them be collectible items, then scrapped the idea but left the cheese in.
We all tend to think of this game as a fun, sometimes frustrating puzzler, right? Just good, clean, brain-teasing fun? Nope! If you stand close enough to the graffiti-covered walls of a hidden room in one of the test levels, you’ll hear faint chanting. According to fan speculation, the person doing the chanting is a guy called Doug Ratman, a schizophrenic living in the walls.
As a reward for beating this game, you get a pet unicorn with a rainbow horn named Mr. Toots. Aw! Wait, Mr. Toots is a weapon, not a pet, shooting highly powerful rainbow laser beams out of his ass. As you can tell from his face, he’d much rather just be a pet.
This Easter egg is a giant Easter bunny, rising from the sea! Hop from the prison island to the nuclear plant island to, finally, a much smaller island, and your long sea voyage will be rewarded with a huge rabbit emerging from the depths. Shoot it to send the bunny behemoth back to Davey Jones’ Locker.
Silent Hill 2 is a lot less terrifying thank to an Easter-egg alternate ending: Play through once, then pick up a key at a park and go to the observation room of the Dark Side hotel. Inside, Wizard of Oz-like, is the true puppeteer of the game’s events: an adorable Shibu Inu. So surprise. Much Easter egg.
Enter the code “Deadspacetoo” and you can skate as Isaac from the Dead Space series. So that’s what he’s up to when he’s not combatting horrifying monsters in outer space!
Make the cut scenes of the PC game interesting by pressing “Alt+V” and typing “OVRES”. Now all of the cut scenes come with commentary from the guy and robots from the Mystery Science Theater 3000 TV series.
At one point in this game, your character, Starkiller (the original last name of Luke Skywalker, by the way), comes across a figure frozen in carbonite. No, it’s not Han Solo–that wouldn’t be canonical!–it’s Jar Jar Binks. Please, for the galaxy’s sake, keep him frozen.
In the second mission of this sequel, you’ll find a room with a hologram of Jabba the Hutt. To the left of the hologram you’ll discover a statue of Guybrush Threepwood, the main character of the classic Monkey Island graphic adventure series, also developed by LucasArts.
Maybe you played A Link to the Past and came across a secret room, where some kid named Chris Houlihan introduced himself and declared the room is his. You might be thinking “who’s Chris Houlihan?” In 1990, Nintendo held a contest and the randomly selected winner would make an appearance in the next Legend of Zelda game. Chris Houlihan was that winner.
The developers of The Witcher 2 ribbed the Assassin’s Creed crew with this Easter egg. By Bastille gate, you’ll find a figure in the white cloak and hood of the Assassin, laying dead by a bale of hay. Turns out that leaps of faith only work in Assassin’s Creed.
Take a break from all the derring-do you’re derring-doing and head to the top of the Hotel Shangri-La. Sounds like paradise already! There you’ll find a pool that you can swim in and use to play Marco Polo. Feeling relaxed already!
This is a pretty typical, lighthearted racing game until you enter a code on the audio settings screen. The Easter egg turns the sports announcer into a sarcastic jackass, making fun of your every move. Then the typical racing game becomes an exercise to see how strong your self-esteem is.
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