Since Warren Robinett slipped his name into 1979’s Adventure, developers have been adding their own touches to games. Whether it’s John Romero’s head in Doom II, Treyarch putting entire games in both Call of Duty: Black Ops games, or Metal Gear Solid 3’s “Guy Savage” nightmare mission, easter eggs have been a long-running stable of the medium. Given the volume of secrets in gaming’s long history, it’s difficult to narrow down the best, but the following five are some of our favorites.
#5 Batman Arkham Asylum: Warden’s Secret Room
The first one on our list is well known by now, but it didn’t start out that way. In fact, Rocksteady had to tell gamers about during their Game of the Year Edition podcast an entire six months after the game launched, a nearly impossible feat in the era of modern gaming.
For this secret, go to the Warden’s office in Arkham Mansion. As you enter, there is a completely blank wall to the left. Through multiple uses of Batman’s explosive spray, you can open Warden Sharp’s secret room, where he has detailed plans to open a new prison in the heart of Gotham. Few developers have this level of foresight, and it’s doubly fun because Rocksteady was able to tease the sequel without a hokey cliffhanger ending taking away from this one’s sense of closure.
#4 Halo Reach: Fan Tribute Room
In 2010, series creator Bungie officially moved on from the Halo franchise, but not without recognizing the impact their franchise has had in the online space. Entire careers and companies have been built with Halo as their foundation, and it’s clear that Bungie is grateful to have been a part of that. For this secret, check out the video below, courtesy of Red vs. Blue creators Rooster Teeth.
#3 Silent Hill 2: Dog Ending
Despite it being one of the best survival horror games ever made, I have yet to play Silent Hill 2. This secret is among the first things I knew about the game, because discussions about Silent Hill 2 can easily bring up what is one of the most bizarre endings that I’ve ever heard of. Here’s how to unlock it for yourself, courtesy of the Silent Hill wiki page:
To get this ending, the player must receive the three normal endings, Leave, In Water, and Maria, or just receive the Rebirth Ending in a replay game. Once these endings are on the same save file, load it and start a new game. When exiting Rosewater Park for the first time, head straight and enter an open yard just west of Jack’s Inn Inside is a doghouse with a key inside. Get the key and use it to enter the Observation Room on 3F of the Nightmare Lakeview Hotel, after viewing the video tape in Room 312.
If you complete these steps, Harry learns that the puppet master controlling the terrible things in Silent Hill is none other than… a medium sized corgi. Oh, it returns in Silent Hill: Origins, and we learn that the dog is working with aliens.
#2 Mega Man X: Hadouken
Mega Man X is a tough game, but this attack, brought over from Capcom’s Street Fighter series, makes things a bit easier. Except for the final boss, this powerful move destroys any enemy in one hit. To get it, however, is a complicated endeavor.
In the Armored Armadillo stage, after collecting all other weapons and power-ups, there is an energy pellet on a cliff. Grab this, and fall off the cliff. Then do this again, and again, and once more. This might sound like one of the false “secrets” gaming magazines at the time printed, but I promise that we’re not messing with you. On the fourth time, the pellet will become a power-up, and that is the mighty hadouken.
#1 Metal Gear Solid 3: The End
This is one of my personal favorites, and the one that was most suggested by my fellow fanatics when asked which secrets should make this list. In Metal Gear Solid 3, The End is known as “the father of modern sniping.” His boss fight is one of the most innovative, grueling experiences of the entire game, and an absolute blast. It can also be completely avoided.
Early in the game, Snake has a shot at the legend. After defeating The Pain, you’ll approach a bunker after watching Ocelot play head games with Sokolov, the scientist you’ve been sent to rescue. After the cutscene, you have a clear shot at The End, should you have acquired a sniper rifle before. If you connect the shot, The End is no more.
You can also defeat him by doing nothing at all. If you save during the fight and return to the game later, The End, who is already over 100 years old, will simply expire on his own. The old man is crafty, though. If you reload the game between two to six days later, he’ll transport you back to Granini Gorki, a research facility that Snake infiltrated much earlier. The way to outlive him is by waiting one week or more, or by setting your system clock forward.
It’s rare that an easter egg can so directly impact something so major as a boss battle, and The End deserves our number one spot for doing it with grace.