Some Easter eggs and secrets aren’t actually that hard to find. Sometimes they are even connected to achievements or trophies in-game, making them very easy to locate. But some secrets are much harder to find and honestly make me wonder how anyone ever finds these things.
One of my favorite discoveries they showcased in the video is a hidden weapon found in Brothers In Arms: Hell’s Highway. The secret gun is actually not a gun, but a cat that shoots laser or plasma orbs. Finding this Easter egg is not easy and involves shooting precise spots of a level in a certain order. None of these spots are marked and there is no indication that you are hitting them correctly.
How anyone found this is beyond me. It makes me want to load up some old games and shoot everything around me in different patterns. Who knows, maybe buried in some old shooter from the early 2000s is a hidden dog that shoots fire?
Princess Peach is powerful and not to be messed with in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. But I never expected that she was secretly carrying an assault rifle. Yet that’s what fans found when they dug around the files of Brawl.
YouTuber Oddheader recently released a video showcasing some secrets in video games that players and fans were never meant to find. Yet people found these secrets anyways because people have too much free time, I guess. Like the assault rifle in Brawl. It is a small icon that can be found in the game files for Peach. It is never used in the game, but I like to think Peach has it just in case. She is fighting people like Solid Snake and a giant monkey. Having a gun might be useful.
Another odd discovery is some hidden animations in Halo 2 featuring the Master Chief flipping off the camera while holding dual SMGs. That Master Chief fella is such a grumpy soldier.
The full video has more secrets that players have found. I wonder how many developers see stuff like this and suddenly realize that secret mistake or code they left in one of their old games might not be as hidden as they thought.
Sometimes when I’m playing a game and it ain’t great or I’m bored, I’ll wish I was playing something else. That usually means exiting the game and loading up a new video game. But there are some devs that have kindly tossed in a whole different game inside another game, letting players take a break from fighting to play some Breakout.
Over on YouTube, The Easter Egg Hunter released a video this week showcasing some of the best and oddest games hidden in other games.
For example, in Hitman (2016) players can actually play Minesweeper on a computer found in the game. To access this game a player will need to have an explosive rubber ducky and place it underneath a specific pole in the world. Once that has been done, for some reason, Minesweeper becomes available to play.
This isn’t a list of every instance of a hidden game inside another game. But a few of these I didn’t know about. This video also got me thinking about one of my favorite examples of a game in a game, which was Test Drive: Overdrive on the PS2. It had a playable version of Pong during loading screens. The game wasn’t great, so my brother and I ended up playing a lot of Pong instead of racing.
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas was ported to mobile devices back in 2013 and then this version of the game was ported to PS3 and Xbox 360, as well as a few other places. GTA fans and modders have recently found that in this mobile version of the game there are a host of new and undocumented cheat codes that aren’t found in the PS2 version of the game.
Popular GTA YouTuber Vadim M has teamed up with a group of other dedicated GTA fans to showcase some of these hidden cheats they found buried in the mobile version of GTA: San Andreas.
The mobile version of San Andreas was created by War Drum Studios and it seems during the development of the port, the studio added in new dev tools and cheats. Most of these hidden cheat codes feel like they would be used during development to test and debug the game. However, in adding these new cheats War Drum Studios broke the original cheat code system in the game. This makes it trickier to activate some of these cheats, but not impossible. Using a keyboard plugged into a mobile device, players can enter in specific letter combinations to activate these hidden codes.
For example, one cheat gives CJ certain weapons and gear that aren’t easily obtained in the game outside of specific missions. This could be useful for developers to test out these items, like how they impact performance, without having to load up a certain save or finish a large chunk of the game.
Another very useful cheat, for both devs and players, is the “scriptbypass” cheat. When this cheat code is activated the player immediately skips whatever mission or event is currently active. This code could be extremely useful for completing the infamously hard and annoying Zero RC missions. For the developers, this code was probably very useful for skipping sections of the game quickly to test other areas or activities.
San Andreas is a hugely popular game, with millions of devoted fans and modders. Yet players are still finding new things in the game or learning more about how it works. Which makes me wonder about other games that are less popular. How many cheat codes are buried in these games that nobody has found?
Popular YouTube channel Boundary Break, who has popped up on Kotaku multiple times, has released a new video where he explores Borderlands 2. But this time the channel was able to get a developer from the studio behind Borderlands, Gearbox, to actually help explain some of the more strange out of bound secrets and discoveries. It turns out Borderlands 2 is filled with hidden cubes and boxes.
Kyle Pittman, a senior programmer on Borderlands 1, 2 and the upcoming third game, explained some of the behind-the-scenes reasoning behind some of the random things found inside mountains or below buildings.
One great example is found early on in the game. If you take the camera through one of the large, snowy mountains in the opening area you can find a Claptrap model, which is frozen in a single pose. This is a static mesh and it was placed in the level to help designers building the area with scale. But as the level was changed later in development, the mountain was added and covered the Claptrap and nobody remembered to delete it.
Hidden outside the map in every area of the game you will find a large rectangular box. This untextured box actually has 4 more untextured boxes inside it. So what is the purpose of this odd creation?
As Pittman explained to Boundary Break, this box is a global loader. The object is used as a safe place to store players and their vehicles during teleportation. It was created after bugs in Borderlands 1 development. Sometimes players would spawn into maps to early and fall through the world. These global loader boxes prevent that from happening.
Speaking of boxes, if you dig around Borderlands 2 you will find even more boxes, including rainbow-colored flashing cubes and floating translucent yellow boxes. So many cubes! These all have different in-game purposes, from marking deleted content to being used for specific actions or events.
The entire video is a wonderful look behind the scenes of how a big game like Borderlands 2 is put together. Some areas have totally different layouts based on memory restrictions, time constraints or other problems. Game development really is all about solving problems. Well, solving problems and placing cubes.
Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is a pitch-perfect throwback to the Castlevania games produced by veteran designer Koji Igarashi. As far as tributes go, it’s spot-on, resurrecting the ghost of Symphony of the Night and its successors—and if you know where to look, you’ll find a whole zone dedicated to an homage even older Castlevania games. Read no further if you want to find it on your own.
The 8-Bit Nightmare is one of Bloodstained’s coolest secrets. It’s a whole zone that, like the title suggests, replicates the ultra-hard, early 8-bit Castlevania games.
Getting there is actually pretty easy. You can access it as soon as you’ve explored Hall of Termination, about halfway through the game. Here’s where it is on the map.
All you have to do is make it to the warp room and step outside. There’s a breakable ceiling at the very top of this room—just break it, and you’ll find a secret room full of treasure.
But wait, there’s more! That secret room has another secret room, this one a little less hidden. Just make your way all the way to the left and break the wall.
This will, hilariously, lead you to a room that contains a portrait of Bloodstained creator Koji Igarashi and also a haunted-ass bookcase. Go pull a book from that bookcase, and voila: You are in the 8-bit nightmare.
You might not want to stay there, though. The 8-Bit Nightmare is hard. At least, it’s hard in comparison to the part of the game from which you can access it. Here’s some footage of Kotaku’s Heather Alexandra taking a stab at it around that point in the game, and despite her very good gear, the demons here are still tough as hell.
So despite being able to reach it when you’re roughly halfway through Bloodstained, it’s probably better to hold off until you’re ready for the final stretch, or after you’ve cleared the entire game. Do some crafting, find a gear set that suits your playstyle, and have at it.
Making games is really hard and takes a long time. If you are like me and have never actually made a game before, it can be nearly impossible to understand just how hard development can be or how long it can really take. So to help save time, money and headaches, developers will often reuse assets in creative ways. But as Nelson also explained to me, reusing assets isn’t always a time saver and is a testament to how inventive developers can be.
While some gamers might see this as lazy, the reality is this is an important technique and helps devs finish your favorite games in a shorter amount of time. And some of the ways devs reuse assets are just as creative and interesting as the story or action found in their games.
Developer Jessica Ross explained that on one unnamed game, she had to animate a person having their heart ripped out of their body. However she didn’t have time to animate a heart so instead relied on some pastries. “I didn’t have time to model a heart, so I just took a baguette, scaled it down, and made it red.”
As pointed out by developer Ruby on Twitter, Warframe reuses many assets in various different ways. (To clarify: Ruby isn’t a developer on Warframe.) For example, as seen in the tweets above, some weapons are scaled up to and used to create new geometry on ships.
Another Twitter user, Carl Muckenhoupt, shared how Telltale reused a character model from a poker game to create an enemy in a different game. All it took was a name change and a mustache.
One of my favorite examples of reusing assets and content was shared by Kelly Snyder, who previously worked at Bungie. She explained that Aksis in Destiny 1 was just a heavily modified spider tank. “This is why 3 of coins doesn’t work on him- on the back end he’s technically not an ultra, he’s a vehicle.”
Some folks might see this reuse of assets as lazy. But Nelson told me this was not the case at all. In fact, while reusing assets can save time and money, it can also be even harder than making something new. “The problem solving needed to get a new solution from old pieces can take just as much effort, if not more, than just creating something new,” Nelson said. “Reused assets are a testament to developer ingenuity, not a willingness to cut corners.”
Reusing assets can happen for various reasons. Sometimes a project is low on funds and taking the time to figure out clever ways to repurpose enemies or items can help save money. But other times it can be a technical limitation. For example, a game getting too big for a cart and needing to reuse assets in clever ways to save space.
Nelson did admit that some games that are just straight asset flips do exist. These are games that are generally made very quickly using pre-built assets that are purchased on engine stores, like Unity. These games can be found on Steam and Google Play. But these are different from a developer reusing assets in a creative way.
“[Asset flips are the] equivalent of someone buying a Spider-Man costume on the internet and uploading their 720p backyard shenanigans as SPIDER-MAN: THE MOVIE. It’s not the real thing, and it wasn’t intended to be in the first place.”
In many ways, asset recycling is not unlike how many props get reused in TV shows and movies. The logic being, if you already made a set of space chairs, why make new ones if the old ones will fit in the scene? Especially if the chairs are barely seen in the movie anyway? Reusing assets in games can serve a similar purpose. If you already built a monster or sword for one game or level, why make a totally new one?
As games become bigger and bigger, with better-looking graphics and more complex systems, it will become harder and harder to make games in a healthy and affordable way without reusing assets. But this isn’t a bad thing. Reusing assets, if done correctly, will go unnoticed by most players and not ruin the game.
And it can lead to game development becoming easier, quicker and even less unhealthy. It can also help developers overcome budgetary or technical limits. And for eagle-eyed fans, it can provide a fun game-within-game, as they search for the source of that jetpack or building.
Hundreds of crappy party games were developed and published for the Wii and Wii U back in the day. They were usually cheap, not as good as Wii Sports and quickly forgotten. But one of those games, Game Party Champions, included something very strange. A personal story about a child dealing with the loss of their father and how that father’s ghost helps the child win the tournament of minigames.
The Game Party series consisted of 4 games and was originally published by Midway Games starting on Wii. But after 2009 and after WB Games bought Midway’s library, WB Games wanted another Game Party title. They were cheap to make and sold well. But, according to Bowler, WB Games wanted something different this time. They wanted a story mode. This was an odd choice for a game that was going to cost $20 and would most likely be bought by grandparents as a last minute gift. But Bowler, who was already tired of working on games like this, decided to take this opportunity and ran with it.
Bowler wrote a script for the story mode that other people working on the game would describe as “Fight Club, For Kids.” The story was serious and would be dark and weird, but the real reveal of this wouldn’t happen until the very end of the game. And then the unexpected happened, WB Games approved the script.
“When Joel told me in our next meeting ‘Hey I loved your script treatment. I sent it along to WB with my blessing and they approved it straight away,’ I kinda felt like I’d gotten away with murder. Because like, I snuck in the weirdest story-mode of any party game, EVER,” tweeted Bowler.
The story is fairly innocuous at first. The main character is silent, due to the low budget of the game and they have a friend named Jace who convinces them to stop being mopey and get out and compete in a tournament of mini-games. In a cutscene fairly early into the game, it is revealed, in this party game collection for kids, that Jace is actually trying to help the main character get over the loss of their father.
Things continue to get weirder as the game’s story mode continues. Jace only speaks and interacts with the main character and nobody else. No other characters ever talk to or interact with Jace. At the very end of the game, it is finally revealed that Jace is actually the ghost of the main character’s father.
“He’s trying to motivate his kid that he loves to get up off the couch and do something with themselves,” explained Bowler.
Actor Yuri Lowenthal voiced the dead father. He recently voiced Peter Parker in the PS4 Spider-Man game. When he read the script, according to Bowler, he was shocked and amused that somehow Bowler had gotten this script approved by WB Games.
Not many people remember this game. Even fewer players have ever actually seen the ending of Game Party Champions. One of the rare players who did manage to reach the end also recorded it and their reaction to the ending.
“I’m so sad. What about Jace?”
He left. He’s gone.
But we will always have the skee ball trophy to remember him by.
Minecraft is celebrating its 10th anniversary since it was first released, back in 2009. To pay tribute to this milestone, Mojang teamed up with Blockworks to create a massive map covering the entire history of the popular game. And for those who dig deep, you might find a few secrets and Easter Eggs.
When I first spawned into the map I was greeted with a nice little entrance and a minecart ride. However, this ride is actually a wonderful ride through the history of Minecraft’s major updates. It feels like a dark ride from a place like Disneyland and features on-screen text to help tell you when an update was released and what it was called.
Once I finished that minecart ride down memory lane, I found myself surrounded by immense structures. This is the real meat of the map. It is huge. Each area is dedicated to different parts of Minecraft.
For example, you can find a large museum showcasing every block currently in the game and each one has a small piece of text you read. These provide background and history about the block, while also teaching players tricks and tips on how to use them.
Another section of the map contains every enemy and animal in the game but made larger. A few of these creatures are fairly new and I didn’t know what they were. Luckily, like the block museum, each creature and enemy has text that players can read to learn more.
There’s even a section of the map dedicated to the educational spin-off version of Minecraft. Like Epcot at Disneyworld, I basically ran through this and barely looked. But neat that it’s there.
Dotted around the entire map are huge structures, biome-domes, temples, paintings, statues and more. You could easily spend over a few hours in this map and not see or find everything.
The map also contains some puzzles and secrets. A player reported on the Minecraft subreddit that they had even found a book referencing the creepy meme character, Herobrine. Mojang teases in a blog post announcing the map that it contains multiple easter eggs. I haven’t found any, but other players are already digging into finding all the secrets this map contains.
If you are a huge fan of Minecraft you’ve probably already played this, but if you haven’t it’s worth checking out. Even if you only played a bit of the game a few years back, this map is so well made and chock full of information, I think most players will get a kick out of exploring it.
The map is available for free right now on all Bedrock versions of the game, which includes Xbox One, Switch, PC and mobile devices. It is also avaiable for the original Java version and Realms. Some players on Switch are reporting performance issues in some of the more complex areas of the map, so just a heads up.
Grand Theft Auto III has some interesting features and code hidden within the game. These hidden features were originally used by developers to debug and fix glitches during development and should have been removed. Crafty GTA fans and modders have been able to not only find these hidden features in retail copies but reactivate them and get many of them working again. The results of their efforts give us a window into how Rockstar builds its massive open worlds.
A video released earlier this week by popular GTA YouTuber Vadim M showcases a large number of debugging features that are still hidden inside GTA III. Many of these features were recently found and restored by GTA modders and data miners Fire Head and AAP. While these features are in the retail versions of the game, not all of them work as intended because the code is much older than the final game.
Many debug features in Grand Theft Auto III were created to work on PS2 dev kits. A second controller could be plugged in that would let the developers change the game in real time. This functionality was restored in the PC version of the game, though Vadim M told me he believes it could be activated on the PS2 version of the game if you used a modded copy.
With the second controller, you can instantly change the weather or time of day or remove the HUD. You can also activate a free camera, which lets you fly around the world and look closely at objects, buildings, and roads. This free camera also allowed developers to instantly teleport the game’s protagonist, Claude, to its location, which could potentially be used to skip long drives during testing. The second controller also activates the ability to play the game one frame at a time.
GTA III hackers such as Fire Head have also found debug scripts in the mobile port of the game, but not in the PS2 or Xbox versions. Using some custom code, AAP, Vadim M and Fire Head were able to get port these scripts back into other versions of the game. These scripts include the ability to despawn and respawn all vehicles, start any mission, turn on god mode, recolor any car and access developer menus.
Reactivating these hidden menus allowed Vadim M to access a model viewer, which let developers examine any of the in-game models or characters and watch their animations closely.
These scripts and hidden menus also include a bunch of tools revolving around GTA III’s pedestrians. There’s the ability to activate a color-coded overlay on the road and ground, with different colors representing different rules. One area might be where pedestrians cross the street, so a section is marked with a specific color that means NPC can cross in that specific zone. Other areas are marked to keep pedestrians from entering, such as highways.
The entire video is worth watching as it goes into more detail about many of these features and other debug options, as well as how they all worked and what Rockstar might have used them for during development.
These debug features offer us a glimpse into how a game like GTA III is made. Rockstar is a notoriously secretive company and rarely lets players see beneath the hood. But thanks to some clever and dedicated fans, players can get a better understanding of some of the game’s tools.