I have to say it was the special random encounter in Fallout 2 when I “met” the Unwashed Villagers who were beating on a troll.
The sad fate of Commander Keen, which was in Duke Nukem IIRC
Fallout 2 had the best easter eggs. My favorite was the Cafe of Broken Dreams, where you meet characters from the previous game. One guy you can talk to is the stock black guy NPC who’s wearing a vault suit. He says: “Hi, I was originally supposed to be the Male Hero Avatar in Fallout. They said I was cut because I would take too many frames of animation, too much artwork. I’m BLACK, you figure it out.”
Also, if you visit the priest in New Reno after beating the game, he’ll give you the Fallout 2 Strategy Guide. When you examine it in your inventory the text window says: “It sure would have been nice to have this BEFORE you beat the goddamn game.”
There’s just not much point in mentioning much beyond Fallout 2. The Cafe of Broken Dreams was simply inspired.
Plus, it let you return to the wastelands with an undead Dogmeat from beyond the grave. Tangent: Dogmeat should have been more central to Fallout’s design, dagnabbit. If nothing else, they could have built in scripting that he would instantly turn on that one companion whose greatest joy in life was accidentally hitting you with a full auto burst from his smg and drag him around whilst shaking him like a rag doll. That would have made the game even better.
I also have to give some recognition to Diablo 2’s Secret Cow Level, simply for the first-time amusement value.
The Dallas Cowboys’ Cheerleaders in Ultima VII: Part 2.
Okay, maybe not my favorite, my the most memorable, at least.
Hmmm, so many good ones, just to mention a few:
-The developer’s rooms in Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross. Terribly inspired and cool, there was just a billion different cool things in these. My favorites were the automatic dialectic generators and the guy who fakes you out by making it look he reset the game – gaming’s first insanity effect way before Eternal Darkness!
-The entire huge extra episode and epilogue added to Dragon Quest III, with Shinryu and the wishes, probably the largest, coolest, most downright hardcore easter egg I’ve ever run across. Such a great challenge and basically provided infinite replayability for the game.
-Final Fantasy VIII, when you have to liberate Galbardia Guarden, if you run across their stadium, you can get attacked by hockey players in a hysterical enemy encounter.
-Symphony of the Night has a trillion and one good ones, though they are mostly very subtle. Let’s see: how you begin the game by retracing Richter’s steps from the end of Rondo of Blood on the last level to the last boss fight; the monastery where ghost parishoners will sometimes come up and implore you if you sit in the chair, with every odd one trying to skewer with a supernatural knife; how when you walk into that one place, its a gussied-up, 32-bit replica of the 8-bit town Trevor Belmont got kicked out of in Castlevania III when he freed Alucard from the castle after Lisa had been crucified; the 8-bit models of Trevor, Sypha and Grant you can fight in the Coliseum right around the same place where Trevor’s offspring Richter, challenges you; the telescope you can look through that sometimes shows the boatman crossing the underground river, the same one featured in Simon’s Quest; the item with the same description as what would be displayed when it turned from day to night in Castlevania II and on and on. Hell, if you’re feeling liberal about the use of the word easter egg, and the entire upside down castle has to qualify as one of the best ever.
-How you could play the original Maniac Mansion in Day of the Tentacle.
-In Metal Slug 3, when you find the secret path where the monkey in a diaper comes out and starts to fight alongside you. Classic.
-So many to speak of in Samurai Shodown 2, but perhaps the most memorable was getting the referee to jump out of the background and actually fight againt you!
-When you type “xyzzy” in too many text adventures to count. Has to be one of the most wonderful running jokes ever.
-The erm…peculiar…gender changes in SvC Chaos. ;)
-That one shmup, I’ve forgotten which one, but one stage has a stage from an earlier game getting sucked into the background of a blackhole if I remember correctly. That rocked.
-In Super Mario World, if you get past both the Star World and the Secret World, and then open every exit and win the game, the world turns to autumn and some of the enemies change into, umm, those interesting forms.
-The shops in the main island of the Land of Green Isles in King’s Quest VI, if you examine them, you can see many references to earlier predicaments and situations all over the last five games. Ah, memories.
-The secret black hole level in Star Fox, where you can escape to other levels and if you open up the right portal leads to the extremely weird other world, where you fight a gigantic slot machine while “When the Saints Come Marching In…” plays. Just about the most surreal thing I’ve ever seen in a game.
Lots more, but I think I’ll stop there.
Ah, Kitsune beat me to the Starfox one! I actually played that game last night with the sole purpose of reaching that secret area. :) Definitely surreal.
The ability to turn your opponents into chickens in Heretic.
It’s not been a ‘hidden’ easter egg, but featuring Maniac Mansion in Day of the Tenacle was a great idea.
The “Space Quest” advertisement in the hole in the rock in King’s Quest 2.
I don’t remember the level but there was a ledge in Duke Nukem 3d that was seemingly impossible to get to…even with the jetpack thingy. Anyway, I was bored and tried for quite awhile. I finally made it and there was a texture on the wall in this tiny cave that said ‘How the Hell did you get here!?’
Dunno if this qualifies, but i love it when you keep trying to pick something up in Sam n’ Max…
Sam: I can’t pick that up.
Sam: No really, I can’t pick that up.
Sam: Are you dense? I can’t pick that up!
Sam: Read my lips: I - Can’t - Pick - That - UP!
Sam: I give up. whimpers
Max: Now you’ve done it, you’ve crushed Sam’s spirit with your stupid attempts to pick up that stupid object. In fact, if I didn’t find his pitiful sobbing so amusing, I’d probably come out there and rip your limbs off.
Sam: gasps whimpers
Max: Just ignore them Sam, maybe they’ll go away.
My favorite is the one I put in MDK2 that no one ever found.
Save Our Fans in Serious Sam was pretty good, because it had erik and Levelord in it.
That and all of them from Fallout 2.
Jeez, I could go on forever. For some reason I’m a sucker for easter eggs…
Anachronox pays homage to quite a few things. One early instance I can remember is the fighting trainer yelling at one of his students just like Mickey in the original Rocky movie. Also, after the latest patch which was made by one of the programmers on his spare time, the map of Votowne was changed at one point… you can find a person standing on top of the Inn, and if you fly up there with a cheat code the man will lament that the map designer forgot all about him after modifying the map and left him stuck on the roof. That game’s got the strangest sense of humor sometimes. Also, if you cheat and look through the items you can give to your party, one of them is called the Bracers Of IDDQD, which predictably enough make the wearer invincible.
Speaking of IDDQD, id Software is great when it comes to easter eggs:
I remember reading a comment from one of DOOM’s developers that the invincibility code is a reference to their inside joke of “Delta-Quit-Delta”, the fake fraternity they formed. You can only join by quitting college, which I guess all of id’s employees at the time had done.
The final boss of Doom 2 - the gibberish it’s saying is actually a message from John Romero when played backwards. You can find John’s head on a stick if you cheat to go behind the boss’s head.
In Heretic, the sorcerers’ death sound is “I’ve got no attorney!” when played backwards.
Wolfenstein 3-D’s secret Pacman level. Totally brilliant.
Quake 2 has a bunch. One is this great secret location in the final level - first you find a bizarre hallway that serves as the Credits for the game. At the end, one of the Strogg robots will be lounging near a pool with two of the female Stroggs fawning over him, while really crappy dance music plays in the background. There’s another place where you can find John Carmack’s head in a jar, near the warpgate you can do a rocketjump and the game will acknowledge it (wasn’t rocket-jumping a totally unintentional phenomenon in Quake 1?).
Quake 3’s bot conversation scripts are set up to give you special responses if you use any of the programmer names with the chat command - something along the lines of “You dare invoke the name of the arena masters?!”
The joke endings for the Silent Hill games are pretty good. SH3 in particular has an absolutely hysterical one, so it’s definitely worth replaying the game to unlock it. Plus there are lots of little details that pay homage to various things, such as - every street name is taken from the name of a real-life author (Bradbury St., Bachman Ave., and so on). There’s references to other things, from Sonic Youth to the movie “Carrie” - tons of stuff.
The Serious Sam games have almost too many to mention, from the hilarious reference to Croteam’s interview on Old Man Murray, to the Duke Nukem Forever insults. And you can find a secret scroll that, when analyzed, turns out to be a review or ad or something from the future for Serious Sam 15, which apparently sold 300 million copies!
Speaking of OMM, Marvin makes special appearances in Quake 3 and Heavy Metal:FAKK 2. Why he isn’t in every game ever made, I have no idea.
Sierra did make clever use of viral marketing in their older games. Off the top of my head I remember:
- Leisure Suit Larry 2. You will eventually run into Rosella from the King’s Quest games. She’ll give you one of your many haircuts.
- Leisure Suit Larry 3. Near the end you’ll stumble upon the “set” of Space Quest 2.
On top of that, more traditional easter eggs abound in these games:
- Quest For Glory 1. The obivous Three Stooges reference with the bandits in one screen
- Quest For Glory 2. After you defeat the griffin, it will try to fly away, but in the distance you will see it briefly form a silhouette of the Batman symbol before it crashes dead to the ground. You will run into the Marx brothers in various locations. Throw a dagger at the woman-turned-into-a-tree and it’ll bounc off and cause a “crack” in your monitor. The X-Ray glasses you buy at the magic store actually work in one location.
- Quest For Glory 3. Let yourself starve while wandering the wilderness, and you’ll find salvation in the form of a walking waffle. You can lightly toast it with a Flame Dart spell if you wish. You can also die from drug usage if you try to use your tinderbox on the pipe three times while in Salim’s Apothecary (Salim is a hardcore stoner hippie type). If you do not put out your campfire in the jungle after you rest, then leaving the screen you’re in, you will set the entire wilderness on fire and die, and Smokey The Elephant will chastise you for your carelessness.
- King’s Quest 2. Once again - Batman!
- Space Quest 2. Not much of an easter egg since you always run into it, but a gratuitous homage to Alien is always welcome in my book.
Thief Gold has a fantastic “bloopers” secret level, and there’s a basketball court somewhere. I think the basketball court makes a glorious return in System Shock 2 as well. It definitely shows up in Deus Ex
No One Lives Forever - in one cutscene you’ll see a submarine. The designation # is “8675-309”. Incidentally, with the upcoming Silent Hill 4 (which is out in Japan) supposedly something funny happens if you dial this number on the telephone, but no one is spoiling it (or it isn’t true).
NHL 98 - play the game with your system clock set to Valentine’s Day, and during each faceoff the arena will play “The Blue Danube Waltz”.
Need For Speed 2. Okay, it’s only a cheat code, but it’s maybe my favorite one ever. Type “roadrage” at the main menu to activate it. Then play a race - this is most fun with traffic set to maximum. Every time you honk your horn, you’ll cause all the cars in front of you to react as if you had just slammed into them at full speed. Yes, this includes semis and buses - they’ll go FLYING. Utter chaos. You can also use another code to drive as any single object in the game, from the bland traffic cars, to the huge Tyrannosaurus Rex statue in the movie studio racecourse, to the crates of beer found in the Mexico racecourse.
Along those lines, nothing is more fun than playing GTA3/VC, and using cheats to give the pedestrians weapons, then causing them to riot. And in Vice City, you can find a “stage” that “lends credence” to the idea that the lunar landing of 1969 was staged by the government. And of course there’s Apartment 3-C.
Icewind Dale boasts a special guest appearance by JeffK.
Finally, Blood 1 (aka the best damn Build Engine game ever) has tons of pop-culture references, in grand Duke Nukem fashion. Some are obvious, such as “Here’s Johnny!” from The Shining, but I also liked the not quite so obivous ones, like “get off my train…”
In the planetarium in realMyst, if you enter my birthday and an old girlfriend’s in the star display, a playable version of Pong appears. I’ve worked Pong into every game I’ve worked on somehow, though I’m not sure if I’ll get a chance to put it in MechAssault 2.
The Warren Robinett room in Adventure!
How can you be sure?