Greatest Retro Gaming Easter Eggs, Secrets & Cheats: Part 1

Retro-Gaming-Easter-Eggs-Cheats-And-SecretsBehind each and every video game we've all grown to love over the years was once a dedicated team of artists, coders, musicians and producers. While many of these unintentionally left their mark on the gaming world with their stunning creations, others, however, resorted to unconventional methods such as Easter Eggs and hidden secrets.

Many of these often brought along hidden playable characters, secret messages, inside jokes and nods to prior works. Although we’re almost certain there will be countless undiscovered secrets out there that we’re yet to find, the last few decades have provided more than enough memorable additions (for both good and bad reasons) which we’re about to explore.

Getting Horsey in Daytona USA

As far as racing games go, we all expect there to be secret muscle cars and powerful vehicles to wipe the sorry competition with - but what happens when a member of the equine family is let loose on the racetrack? Roadkill might be your first thought, but in reality Sega’s introduction of a fully playable car-replacement horse within Daytona USA not only gave Team Hornet a trot for their money, but also countless neighs and laughter from gamers around the world.

Unleash a Hadouken in Mega Man X

At the time of Mega Man X’s release, Street Fighter II had all but dominated Nintendo’s 16-bit platform and was showing no sign of being beaten down. Capcom had it good and they knew it. But what about their other franchises? Did they need to be worried that Ryu and Ken were stealing the limelight?

Instead of bowing down to the fireballs and lightning kicks, Mega Man took the best possible cause of action to let his pixelated-siblings know that he could pack an equally as powerful punch. Deep within his first 16-bit outing, Capcom hid away a collectable capsule holding an upgrade which allowed our blue bomber to shoot out his very own hadoukens.

Play as Spider-Man in Tony Hawks Pro Skater 2

During the development of the follow up to the hugely successful Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, Neversoft were also tasked with creating an equally impressive title for Marvel’s very own Spider-Man. What became of this side-by-side development, however, is hard to ignore. The same 3D model used within our superhero’s console adventure somehow managed to swing its way over into the newest installment of our favourite skateboarding simulator.

Needless to say, Spider-Man has since become one of the few superheroes capable of pulling off a 360 Pop Shove It Nosegrab with a video game to prove it.

Play as Fresh Prince, Bill Clinton & Prince Charles in NBA Jam T.E.

It’s crystal clear that the team behind the incredible basketball arcade classic NBA Jam had a ball during development. Not only did a recently discovered prototype reveal that more risque language was originally intended for the game’s commentary, but also that Acclaim managed to sneak in a huge roster of additional secret characters.

These additions, however, were anything but easily dismissible faces, but instead iconic celebrities and political figures of the time. Whether or not Hillary Clinton, Will Smith or Frank Thomas (to name but a few) approved of their resemblances in-game or not is another matter, but until we know otherwise, nothing beats scoring a three pointer with the president’s wife.

Donkey Kong Worm Hybrid in Earthworm Jim


During the development of Earthworm Jim in 1995, Shiny Entertainment had high hopes for the title’s imminent release, in what could have possibly been the biggest release of the year. Unfortunately for the team behind our futuristic invertebrate, Earthworm Jim’s introduction to the gaming world was soon overshadowed by a hulking hairy mammal thanks to Rare’s Donkey Kong Country.

Shiny Entertainment’s frustrations were soon known, as once Earthworm Jim was re-released on the Mega CD, the developers included a unlockable replacement head for our protagonist - one which featured Donkey Kong’s noggin with an arrow stuck through it. Ouch!

Metal Gear Solid Interrogates Your Memory Card


Metal Gear Solid was a masterpiece, there is no denying that. But dotted throughout this 32-bit epic are countless oddities which further compliment Hideo Kojima’s erratic character.

One of the most notable scenes from the entire game is without a doubt the boss battle against FOXHOUND’s resident psychic, Psycho Mantis. As great as it was, this very scene soon became the reason countless copies of the game were soon returned to game shops across the country. Kojima’s attempt to mess with the player’s mind saw the game’s code blocking out the onscreen action for a few seconds, whilst also displaying lime green letters spelling out Hideo (in a similar position and tone to that of your TV’s channel names) accompanied by a high pitched sound. Understandably this lead countless gamers seeking refunds after believing their copy of the game was defective.

That, however, wasn’t even the start of it. The very same battle which required you to plug your controller into port 2 to progress had a subtle Easter Egg present before the fighting even began. As Psycho Mantis began introducing himself and his powers to the player, he also took a quick peek on the player’s memory card to look around for other Konami classics. Should he happen to find Suikoden, Azure Dreams or Castlevania save games present, he would be quick to comment on your apparent taste in games.

Nintendo GameCube’s Musical Tribute to the Famicom Disk System

With such a colourful past behind them and several long serving employees, it’s no wonder Nintendo has continued to dip into its own rich history throughout the years. They’ve been doing this for as long as we can remember, but one of their more significant nods to their roots, however, has passed us by time and time again over the years.

Upon the release of the Nintendo GameCube in 2001, gamers worldwide were being fed a musical rendition of an old 8-bit jingle without even realising it. Each and every time they navigated around the cube-driven menu system on the console’s BIOS, little did they know that they were in fact enjoying an offering from the Famicom Disk System - only at a much slower pace.

As our accompanying video shows, should you happen to speed up the Nintendo GameCube’s dreamy BIOS chimes you’ll be presented with the very same tune found on the Nintendo Famicom Disk System’s waiting screen.

The Big Daddy in Age Of Empires

Just about everyone who owned a PC in the mid-nineties loved playing Age of Empires. Nothing quite beat that satisfying feeling whilst commanding an army of primitive warriors, only to pillage your nearest enemy’s fort with Elephant Archers and angry Priests.

But when the going got tough, your lacklustre stone slingers and sword wielding troops couldn’t rely on still-to-be-invented stealth bombers swooping in to save the day. You could, however, call upon the Big Daddy to set things straight...

Simply typing “bigdaddy” into the game’s chat box, a product of a futuristic era yet to pass within our game’s world would be magically teleported to the battlefield. This unit bearing incredibly slick curves and a matt-black paint job, was a rocket launcher equipped sports car ready to wreak havoc.

Although just one of these was more than enough to induce a massacre and take over the world, you’ll be hard pressed to find a single Age of Empires player who didn’t get greedy with this time travel loophole.

Star Fox’s Arwing visits Zelda: Ocarina of Time

Hang on a minute... In the 64-bit era wasn’t Super Smash Bros the only point where our favourite Nintendo character’s worlds collided? Apparently not! It would appear Fox McCloud once took a seriously wrong turn on his travels, only to find himself circling through the treetops of Kokiri Forest.

As crazy as it sounds, Star Fox’s iconic Arwing spacecraft really is hidden deep within The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina of Time as an enemy character - one our very own Young Link can ambitiously square up to in battle.

The real truth behind this bizarre inclusion, however, appears more to be an oversight rather than an intended Easter Egg. During the early stages of development during Ocarina of Time, Nintendo imported the several movement patterns from Star Fox 64 to give to the Fire Temple’s boss, Volvagia. Until this subterranean lava dragon was sculpted into a 3D model, the Arwing was used as a placeholder asset to aid development - only it never quite got removed from the game’s code.

2 Player Duck Hunt


Although this is anything but a cheat or hidden secret, the ability to have two players sat in front of Duck Hunt has eluded just about everyone since its release in 1984.

Simply put, if you were anything like the team here at RetroCollect, game booklets were the last thing you touched upon the purchase of a brand new video game, if ever. If we actually took time away the screen and our pointless attempts to shoot the dog in Duck Hunt, you’ll find on page 8 of the game’s manual lies the simplest instructions on how to get your friends involved.

In mode Game A, the opposing player can pick up the control pad and manipulate the direction of our feather filled flyers, hopefully inflicting foul play on that neon coloured gun’s aim.

Final Fantasy VII’s Debug Room

At the time of release, Final Fantasy VII was one of the biggest videogames to date. Spanning a massive three discs and offering at least 70+ hours of gameplay, it’s no surprise that countless little secrets and Easter eggs have been dotted throughout Cloud Strife’s adventure.

The one we’re focusing in on now though, was one never intended to be found. As you’d expect from a game of this size, the developers needed some form of a hidden menu with intricate tools to help diagnose their work during development. This in turn brought around the inaccessible (without cheating) debug room - a location within the game offering various doors to different locations, events, battles and FMVs, to name but a few, all for the purpose of testing.

With countless options on offer and quick triggers to unlock just about everything in game, many have wondered why this game maker/breaker remained in Squaresoft’s timeless release. It is often assumed that the removal of this detailed portal would have created more errors than the team had time to diagnose, leaving them to make an executive decision to leave it in. While they did in turn make it impossible to access, Gameshark and Action Replay cheat cartridges have since unlocked this hidden feature along with the many secrets it holds.

Resident Evil 2’s Secret Rebecca Chambers Photograph


You know those moments where you can’t find what you’re looking for and you check the same locations over and over again? Well Resident Evil 2 immortalised this frustrating past time in videogame form, should for whatever reason you become tired of annihilating zombies.

In this instance of the “I’m sure I left it here” game, both Claire Redfield and Leon Kennedy can task themselves with going through Albert Wesker’s desk drawer a massive 50 times over. Upon opening it in succession for the last time, we’re treated to a rather disappointing private photograph the Umbrella mastermind has been keeping for himself - one of Rebecca Chambers in college sportswear. Whatever floats your boat, Wesker!

Sonic The Hedgehog Into Dreams

During the festive period, Sega decided to celebrate in style by giving away for free a two level Christmas themed version of NiGHTs Into Dreams to Saturn owners. This extended Nightopia adventure held plenty more action for fans of the series, along with countless hidden extras. For example, using the Sega Saturn’s internal clock, Christmas NiGHTs would change in-game environments to be covered in snow from November onwards, further adding presents and Christmas decorations to the scenery should it happen to be December.

The real hidden bonus, however, required a lot of effort to be enjoyed. Upon completing a single level, players would be presented with a simple tile matching puzzle prompting them to choose their presents. Once two had matched, a bonus feature was unlocked on the game’s main menu under “Christmas Presents” - a virtual advent calendar. Behind each and every one of these 24 windows was a little treat for the player, but one in particular overshadowed them all.

Upon matching two Sonic The Hedgehog tiles, gamers could then speed their way through Nightopia as the blue hedgehog himself. Despite being placed in this magical world, Sonic remained unable to glide through the air like Elliot and Claris, tasking our speed demon with collecting the blue chips on foot. Once completed, Sonic would then face up to the end of level boss sporting a rather familiar costume found on an evil genius.

What makes this more notable though is that this was Sonic The Hedgehog’s very first playable appearance in 3D.

Adventure’s Wall of Credits


The term Easter egg has often puzzled many as to why they’re often referred to as being the same as those chocolate treats we often obtain during Spring. Needless to say there is an origin and one which Wikipedia can explain for us:

According to game designer Warren Robinett, the term was coined at Atari by personnel who were alerted to the presence of a secret message which had been hidden by Robinett in his already widely distributed game, Adventure. The name has been said to evoke the idea of a traditional Easter egg hunt.

In what could be the very first Easter egg in the videogame world, the Atari 2600’s Adventure featured a hidden location holding the game’s credits. This was rather notable back then as Atari had a restriction on programmers taking credit for their own work. So the very fact that Robinett managed to sneak in a hidden room crediting himself right under Atari’s nose soon paved way for countless other programmers playing similar tricks.

Greeting the absent Yoshi in Super Mario 64

Although Mario spent his prior two adventures glued to the saddle on his favourite green dinosaur, Yoshi at first was nowhere to be seen in Super Mario 64. This glaring omission from Nintendo’s blockbuster hit, however, was only half of the issue - Luigi too for whatever reason failed to make the cut.

As much as we would have loved to have ridden around on Yoshi’s back through the likes of Bob-omb Battlefield and Dire Dire Docks, we have to be honest and remind ourselves that Super Mario 64 was incredible regardless. With countless replayability up for grabs via the 120 stars dotted throughout the game, those who got their money’s worth this 64-bit classic were further rewarded with a familiar sight.

Once completed, players soon found themselves able to use a previously hidden cannon-launch-pad on the castle’s grounds. With a careful aim to the roof, a certain prehistoric creature would be up high awaiting your presence with a message to deliver from Shigeru Miyamoto.

Getting Mousey in Aladdin

Disney steamrolled their way through the 16-bit era. With each and every corner you turned on your gaming travels, you would be sure to see a magical quest of some sort for your favourite console. Needless to say it was no surprise that the animation studio’s 1992 film - Aladdin - would also be accompanied by a videogame adaptation, one which has since become a fans favourite for all the right reasons.

The duo of Disney animators and Virgin Interactive’s coding squad produced some fantastic results including pixelated traditional animation and ingenious challenges within. Elsewhere in the game though, this development team decided to get creative.

One of the many hidden easter eggs within this game was one just about every curious Sega Mega Drive owner discovered back in the day. Lying on the clothesline situated in the desert level was a carefully placed hat bearing Mickey Mouse’s unforgettable ears. As most gamers found, our protagonist could be placed underneath these ever so carefully to give off the illusion he was wearing this said hat. If you happened to press up whilst underneath this novelty attire, you’d be gifted with an array of extra lives.

Zool’s Gamesmaster Goodie Cave


In the mid-nineties it would have be foolish to turn down any affiliation with Channel 4’s hit TV show, GamesMaster. The magazine-cum-gameshow had become a huge hit overnight for its innuendos and deliverance of gaming challenges, news, reviews and cheat codes - every gamer across the country was hooked.

Gremlin Software were well aware of this fact and soon provided the series with a custom level to be played on the air by lucky contestants. While this very level is yet to be archived and preserved online for videogame historians, there was, however, another affiliation between these two parties gamers can still access today.

Hidden deep within the first few levels lies a secret chamber containing a plethora of collectable items and extra lives. At a first glance these goodies were just jumbled throughout this cavern, but in reality each and every arrangement spelt out a certain word - Gamesmaster!

(Check out this video which shows the location of this room around the 11:00 mark.)

Mega Turrican’s Frozen in Carbonite Mario & Sonic


With a certain duo of flagship characters running riot through everyone else’s 16-bit dreams, it was about time somebody dealt with Sonic and Mario to give others a fair chance - well, maybe not Bubsy. This task was eventually handed over to the metal-clad warrior of the future, Turrican.

During the development of Mega Turrican, the artists behind the futuristic run-n-gunner decided to get creative with the game’s graphical assets. In doing so, Nintendo and Sega’s key protagonists found themselves frozen in carbonite, similar to that of Han Solo, and placed within the background elements of the first stage.

This bold statement, however, never made its way to the final stages of the game. It’s often assumed that the publishers of the game, Sony Digital Publishing, were unhappy about this infringement and would rather not face a lawsuit over the unauthorised kidnapping of a hedgehog and plumber.

Have we missed an incredible hidden secret? Do you have your own fond memories of these timeless Easter eggs? Be sure to let us know below.

Last Updated ( 21 July 2013 )  


Better known as Adam offline, Cauterize is one of RetroCollect's final bosses with an unhealthy addiction to pixels. When he's not out searching the web for the latest retro gaming news or creating content for RetroCollect, he'll will most likely be found working on his Sensible Soccer skills.

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(Link to this comment) DemonicNinja 2013-07-21 18:49
Great artice
(Link to this comment) chavaflyfree 2013-07-22 16:27
Agree. I love the easter eggs. Finding them or watching others finding them!
(Link to this comment) ian8bit 2013-07-23 19:58
Here's a list of easter eggs in Sega Master System games that I put together:

My particular favourites are Action Fighter, Assault City, Daffy Duck in Hollywood (only recently discovered) and Sonic 2.

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