Wednesday, 20 March 2013

The Geekiest Easter Eggs

Isn't it strange that we rarely happen upon video game Easter eggs? Chocolate eggs, that is. I'd happily eat a video game branded egg - think of the marketing possibilities! You could have a Chocobo Egg, a Yoshi Egg or even an Elder Scrolls inspired Dragon Egg!

A quick search left me disappointed at the lack of video game branded eggs with an intense craving for chocolate...
This one doesn't count... it's tiny.

Eggs of the non chocolate variety however, are plentiful in the world of video games and here are some of the geekiest Easter eggs I've come across or heard about.

One of my favourite geeky references is a nod to Star Trek in the form of a pass code found in Fallout 3. If you head to the Nuka Cola Factory, you should come across the shipping foreman, his name is Milo. If you ask him about the manifest he will give you the code to the shipping computer; nc-c1864.

Recognise it?!

For any non-Trekkies let me explain, NCC-1864 is the number of the USS Reliant ship in Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan. But there's more...If you look at the timeline, the Reliant was built around the year 2277 which is also the year that Fallout 3 is set!

Another awesomely geeky Easter egg found in Fallout 3 is one for the film buffs to appreciate. The side quest 'Those!' is a direct reference to the cult B-movie film, Them! about giant fire breathing ants created accidentally after atomic bomb testing.

If you enjoy cross referencing in your games then give 2K's first BioShock game a play through. One of the objectives requires the gathering of bee enzymes as well as some other items. Once you've obtained the bee enzymes - or put crudely, the bee spit - you'll need to search for some water. Luckily there's a winery connected via an access path from the beehive room - how convenient! You will enter a room and in the far corner (on the left) there's a block of cheese on the floor (clearly Rapture's food hygiene standards have dropped since everyone got addicted to EVE!). However, this isn't just any block of cheese;

Waka, waka, waka... 
Yes, complete with bullet hole "dots", it's everyones favourite arcade game character, Pac-Man!

Comic creators love dropping subtle hints and including obscure references for their fans and comic book films often do the same. So it's no surprise that Rocksteady's Arkham Asylum would have a few nods to the Nolan-verse Batman. This little egg is less hidden and elusive than some of the others I've mentioned and I know a lot of people will disagree on whether this is an Easter egg at all - but screw those guys, I thought this was cool!

When you get to Arkham Mansion, one of the interview tapes opens up the bio for Scarecrow, listen carefully and you'll hear some of the Asylum staff panicking under the influence of fear gas. The names of the two doctors we hear freaking out are Dr. Murphy and Dr. Combs - a reference to Cillian Murphy who not only happens to be one of my favourite actors *swoon* but who also plays Scarecrow/Dr. Jonathan Crane in the Nolan-verse.

He's so beautiful... Dr Crane can test on me anytime!
Dr. Combs is a nod to Jeffrey Combs who voiced Scarecrow and Dr. Crane in the 2003 game Batman: Rise of Sin Tzu as well providing other voices in an extensive list of Bats projects including Batman: The Brave And The Bold. Whether or not you agree on the validity of this "Easter egg" you'd be hard pressed to find a fan of the Dark Knight franchise who wouldn't be a tiny bit animated upon discovering it! As we all know, in geek culture there is nothing more exciting than seeing/reading/watching the things we love cross-referencing. Well, that and making lists, working out algorithms to determine which character we'd be and knowing slightly more than our peers about whatever it is we're passionate about.

One of those things I'm passionate about is Portal, I love the game and relish anything related to it. In Alice: Madness Returns, there are several Easter eggs, many of which are related to the games developer Spicy Horse, however the team at Spicy Horse obviously have fantastic taste in games as one of the floating platforms in the Queensland chapter - you know the creepy level where everything looks all...fleshy? Well, one of the platforms in the castle looks suspiciously like a Weighted Companion Cube! A mere coincidence? Or well hidden Easter egg? Either way, a Companion Cube managed to escape Aperture Science and that makes me smile. Yay!

Some games revel in the humour of rewarding you with literal Easter eggs. In the Grand Theft Auto series it's become a running joke to find a chocolate egg in-game. The worst part is, in order to find these hallowed eggs you often have to go to extreme lengths for what is ultimately very little reward. Especially given that usually it's just a picture of an egg or worse still, in San Andreas there isn't even an egg just this rather amusing note:

There are no Easter Eggs up here. Go Away.

In Vice City however, the developers left us a chocolate egg on a plinth highlighting the literal pedestal the fans have placed this running joke on.

The egg reads: Happy Easter...

Maybe in GTA V we'll find a hidden code which we can give to chocolatier in return for a real chocolate egg?! *Hint, hint Rockstar!*

Wishful thinking aside, perhaps the most enviable gaming Easter egg of all time is the one dedicated to Zelda fan, Chris Houlihan. Before the release of A Link To The Past, the magazine Nintendo Power ran a competition in which the prize was the chance to own a room in the game.

However, it's rather difficult to get into his room. There is much debate over how to gain access to it (I've tried and failed!) however each method relies on having the Pegasus boots and gaining the correct amount of speed. Upon doing so you will be launched into Chris's room. Get the incorrect speed and well, you'll find yourself in another room\- just not the elusive Houlihan room. It's like being rejected entry into a super exclusive club because you're not cool enough (story of my life!).

Those with the blind luck to gauge the right speed will find themselves in a pretty standard room, in it are 45 blue rupees and a sign that reads:

My name is Chris Houlihan. This is my top secret room. Keep it between us, OK?

I am not jealous. I am not jealous. I am...who am I kidding? I am incredibly jealous of Chris - I know nothing about him except his namesake lives on forever in A Link To The Past. Damn you Houlihan! Damn youuuuu!

It's understandable why developers like to include homages, references and in-jokes in their work. I imagine it's a long, laborious process full of complicated codes and technological crap I literally have no idea about so adding the occasional Easter egg is a nice break from all that hard work and adds their individual touch to a game. I love it when developers plant jokes and references that entertain and it's especially exciting if you manage to come across one organically without being told about it.

After all, it's much cooler to find them yourself and you get to feel like you're included in that special secret club reserved for so few! But if you're intrigued or can't be bothered to search there are hundreds of websites dedicated to hunting eggs, lots of YouTube videos to guide you directly to them and walk-throughs aplenty.

With Easter fast approaching I hope you find more than chocolate eggs! And if any of you actually acquire a chocolate video game egg then please send me a picture of it...or you could just...well, send the egg to me? You know, for research...

Happy Easter egg hunting!

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