What Did I Just See? Ranking My Favorite Easter Eggs

0
Posted May 26, 2016 by John Newby in Video Games

Easter Egg (noun): A hidden video game feature or surprise.

Let’s face it, video games are great and all, but half the fun of playing is trying to find hidden references and inside jokes. Fallout 4 had a reference to Blade Runner; GTA III had a character from Driver. The list goes on and on. Developers spend so much time making video games, pouring their hearts and souls into the process, that it only makes sense that they would find a psychological release via hidden jokes.

Uncharted 4 is the latest and greatest example as basically the entire game is just one big Easter Egg. Some items reference earlier adventures while others reference movies and random video games. Playing through this fantastic game made me start thinking about some of my favorite hidden jokes in recent games, and Naughty Dog’s latest release just means that it’s a perfect time to create a list of these Easter Eggs.

Just so you know this list is far from conclusive. I could have included some of the most famous Easter Eggs like the beating heart in GTA IV or John Romero’s head in Doom, but I wanted to focus on some of the ones that filled me with childlike delight. Enough time has passed that it’s only fair to include some of the best from Uncharted 4. Don’t worry, I didn’t spoil any big story moments…I think.

Hitman – Mini Ninjas Catering Truck

HITMAN™_20160312074803

IO-Interactive, makers of Hitman, have quite possibly the most entertaining Twitter biography. “Welcome to IO-Interactive on Twitter! We make games about people killing other people. And cute ninjas. We’re complicated but lovable.” People tend to forget that IO made the super cute Mini Ninjas about Hiro, a ninja with the ability to turn into animals using his spirit powers. It’s an adorable game that didn’t spawn a true sequel beyond a Kinect exclusive and an endless runner on iOS (which is pretty solid).

I have been pining for a true Mini Ninjas sequel for the past few years, but I didn’t think it was a possibility. However, IO- Interactive gave me a glimmer of hope when the first episode of Hitman appeared on my console. This mission took Agent 47 to a fashion show in Paris, full of uppity designers and loads of booze. The fashion show was an entertaining place to explore, and further examination led to discovering mysterious catering vans emblazoned with the Mini Ninjas logo.

Now, I don’t know for certain that this catering van is a hint to future ninja adventures, but I can dream. Who knows, maybe Hiro and his friends just needed to pick up some part time work after defeating the villainous Samurai Warlord. Life’s tough on the streets for a ninja.

Uncharted 4 – Crash Bandicoot

Uncharted-4-3

Ok, so there is a debate currently raging about whether or not something can be considered an Easter Egg if it’s an unavoidable part of the story. Well, I am willing to make an exception for something quite as awesome as Uncharted 4. Nathan Drake’s latest and final story is an exceptional example of storytelling, complete with nods to earlier games. Naughty Dog’s flagship game may be full of action and intense sequences, but some of the best moments are also the quietest. The best moment, hands down, happens early in the game as Drake is attempting to live a normal life. During a very familiar “argument” with Elena about dishes, Drake decides to challenge her to a high score battle on her “game thing”. Turns out, the game thing is a PlayStation One with Crash Bandicoot.

To be honest, I had no expectations when this scene kicked off, but the second Crash Bandicoot loaded, I just dropped the controller. I mean, how cool is it that Naughty Dog included a game that the team originally developed? Not only was this moment just beautiful, but it also served as a harsh reminder that Crash Bandicoot was a pretty freaking hard game.

Uncharted 4 – Turner Pirate Gravestone

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End™_20160525223014

Uncharted 4 has a globe-trotting, pirate-centric story that continually entertains. The pirates are such a main focus that entire sections revolve around discovering the members of a secret buccaneer group. Ironically enough, Drake’s quest takes him to a cemetery full of dead pirates, complete with eroding gravestones. Further examination of this cemetery leads to one specific grave with the name “Turner” on the headstone. This may seem like a coincidence, but research hasn’t revealed any pirate in history with the name of Turner. My only assumption is that Naughty Dog wanted to throw in a nice little reference to Will Turner from Pirates of the Caribbean. Orlando Bloom’s sword maker turned pirate isn’t the coolest character in cinematic history, but that first movie is still iconic enough to warrant an appearance from a famous character.

Far Cry 3 – Head Buried in the Sand

FarCry3

Far Cry 3 was one of the best games of last generation, taking some of the better aspects of Far Cry 2, removing the dumb malaria bits, and kicking up the fun factor by 150%. Plus, there were countless animals to murder, skin, and turn into useful items like…wallets. Of course, this Far Cry was something special simply because Vaas was a special kind of demented. This villain was crazy and delighted in torturing random people, as evidenced by Far Cry 3’s cover art.

The front cover of Far Cry 3 showed Vaas sitting next to someone buried in the sand. It was difficult to make out who the character was seeing how only his nose and eyes were visible above the sand, but it was a striking image. Interestingly enough, this scene wasn’t used only for the cover art. If you explored the islands enough, you came across a lonely section of beach with some poor soul buried in the sand. Unfortunately, I was a little too late to save this random fella.

I don’t know whether this Easter Egg was more disturbing or humorous, but I’m very happy that it was in the game.

Borderlands 2 – Minecraft Area

Borderlands2Minecraft

I gotta be honest, I don’t particularly enjoy Minecraft. I understand the appeal, but I don’t have much fun playing the game. Luckily, Gearbox Software found a way around that dilemma with Borderlands 2. The game known for all manner of random hidden references and inside jokes included a special area of Caustic Caverns with a boxy appearance.

In a world of creepy bugs and monsters, Gearbox threw a bunch of Creepers behind some train tracks and rock walls. Breaking through and killing these enemies resulted in special heads and skins for your characters to don. Running around and destroying bad guys while dressed as Minecraft’s creepers may not have made me enjoy the source material anymore, but at least it provided some violent entertainment.

The Saboteur – Indiana Jones Reference to Major Toht

Did you really think that I could write an article about video games without including The Saboteur? As my fellow writers know, I have an unhealthy obsession with Pandemic’s final game, to the point where I ranked it very high on my all-time list and included it on a list about bovine murder. I just dig the story, despite its shallowness, and wish that Pandemic had made the sequel teased during the final mission.

One moment that makes me love The Saboteur even more happens during a very Indiana Jones-esque mission. While searching for a box that may or may not be the Ark of the Covenant, you come across a Nazi-occupied cemetery. Now, this cemetery is a wide open area with multiple paths to the objective, but taking a very specific path brings you to some soldiers discussing a certain Major Toht that is headed to Nepal for some powerful staff. Sure, this reference may have been a little on the nose, but I didn’t care because it fit so perfectly with the level’s theme and the game in general.

Driver: San Francisco – Level from Driver 1

Like The Saboteur, Driver: San Francisco is one of my favorite games of the last generation. This Ubisoft Reflections-developed driving game came out to little fanfare, but it was pretty interesting because of the weird, coma-related super powers. If you don’t know, John Tanner from Driver had the ability to jump from car to car using his mind. Sure, this gameplay mechanic was probably only included so Reflections didn’t have to model running around, but that doesn’t matter to me. Switching from car to car, especially during chases, was great because I could simply take over random cars and slam them into opponents before jumping back to my ride.

Given Driver: San Francisco’s slightly goofy nature, it only makes sense that Reflections would include something cool for the fans. There were multiple challenge levels loosely based on driving movies, but none compared to one known as “Blast from the Past”. This challenge was actually a recreation of the tutorial from the first Driver, and it was a reminder of how that first game was actually pretty difficult.

Of course, this level only qualifies as an Easter Egg because of how it’s unlocked. The only way to access Blast from the Past is to buy the Delorean and drive it over 88 mph. Simple enough to unlock, but many people never discovered this secret. The Delorean was one of the slowest cars in the game, and it didn’t handle particularly well. Who in their right mind would willingly cruise around San Francisco in this car when there are so many super cars to abuse?

Wolfenstein: The New Order – Original Game Level (Nominated by Bryan Boshart)

WolfensteinNewOrder

Wolfenstein 3D was one of the first shooters I ever played, and it completely created a love for that classic run-and-gun formula. Wolfenstein: The New Order was a phenomenal return to that style of shooter, but it was missing some certain details like chicken legs sitting on the floor. Luckily, MachineGames included a bed in the hub base with some magical properties. If you slept in this bed, you were transported to a level from Wolfenstein 3D. You were free to roam around and kill Nazi soldiers while discovering hidden rooms and eating floor chicken.

This secret little level was a fun reminder of how much video games have evolved in the past decade or so, and it was pretty laughable seeing the old graphics mixed with a very detailed arm and gun.

World of Warcraft – Me Grimlok, King! (Nominated by Chad Waller)

WOWGrimlok

To be perfectly honest, I have never actually played World of Warcraft. However, fellow We The Nerdy writer Chad Waller—no relation to Amanda–was so convincing with his nomination that I couldn’t help but include it. Without further ado, here is the brief description given by Waller.

He’s a level 40 boss from Uldaman, so an old dungeon. Proper spelling is Grimlok. He shouts, “Me Grimlok, KING!” which is what the Dinobot would say from the old Transformers movie”.

Without knowing much else beyond that information, I do have to agree that it’s a pretty great reference. Transformers was a fun movie, and any reference to it is cool in my book.

Arkham Asylum – Map of Arkham City  

Batman: Arkham Asylum was one of the most groundbreaking games when it hit consoles back in 2009. The combat was smooth and violent, the world was absolutely gorgeous, and the story was downright impressive. Even better was the fact that Rocksteady packed the entire game full of random secrets for dedicated players to find. The best of these had to be a set of plans with deeper meaning than expected. Hidden deep within Arkham was a blueprint showing the planned renovation of Gotham that would create the super prison known as Arkham City. This prison would become the focal point of Batman’s second adventure and a wide-open area to explore.

ArkhamAsylumMap

Arkham Asylum has to be considered one of the best Easter Eggs of all time. Most developers include random jokes and references within their games, but Rocksteady actually revealed the second game in the series. That’s taking Easter Eggs to the next level, and most companies would be in deep trouble for similar actions.

 

So there you have it. Those are my favorite Easter Eggs in recent games. Now, I want to hear yours. Let me know in the comments.

 

 

 

 


About the Author

John Newby

A random dude obsessed with coffee, blue heelers, and most nerdy things. Big fan of Star Wars, Borderlands, Arrow/Flash, and a whole lotta video games. The Saboteur is underrated, and Silverado is the best movie ever made.