Large open-world games like Elden Ring and Horizon: Forbidden West have plenty of open space for adventures, side quests, and plot-related tidbits that expand the game’s world and lore for a truly immersive experience. Some games, however, don’t just hide quests and treasures across the land, but also Easter eggs for players to find.
Elden Ring, for example, hides a reference to the famous manga Berserk in its world. These secrets aren’t exclusive to open-world games, though. Developers have been hiding Easter eggs in their worlds for years. Players on Ranker have come together to count down their favorites.
Note: Ranker lists are live and continue to accrue votes, so some rankings may have changed after this publishing.
10 Secret Characters – NBA Jam
Midway was no stranger to putting Easter eggs in their games. NBA Jam was perhaps the most famous for this. In addition to its large roster of real NBA Legends, it was tradition for it to include bizarre secret characters. This tradition was maintained into its most recent 2010 entry, which featured then president Barack Obama as a secret character.
Barack wasn’t the first president to appear in NBA Jam, though, The original’s console ports featured Bill Clinton as an unlockable character. The First Lady and VP joined him. Other secret characters included programmers and executives, but these proved not as popular.
9 Jason Voorhees – Dead Island
Jason Voorhees is an icon of the scariest slasher movies, so it’s easy to imagine him surviving the zombie apocalypse. Players of Dead Island can find a human survivor with his name wearing a hockey mask. Of course, Jason isn’t a friendly survivor. He’ll immediately attack any players who come near with his machete.
This Friday the 13th cameo isn’t licensed, but it still features many little references to the movies. Of course, Jason is found not too far from a campground, and the hut Jason is encountered in features a small shrine, like the one from the films. It might be hard to appreciate these details though, as Jason is one of the game’s toughest enemies.
8 Jar Jar Binks – Star Wars: The Force Unleashed
Jar Jar Binks appears in a lot of Star Wars memes for all the wrong reasons. The Episode 1 character was loathed throughout the noughties and still faces criticism today. Fans and Lucasfilm staff alike couldn’t resist seeing the character in misery so the developers of the difficult Star Wars: The Force Unleashed put Jar Jar in the Kashyyyk level in a hilarious and oh-so-satisfying Easter egg.
It was so good that it wouldn’t be the last time Jar Jar froze. His carbonite mold could be found in Disney Infinity as well. Eventually, an exclusive action figure of Jar Jar frozen in carbonite was also released.
7 Reptile – Mortal Kombat
Fighting games are notorious for having secrets in the 90s. Special moves were often not obviously taught to players, and secret characters had notoriously difficult unlock conditions. This trend was started with Mortal Kombat 1’s Reptile, a green recolor of Scorpion, where Reptiles’ fight could only be accessed by some truly diabolical means.
Reptile appears in arcade mode with cryptic hints like “blocking will get you nowhere.” Players must get a double flawless victory on the pit stage without blocking. The fight must end in a fatality while a shadow is over the moon and then players could fight Reptile. Future games would make Reptile a standard character, and the complex unlock method has never returned.
6 Indiana Jones – LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga
The works of Lucasfilm are so tied together that even their spin-offs reference each other. LEGO Star Wars has always featured plenty of LEGO versions of obscure Star Wars characters, but The Complete Saga introduced a crossover element to the games. In it, Indiana Jones could be unlocked as a playable character. Despite being from a less advanced setting, he was one of the best characters in the game.
Hilariously, Indy can only be accessed after watching the trailer for his upcoming game in an options menu. After this, he will become available to purchase in the store. His pistol shoots bullets and he also has a unique whip weapon. The latest game, LEGO Star Wars The Skywalker Saga, features tons of references to Indy as well.
5 Liberty City Heart – Grand Theft Auto IV
Liberty City is the beating heart of Grand Theft Auto IV. The city’s lively culture and abundance of side content make it an endearing element of a fantastic game. Liberty City itself also has a beating heart, literally. It’s found in the Statue of Happiness, a pastiche of the Statue of Liberty.
The heart can be found through a door that is labeled “no hidden content this way.” If players walk through this non-solid door, they’ll find a beating heart held up by chains. It’s completely inexplicable, other than being a pun on ”the heart of the city.” In the DLC, players can wake up next to the heart after becoming drunk, raising further questions.
4 Chris Houlihan – The Legend Of Zelda: A Link To The Past
Usually Easter eggs are a fun reward for exploring in a unique way in a video game. In the case of Chris Houlihan, it literally was a reward. In A Link to the Past, Link can find a sign that says “My name is Chris Houlihan. This is my secret room. Keep it between us, okay?” when depositing him into a room full of money.
Not only is this Easter egg a reward for people who find the secret room, but it may have been a reward for a fan too. Nintendo Power held a contest in 1990 for a fan to get their name put in an NES game. There is some discrepancy, though. A Link to the Past is on SNES and the contest winner was never revealed, meaning that there is no way to for sure if Chris Houlihan won.
3 Psycho Mantis – Metal Gear Solid
Hideo Kojma games are somewhat famous for their hidden secrets and details. One of the original fan favorite Easter eggs can be found in the original Metal Gear Solid. The psychic mercenary Psycho Mantis is a powerful psychic foe. He uses his psychic abilities to actually read the player’s memory card.
Psycho Mantis will make reference to other games that have been played on the console. This includes six different games by Konami. The GameCube remake includes four Nintendo first-party games, as development was handled by then Nintendo second-party Silicon Knights. It’s a somewhat unsettling feeling to hear a game character know your catalog.
2 Atari Games – Call of Duty: Black Ops II
Sometimes Easter eggs are so cool that it starts a recurring trend, like with the Atari games in Call of Duty. In Black Ops II’s Nuketown stage, players who head-shot all the mannequins as quickly as possible will find a secret. The television will display Activision’s logo and the player can play some classic Atari games. These games are Pitfall II, HERO, Kaboom!, and River Raid.
This is a pretty fun Easter egg and makes a lot of sense. Bonus inclusion of these games makes a lot of sense as proper re-release of these small games is unlikely. Future Call of Duty games would include more and more Atari games. In Call of Duty: Cold War, nineteen games are available.
1 Super Mario Portraits – The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time
The Legend of Zelda and Super Mario have always been linked. They share the same creator in the legendary designer Shigeru Miyamoto, after all. Both series have always hidden references to each other in their games and Ocarina of Time features a fun Mario easy-to-miss Easter egg.
Players are only in the courtyard for a short time and likely won’t look around. If they do, they’ll see that Hyrule Castle has portraits of characters from Mario 64 and Mario Kart in their halls. These paintings can only be seen through a window, making them more subtle than the game’s other Mario references. Unfortunately, these paintings were removed in the 3DS version.
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