It is probably the wrong time of year to be mentioning Easter eggs but the ones we’re here to discuss contain no chocolate and have nothing to do with an overly generous rabbit.
Gaming Easter eggs work on the same principal as the traditional Easter egg hunt in Western culture, rewarding someone for searching with in-jokes, hidden messages or bonus scripts. The concept of Easter eggs in media was coined by Warren Robinett in the late Seventies. Robinett was the chief designer for the Atari game Adventure released in 1979 and was a little frustrated at Atari not willing to credited him with designing and developing the game. So, Robinett allowed the player to pass through a seemingly “invisible” wall while playing, into a room displaying a flashing message reading “Created by Warren Robinett”.
As a result of Robinett’s innovative way of getting his name out there, a large number of games have followed suit with embedded “Easter eggs” in them with new and more interesting ways for gamers to find hidden items only rewarded with persistence and a keen eye. So let’s take a look at some of the games from 2011 that unlocked some hidden gems as we count down the top 10 video game Easter eggs from 2011.
10/ Inception spinning top – Duke Nukem Forever
I’ll pass on all the nasty things I have to say about Duke Nukem Forever for a minute and talk about something clever in the game for a change. It is said that if you throw enough mud at a wall, some of it will stick and it is exactly that approach that yielded this Easter egg gem for DNF. The game is absolutely loaded to the teeth with pop-culture references but one stands out for its relevance. While playing through a dream sequence (in a strip club, naturally) you can enter a room off to the side of the main corridor.On the table there is a spinning top spinning which, for those of you who have seen the film inception will know, is an indication that you are still in a dream.
9/ and 8/ Ongoing teddy bears and sand castles – Battlefield and Call of Duty series
I’m joining these two together as the two games feel like they are joined at the hip, anyway. For Battlefield 3, the developers have continued with the tradition seen in Battlefield: 1943 and Bad Company 2 and included a little sand castle with a Swedish flag on top (home to developer, DICE’s HQ). For Call of Duty, Modern Warfare 3 continued the tradition of nearly every COD game and featured teddy bears popping up in various locations. There are various rumours for their inclusion, but the one widely accepted seems to be that they are a tribute to one of the developer’s daughters who passed away.
7/ Dance Party – Crysis 2
Not very spectacular, but bloody funny and very much worthy of inclusion on this list is the elevator dance party that can be found in Crysis 2. In the “Dead man walking” mission, go to the control panel at the end of the hall and even though no interaction prompt appears press it anyway. Go to the back to the second elevator and press the button. Now get up and dance. Video
6/ The Last of Us spoiler – Uncharted 3
While this may be nothing or it could be a massive spoiler for the upcoming game The Last of Us, we just don’t know yet. The Last of Us is a survival horror game that will be coming to PS3 in 2012. From early game-play trailers and screenshots, it appears humanity has been struck with a mysterious disease which has turned people in to zombie-like creatures. The games developers, Naughty Dog, are also the minds behind the Uncharted series and in the third instalment a small glimmer of a spoiler can be seen on a newspaper resting on a bar, with the headline reading “Scientists are still struggling to understand deadly fungus”. We’ll have to wait till next year to find out.
5/ Keyboard Cat – Saints Row the Third
This is going straight in to fifth place on the list just for the jollies, really. Saints Row has always been the one to push the boundaries when it comes to wacky, off-the-wall humour just for the sake of it, and while there are a number of Easter eggs plastered around the city of Steelport (including a number of Easter bunny icons), it was the sight of “Johnny Cat” (for all intents and purposes it is the hugely popular YouTube star “Keyboard Cat”) that offered the greatest sense of achievement when stumbling upon it.
4/ Notched Pickaxe – Skyrim
I must admit trying to find an Easter egg in Skyrim is like trying to find a very small needle in a haystack the size of Texas, but thanks to tireless explorers, one has been identified. In the area of the map marked “The Throat of the World”, climb to the very top of the mountain. Up there you can see a few scattered deposits of “Iron Ore” and resting nearby is a “Notched Pickaxe”. Those of you familiar with the hugely popular indie game Minecraft will know this is a reference to both the game, and its developer Markus “Notch” Persson.
3/ Dancing Wretch – Gears of War 3
There seems to be a theme of dancing for gaming Easter eggs in 2011 as coming in at No 3 on this list is the Dancing Wretch in Gears of War 3. Mostly because of the amount of effort it takes to see the cavorting little bugger. Now I could try and write out all the steps to unlock this Easter egg but there’s about nine long-winded steps to this and I’d like to get home at some stage before Christmas 2012 so I’ll just point you in the right direction to see a step-by-step video of the process: here. Is it all worth it? Probably not, but it wouldn’t be a true Easter egg if it were easy.
2/ Singing turrets – Portal 2
I should probably point out there are a large number of Easter eggs in portal 2, but some of them are listed as achievements that you can unlock. If the game automatically brings your attention to such a thing existing, it’s not really a hidden gem, then. Fortunately, for Portal 2, there are a number that are genuinely hidden (you can catch a glimpse of Peabody in single-player mode if you’re quick in test chamber 16 and there’s even an exclusive song by The National playing in one hidden room). The one that is most rewarding is the choir of singing turrets that you are able to find in test chamber 6. Video
1/ Demon spawn – Batman Arkham City
I should put a major spoiler alert in here as this happens quite far into the game. Then again, I’d consider this punishment if you haven’t already played Batman Arkham City so I’m going to press ahead regardless. Arkham City has a large number of hidden gems in it but they too are listed for achievements, so don’t really count as Easter eggs. The “demon spawn” Easter egg, however, comes right from left field. While going back to inspect joker’s office, walk over to the Harley Quinn costume from Arkham Asylum and look on the floor. A positive pregnancy test! I was more than a little taken aback by this, so much so that I had to ring my designated Batman nerd friend to see if DC had ever introduced this concept. Bravo, Rocksteady Studios.