10 Video Game Easter Eggs That Took Years to Discover

While most Easter eggs are found within a matter of days or even weeks after a video game’s release date, some secrets have taken much longer to reveal themselves. Here are 10 video game Easter eggs that took years to discover.  

1. GOLDENEYE 007 (1997)

GoldenEye 007 is considered one of the best first-person shooter video games of all time. Though many of its secrets were found upon its release in 1997, a computer engineer with the username “spoondiddly” discovered a pretty big Easter egg 15 years later. Buried deep inside the game’s code, there’s a fully functional emulator with 10 playable games for the ZX Spectrum system (UK’s version of the Commodore 64). Now you can play games like Lunar Jetman, Gunfright, and Knight Lore inside of GoldenEye 007.

The company that developed the game, Rare, was tinkering around with system emulation for the N64, which was a new console at the time. Instead of removing the emulation, Rare just disabled it with a patch. However, spoondiddly discovered how to re-patch it.

2. THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: A LINK TO THE PAST (1991)

In 1990, Nintendo Power hosted a contest where one of its readers' names would appear in an upcoming SNES video game. A reader named Chris Houlihan won the contest, so Nintendo programmers named a secret room after him in The Legend of Zelda: A Link To The Past. The room remained hidden for 10 years until gamers started to pick apart the game’s code in 2002.

Gamers can find the room using the Pegasus Boots in a series of dashes from the Sanctuary to the Sewer Passageway's entrance. If done correctly, the secret room will reveal itself. Once inside, Link will be greeted with the name of the room and 45 Blue Rupees.

3. DONKEY KONG (1983)

In 1983, Atari hired video game programmer and designer Landon Dyer to port Donkey Kong from the arcade to the Atari 400/800 home consoles. After he finished writing more than 25,000 lines of assembly code, Dyer hid his initials “LMD” deep inside of the game. It remained undiscovered until an engineer named Don Hodges figured out how to unlock the Easter egg 26 years later in 2009.

Here’s how to find Dyer’s initials: First, set a new high score between 33,000 and 33,900 points. Then kill off all your remaining lives, but save the last life to be killed off by falling off a really high girder. Afterwards, press the “Option” button three times to set the game’s difficulty level to 4. This will unlock the game’s credits page and the programmer’s initials, “LMD.”

4. WAVE RACE: BLUE STORM (2001)

Released in 2001, Wave Race: Blue Storm was a hit jet ski racing game for Nintendo’s GameCube. Although a majority of its secrets were revealed throughout the game’s initial release, it took gamers almost 10 years to discover an Easter egg hidden deep in its audio settings menu. Once unlocked, the normally upbeat and enthusiastic announcer will be replaced with a bored and sarcastic one.

Here’s how to find the Easter egg: Go to the audio settings menu and tap “Z” until the waveform on the page looks like rising fog, and then use the D-Pad to type in “Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, A, X, and Z.” You’ll then hear an audio cue if you entered the code in correctly. Start a race and pick the first racer to hear the voice of the new announcer.

5. SUPER SMASH BROS. MELEE (2001)

Seven years after Super Smash Bros. Melee was released for the GameCube in 2001, an Easter egg was discovered to unlock the game’s final boss, Master Hand, as a playable character. The player has to perform a very elaborate combination of inserting controllers and some well-timed button pushing, but the end result will have you dominating every character in the game.

Here’s how to unlock the character: First, connect a controller in port three of the GameCube, then go to the character selection screen in the game. Select an opponent and then select your character as “Human.” Instead of selecting a character, clear all the names in your list except one (this will be the new option for Master Hand). Now position your cursor on the entry box to select a name, but instead press “A” and “B” at the same time. Continue holding “B,” but let go of “A” for a split second and then press “A” again at the exact same time the character selection screen exits. If done correctly, the game will take you to the setting location screen where you can now pick any location to play as Master Hand.

6. BATMAN: ARKHAM CITY (2011)

In 2011, video game developer Rocksteady Studios included a secret message inside of Batman: Arkham City that revealed hints and clues surrounding its sequel, Arkham Knight. The Easter egg remained hidden for three years until Rocksteady released how to unlock it in a YouTube video in 2014. If you set your Xbox 360, PS3, or PC's clock to the date December 13, 2004, Calendar Man will give a monologue about being there “from the beginning," and will warn you that "the end of days is coming." The special date in 2004 is when Rocksteady Studios was established.

7. PUNCH-OUT!! (1987)

In 2009, late Nintendo president Satoru Iwata revealed a visual cue in Punch-Out!! to knock out Bald Bull during the first fight. When a camera flashes on the right side of the first row in the crowd, that’s the exact moment to throw the knockout blow. Iwata revealed the Easter egg 22 years after the boxing game was released.

Earlier this year, a similar Easter egg was also revealed that clued gamers in on how to knock out Piston Honda during the first World Circuit bout. When the bearded man on the left side of the first row ducks down, that’s the exact moment to throw a punch to knock out the Japanese boxer. 

8. FINAL FANTASY IX (2000)

Since it was released for the original PlayStation in the year 2000, gamers have unlocked most of the secrets and quests contained in Final Fantasy IX. However, the game’s final side quest was discovered 13 years after its release. The secret quest involved the Nero Brothers teaching Zidane how to gamble. Gamers had to track down and encounter all three brothers throughout the game on disc four, only to receive a Protect Ring once the side-quest was completed.

9. SPLINTER CELL: DOUBLE AGENT (2006)

While hardcore fans often find Easter eggs in video games within weeks of release, sometimes secrets are hidden so well that the game’s programmers have to come out and tell people how to find them. Take Splinter Cell: Double Agent, for example. It was released in 2006, but one of its Easter eggs remained hidden until Ubisoft released how to unlock a special baby seal rescue mission in 2010. The secret side mission must be found in co-op mode and involves an elaborate series of finding coins in the right order to use in various vending machines to rescue five seals wearing party hats with the names Muffin, Pepperoni, Vanilla, Cookie, and Buddy.

10. HALO 3 (2007)

Although Halo 3 was released in 2007, a special message from the game’s developer Adrian Perez to his wife wasn’t discovered until seven years later in 2014. Halo modder Lord Zedd found the secret after a game engineer revealed there was only one more Easter egg that remained hidden during a fan Q&A in 2012.

If you press down both thumbsticks during the game’s loading screen on December 25, it will reveal a wider look at the Halo ring with the message “Happy Birthday, Lauren!” inscribed on it. The Easter egg is only available to view on December 25, or if your Xbox 360 or Xbox One’s internal clock is set to the date.

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Zach Hyman, HBO
10 Bizarre Sesame Street Fan Theories
Zach Hyman, HBO
Zach Hyman, HBO

Sesame Street has been on the air for almost 50 years, but there’s still so much we don’t know about this beloved children’s show. What kind of bird is Big Bird? What’s the deal with Mr. Noodle? And how do you actually get to Sesame Street? Fans have filled in these gaps with frequently amusing—and sometimes bizarre—theories about how the cheerful neighborhood ticks. Read them at your own risk, because they’ll probably ruin the Count for you.

1. THE THEME SONG CONTAINS SECRET INSTRUCTIONS.

According to a Reddit theory, the Sesame Street theme song isn’t just catchy—it’s code. The lyrics spell out how to get to Sesame Street quite literally, giving listeners clues on how to access this fantasy land. It must be a sunny day (as the repeated line goes), you must bring a broom (“sweeping the clouds away”), and you have to give Oscar the Grouch the password (“everything’s a-ok”) to gain entrance. Make sure to memorize all the steps before you attempt.

2. SESAME STREET IS A REHAB CENTER FOR MONSTERS.

Sesame Street is populated with the stuff of nightmares. There’s a gigantic bird, a mean green guy who hides in the trash, and an actual vampire. These things should be scary, and some fans contend that they used to be. But then the creatures moved to Sesame Street, a rehabilitation area for formerly frightening monsters. In this community, monsters can’t roam outside the perimeters (“neighborhood”) as they recover. They must learn to educate children instead of eating them—and find a more harmless snack to fuel their hunger. Hence Cookie Monster’s fixation with baked goods.

3. BIG BIRD IS AN EXTINCT MOA.

Big Bird is a rare breed. He’s eight feet tall and while he can’t really fly, he can rollerskate. So what kind of bird is he? Big Bird’s species has been a matter of contention since Sesame Street began: Big Bird insists he’s a lark, while Oscar thinks he’s more of a homing pigeon. But there’s convincing evidence that Big Bird is an extinct moa. The moa were 10 species of flightless birds who lived in New Zealand. They had long necks and stout torsos, and reached up to 12 feet in height. Scientists claim they died off hundreds of years ago, but could one be living on Sesame Street? It makes sense, especially considering his best friend looks a lot like a woolly mammoth.

4. OSCAR’S TRASH CAN IS A TARDIS.

Oscar’s home doesn’t seem very big. But as The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland revealed, his trash can holds much more than moldy banana peels. The Grouch has chandeliers and even an interdimensional portal down there! There’s only one logical explanation for this outrageously spacious trash can: It’s a Doctor Who-style TARDIS.

5. IT’S ALL A RIFF ON PLATO.

Dust off your copy of The Republic, because this is about to get philosophical. Plato has a famous allegory about a cave, one that explains enlightenment through actual sunlight. He describes a prisoner who steps out of the cave and into the sun, realizing his entire understanding of the world is wrong. When he returns to the cave to educate his fellow prisoners, they don’t believe him, because the information is too overwhelming and contradictory to what they know. The lesson is that education is a gradual learning process, one where pupils must move through the cave themselves, putting pieces together along the way. And what better guide is there than a merry kids’ show?

According to one Reddit theory, Sesame Street builds on Plato’s teachings by presenting a utopia where all kinds of creatures live together in harmony. There’s no racism or suffocating gender roles, just another sunny (see what they did there?) day in the neighborhood. Sesame Street shows the audience what an enlightened society looks like through simple songs and silly jokes, spoon-feeding Plato’s “cave dwellers” knowledge at an early age.

6. MR. NOODLE IS IN HELL.

Can a grown man really enjoy taking orders from a squeaky red puppet? And why does Mr. Noodle live outside a window in Elmo’s house anyway? According to this hilariously bleak theory, no, Mr. Noodle does not like dancing for Elmo, but he has to, because he’s in hell. Think about it: He’s seemingly trapped in a surreal place where he can’t talk, but he has to do whatever a fuzzy monster named Elmo says. Definitely sounds like hell.

7. ELMO IS ANIMAL’S SON.

Okay, so remember when Animal chases a shrieking woman out of the college auditorium in The Muppets Take Manhattan? (If you don't, see above.) One fan thinks Animal had a fling with this lady, which produced Elmo. While the two might have similar coloring, this theory completely ignores Elmo’s dad Louie, who appears in many Sesame Street episodes. But maybe Animal is a distant cousin.

8. COOKIE MONSTER HAS AN EATING DISORDER.

Cookie Monster loves to cram chocolate chip treats into his mouth. But as eagle-eyed viewers have observed, he doesn’t really eat the cookies so much as chew them into messy crumbs that fly in every direction. This could indicate Cookie Monster has a chewing and spitting eating disorder, meaning he doesn’t actually consume food—he just chews and spits it out. There’s a more detailed (and dark) diagnosis of Cookie Monster’s symptoms here.

9. THE COUNT EATS CHILDREN.

Can a vampire really get his kicks from counting to five? One of the craziest Sesame Street fan theories posits that the Count lures kids to their death with his number games. That’s why the cast of children on Sesame Street changes so frequently—the Count eats them all after teaching them to add. The adult cast, meanwhile, stays pretty much the same, implying the grown-ups are either under a vampiric spell or looking the other way as the Count does his thing.

10. THE COUNT IS ALSO A PIMP.

Alright, this is just a Dave Chappelle joke. But the Count does have a cape.

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17 Things to Know About René Descartes
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iStock

The French polymath René Descartes (1596-1650) lived after the Renaissance, but he personified that age's interest in mathematics, philosophy, art, and the nature of humanity. He made numerous discoveries and argued for ideas that people continue to grapple with. (His dualist distinction between mind and the brain, for example, continues to be debated by psychologists.) Get to know him better!

1. NOBODY CALLED HIM RENÉ.

Descartes went by a nickname and often introduced himself as “Poitevin” and signed letters as “du Perron.” Sometimes, he went so far to call himself the “Lord of Perron.” That’s because he had inherited a farm from his mother’s family in Poitou, in western France.

2. SCHOOL MADE HIM FEEL DUMBER.

From the age of 11 to 18, Descartes attended one of the best schools in Europe, the Jesuit College of Henry IV in La Flèche, France. In his later work Discourse on the Method, Descartes wrote that, upon leaving school, “I found myself involved in so many doubts and errors, that I was convinced I had advanced no farther in all my attempts at learning, than the discovery at every turn of my own ignorance."

3. HIS DAD WANTED HIM TO BE A LAWYER.

Descartes’s family was chock-full of lawyers, and the budding intellectual was expected to join them. He studied law at the University of Poitiers and even came home with a law degree in 1616. But he never entered the practice. In 1618, a 22-year-old Descartes enlisted as a mercenary in the Dutch States Army instead. There, he would study military engineering and become fascinated with math and physics.

4. HE CHANGED CAREER PATHS THANKS TO A SERIES OF DREAMS.

In 1618, the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, Ferdinand II, attempted to impose Catholicism on anybody living within his domain. The result of this policy would be the Thirty Years' War. It would also prompt Descartes, a Catholic, to switch allegiances to a Bavarian army fighting for the Catholic side. But on his travels, he stopped in the town of Ulm. There, on the night of November 10, he had three dreams that convinced him to change his life’s path. “Descartes took from them the message that he should set out to reform all knowledge,” philosopher Gary Hatfield writes in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

5. HE COULD BE EASILY DISTRACTED BY BRIGHT AND SHINY OBJECTS.

In 1628, Descartes moved to the Netherlands and spent nine months doggedly working on a theory of metaphysics. Then he got distracted. In 1629, a number of false suns—called parhelia, or “sun dogs”—were seen near Rome. Descartes put his beloved metaphysics treatise on the back burner and devoted his time to explaining the phenomenon. It was a lucky distraction: It led to his work The World, or Treatise on Light.

6. HE LAID THE GROUNDWORK FOR ANALYTIC GEOMETRY ...

In 1637, Descartes published his groundbreaking Discourse on the Method, where he took the revolutionary step of describing lines through mathematical equations. According to Hatfield, “[Descartes] considered his algebraic techniques to provide a powerful alternative to actual compass-and-ruler constructions when the latter became too intricate.” You might have encountered his system in high school algebra: They’re called Cartesian coordinates.

7. ... AND THE REST OF WESTERN PHILOSOPHY.

Everybody knows Descartes for his phrase Cogito, ergo sum (which originally appeared in French as "Je pense, donc je suis"), or "I think, therefore I am." The concept appeared in many of his texts. To understand what it means, some context is helpful: At the time, many philosophers claimed that truth was acquired through sense impressions. Descartes disagreed. He argued that our senses are unreliable. An ill person can hallucinate. An amputee can feel phantom limb pain. People are regularly deceived by their own eyes, dreams, and imaginations. Descartes, however, realized that his argument opened a door for "radical doubt": That is, what was stopping people from doubting the existence of, well, everything? The cogito argument is his remedy: Even if you doubt the existence of everything, you cannot doubt the existence of your own mind—because doubting indicates thinking, and thinking indicates existing. Descartes argued that self-evident truths like this—and not the senses—must be the foundation of philosophical investigations.

8. HE'S THE REASON YOUR MATH TEACHER MAKES YOU CHECK YOUR WORK.

Descartes was obsessed with certainty. In his book Rules for the Direction of the Mind, “he sought to generalize the methods of mathematics so as to provide a route to clear knowledge of everything that human beings can know,” Hatfield writes. His advice included this classic chestnut: To solve a big problem, break it up into small, easy-to-understand parts—and check each step often.

9. HE LIKED TO HIDE.

Descartes had a motto, which he took from Ovid: “Who lives well hidden, lives well.” When he moved to the Netherlands, he regularly changed apartments and deliberately kept his address a secret. Some say it's because he simply desired privacy for his philosophical work, or that he was avoiding his disapproving family. In his book titled Descartes, philosopher A. C. Grayling makes another suggestion: "Descartes was a spy."

10. HE WASN'T AFRAID OF CRITICS. IN FACT, HE RE-PUBLISHED THEM.

When Descartes was revising his Meditations on First Philosophy [PDF], he planned to send the manuscript to “the 20 or 30 most learned theologians” for criticism—a sort of proto-peer review. He collected seven objections and published them in the work. (Descartes, of course, had the last word: He responded to each criticism.)

11. HE COULD THROW SHADE WITH THE BEST OF THEM.

In the 1640s, Descartes’s pupil and friend Henricus Regius published a broadsheet that distorted Descartes’s theory of the mind. (Which, put briefly, posits that the material body and immaterial mind are separate and distinct.) The two men had a falling out, and Descartes wrote a rebuttal with a barbed title that refused to even acknowledge Regius’s manifesto by name: It was simply called “Comments on a Certain Broadsheet.”

12. HE NEVER BELIEVED MONKEYS COULD TALK.

There’s a “fun fact” parading around that suggests Descartes believed monkeys and apes could talk. He believed no such thing. According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Descartes denied that animals were even conscious, let alone capable of speech. The factoid comes from a misreading of a letter Descartes had written in 1646, in which he attributed the belief to “savages.”

13. HE TOTALLY HAD THE HOTS FOR CROSS-EYED WOMEN.

In a letter to Queen Christina of Sweden, Descartes explained that he had a cross-eyed playmate as a child. “I loved a girl of my own age ... who was slightly cross-eyed; by which means, the impression made in my brain when I looked at her wandering eyes was joined so much to that which also occurred when the passion of love moved me, that for a long time afterward, in seeing cross-eyed women, I felt more inclined to love them than others.”

14. WHEN HE MET BLAISE PASCAL, THEY GOT INTO AN ARGUMENT ... ABOUT VACUUMS.

In 1647, a 51-year-old Descartes visited the 24-year-old prodigy and physicist Blaise Pascal. Their meeting quickly devolved into a heated argument over the concept of a vacuum—that is, the idea that air pressure could ever be reduced to zero. (Descartes said it was impossible; Pascal disagreed.) Later, Descartes wrote a letter that, depending on your translation, said that Pascal had “too much vacuum in his head.”

15. HIS WORK WAS BANNED BY THE CATHOLIC CHURCH.

Back in the late 1630s, the theologian Gisbert Voetius had convinced the academic senate of the University of Utrecht to condemn the philosopher’s work. (Descartes was Catholic, but his suggestion that the universe began as a “chaotic soup of particles in motion,” in Hatfield's words, was contrary to orthodox theology.) In the 1660s, his works were placed on the church’s Index of Prohibited Books.

16. HE REGULARLY SLEPT UNTIL NOON (AND TRYING TO BREAK THE HABIT MIGHT HAVE KILLED HIM).

Descartes was not a morning person. He often snoozed 12 hours a night, from midnight until lunchtime. In fact, he worked in bed. (Sleep, he wisely wrote, was a time of “nourishment for the brain.”) But according to the Journal of Historical Neuroscience, he may have had a sleep disorder that helped end his life. A year before his death, Descartes had moved to Stockholm to take a job tutoring Queen Christina, a devoted early-riser who forced Descartes to change his sleep schedule. Some believe the resulting sleep deprivation weakened his immune system and eventually killed him.

17. HIS SKELETON HAS TRAVELED FAR AND WIDE.

Descartes died in Stockholm in 1650 and was buried outside the city. Sixteen years later, his corpse was exhumed and taken to Paris. During the French Revolution, his bones were moved to an Egyptian sarcophagus at the Museum of French Monuments. Decades later, when plans were made to rebury Descartes in an abbey, officials discovered that most of his bones—including his skull—were missing. Shortly after, a Swedish scientist discovered a newspaper advertisement attempting to sell the polymath’s noggin [PDF]. Today, his head is in a collection at the Musée de l’Homme in Paris.

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