Nik Taylor: Editor - Tech & Gadgets

10 greatest gaming Easter eggs

Our favourite gaming easter eggs (World of Warcraft image © Blizzard)
There is more to most games than meets the eye. Almost every game you've ever played will have some kind of hidden content - or Easter egg - squirreled away somewhere. Some are fairly easy to find, some require hours of advanced button-mashing and a bucket-load of luck. Once you dig one out, you'll find it contains anything from the names of the games developers to an entirely new level.
 
Below is our list of the 10 best Easter eggs to be found in video games, starting with the earliest of them all. We've spent ages debating which should make the grade, but have tried to go for a mixture of the old and the new. If you've got a favourite that's not featured here, do let us know about it on the message board.
Sega Master System (image © Rlan)
Adventure - The first Easter egg
Way back in the mists of time (well, 1979) Adventure became the first action-adventure game to be released on a console; the venerable Atari 2600. It also contained the first game-based Easter egg, a secret room containing the words ‘Created by Warren Robinett’; the game’s designer.
 
Sega Master System - Maze game
If Santa forgot to pack any cartridges with your Master System in Christmas 1986, it wasn’t a problem. At first glance, the early versions of this classic console had no built-in games. However, there was actually a cunningly hidden maze game. To get to it, you just turned on the machine and held the 1, 2, and up buttons simultaneously.
Mortal Kombat logo (image © Midway)
Mortal Kombat - Taking on Reptile
Reptile was a super-tough opponent who was almost as hard to find as he was to beat. When fighting on the Pit stage, you had to keep an eye on the moon in case a shadowy object flitted across it. If that happened you then had to win your match without getting hit or touching the block button. That done, you got to take on Reptile.
 
Excel 97 - Spreadsheet flight sim
OK, so Excel's not a game, but the 97 edition did have one hidden inside it - a flight simulator. If you’ve still got an old copy knocking about, here’s how to access the egg. Press F5 on a new worksheet, then type X97:L97 and press Enter. Press the tab key, then hold down Ctrl and Shift. Now click on the Chart Wizard toolbar button and the sim will open. Use the mouse to fly around and the left and right buttons to reverse/go forward.
Dopefish easter egg from Daikatana (image © Eidos Interactive)
The Dopefish - Fishy fun
The Dopefish is a buck-toothed, dim-witted cartoony creature that first showed up in an old PC game called Commander Keen IV. Since then, it has taken on almost mythical status, appearing in the background of games such as Max Payne, Hitman 2 and Quake. Check out ‘The Jacuzzi Job’ mission on Hitman 2 to see it making a cameo as a desktop toy.
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (image © Rockstar)
GTA San Andreas - Hot coffee
Surely the most controversial of all Easter eggs – the Hot Coffee minigame could only be unlocked by downloading mod files for the PC version, or fiddling with the save code of the console version. Once accessed the minigame allows the player to step inside with CJ whenever one of his lady-friends invites him in for ‘coffee’. Sadly, no Barry White soundtrack included.
Age of Empires III - Bacon bomb
A great example of a comedy Easter egg in an otherwise straight-faced game. In Campaign or Skirmish mode, head to the chat screen and type 'Ya gotta make do with what ya got' – without the quote marks. This gets you a Mediocre Bombard which fires devastating exploding pigs.
World of Warcraft (Image © Blizzard)
World of Warcraft - Do the funky chicken
WoW is packed with Easter eggs, but this remains a bit of a classic due mainly to its sheer pointlessness. As an Alliance character, head over to Saldean’s Farm in Westfall. Pick yourself a likely looking fowl and perform a chicken dance for it using the /chicken command. You’ll have to do this many, many times in a row, but eventually you’ll get the Cluck! quest. Once completed, you receive your very own pet chicken.
Bowling in Wii Sports (Image © Nintendo)
Wii Sports - Perfect power
Clearing the final level on Wii Bowling’s Power Throw training is no easy task. Unless you cheat. The last stage, where you have to topple 91 pins, has a handy feature which does all the work for you. Move your character over to the far right of the lane, then rotate two clicks to the right. Now do a straight throw and the ball will roll down the rail. When it falls off the other end, bingo, instant power strike!
 
Call of Duty 4 - Airplane mission
Can’t get enough Call Of Duty 4? Us neither. Happily, there’s more to the single player mode than meets the eye. Once you’ve cleared the game, sit through the credits and you’ll reach a special level called Epilogue. The whole thing is set in an aircraft and starts with Captain Price uttering the timeless “I am serious, and don’t call me Shirley” line from Airplane.
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