We love solving a good mystery — even if the pay-off isn’t really worth it. Maybe that’s why players keep hunting for secrets in video games years later. We just can’t give up when we know there’s more to discover. Today we’re delving back into the murky waters of years-later discoveries. Some of these are truly mind-blowing and were only uncovered very recently. The prologue Easter egg in The Last of Us? The game completion cheat code in Nier Automata? That stuff is brand new.
People are still finding secrets the “legit” way, but the advent of datamining and reverse-engineering code has lead to lots of discoveries for very old games in our modern era. There’s a resurgence of secrets thanks to modders and coders. Those people deserve a hardy handshake.
Stuck at home? Revisit some lists on Gameranx:
- 10 Secrets, Cheats & Easter Eggs That Took Fans Years To Discover
- 20 Best Modern Games You Can Beat In 5 Hours Or Less
- 10 Scariest Moments In Games That Aren’t Scary
- 10 Unbelievable Video Game Rumors That Turned Out To Be True
- 10 Weirdest & Worst Mini-Games You Were Forced To Play
- 10 Best Bugs That Made Games More Fun | Most Useful Glitches List
Cordyceps Ant [The Last Of Us]
The Last Of Us took a different spin with its zombie apocalypse, introducing weird fungus-based infection instead of the normal virus. In a weird Easter egg discovered just recently, you can get a look at a pic of the real cordyceps phenomenon in action. Ants with fungus growing in their heads will act against their best interests to spread the fungus further, and streamer AnthonyCaliber discovered the hidden picture of a cordyceps ant in the prologue of The Last Of Us.
To trigger the secret, you have to go downstairs in the prologue. At the bottom of the stairs, you’ll trigger a hidden checkpoint. Now, just exit the game and reload — you’ll be able to go back up the stairs and witness this super creepy picture. And it’s even confirmed to be an Easter egg from a dev at Naughty Dog. That’s a find that took 7+ years.
Shin Akuma Cheat Code [Street Fighter Alpha 2]
7 years doesn’t look too impressive next to this. User Gizaha on the Zeldix Forums discovered a cheat code in Street Fighter Alpha 2 on SNES to access Shin Akuma. This super-powered special character was a well-known secret in other versions of the game, but he was notably missing on SNES. Turns out he was there all along — and it only took 25 years for someone to find him.
Inputting the code is pretty crazy. When you hear how it’s done, you’ll understand why nobody ever discovered this. To play as Shin Akuma, you need to complete Arcade Mode and input “KAJ” for your high score. Next, use the second controller to hold [L, X, Y, Start] while the first controller navigates the Versus menu. Then you just hold down [Start] and select Akuma. I’m really not surprised someone had to reverse engineer the game code to discover that.
Skip To The True Ending [Nier Automata]
Dataminer Lance McDonald discovered a secret code in Nier Automata, allowing players to leap forward and skip multiple playthroughs to reach Ending E — and just so we’re keeping score, that’s the True Final Ending of the game, which normally requires multiple playthroughs to reach. Using this weird cheat code lets you bypass everything.
To activate the code detailed in the video above, you need to defeat the very first boss. After the fight, 9S talks to 2B and flies away — this is the area you can input the code. In other words, this is “Ch. 01-02_3: 2B Inside The Factory” and you have to input the code before reaching the next combat encounter.
In the back of the wrecked arena, there are two conspicuous sets of barrels — 3 on the left and right. Stand between the barrels, you need to input the following code.
- While Holding [R2]: Up, Down, Up, Right, Left, Square, Circle, Triangle, Cross
Do it right, and you’ll teleport directly to the stirring final moments of the game. That’s multiple playthroughs skipped! If you’re keeping track, this cheat took 7~ years to discover.
Secret Levels For Testers Only [Bomberman 64]
We love levels so much we just wrote a list of the 18 best levels of 2020. Levels are great, and secret level is my personal ambrosia — even if the stages aren’t really meant to be played. For example, modder Skelux discovered some locked levels in the code of Bomberman 64. There’s no way to actually access these levels in-game, but it’s still cool we can check them out. They’re clearly levels designed specifically for debugging — they’re clearly unfinished! But we just can’t say no to finding stuff.
It Really Wasn’t Worth It [Donkey Kong]
Donkey Kong on the Atari was made by just one man named Landon Dyer. With no support, he tried to replicate the coin-busting arcade game — and about 25 years after the game’s release, he revealed there’s a hidden Easter egg. If the player completes an impossible set of conditions, you’ll get to see it for yourself. So Easter Egg Hunter Don Hodges jumped at the challenge. The requirements are indeed ridiculous.
- Play and hit a high score of 37,000 / 73,000 / 77,000.
- Ones, Tens, and Hundreds digits can be any number.
- Lose all your lives and Game Over with a falling death.
- Set the difficult to 4.
- Wait for the demo of Donkey Kong jumping to play and reach the Title.
If you do all that, you’ll find Landon Dyer’s initial — LMD — on the Title Screen. Was it worth it? Absolutely not.
Locust Duck Hunt [Gears of War 3]
Gears of War 3 is a treasure trove of secrets and Easter eggs. There are so many, it’s no wonder at least one of them went unfound for years — and this one is a real doozy. As explained by GowTac-Com on Youtube, you’ll need to reach Act 2 – Chapter 2 – House of Sand. From there you need to find three hidden coins in the trees. Shooting the three coins in the correct order makes a light appear — and stepping into that light teleports you to a shooting range.
This is where the fun begins. Using the turret, you can blast Locust as they fly out of the ground — you’ll find plenty of guns on the ground, but it’s all just for show. No secrets here. If you’re ever replaying this 360 era standby, you can now blow your friend’s minds.
Metroid Prime [Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze]
Looking carefully, one avid Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze player spotted something lurking in the waters that we haven’t seen in a long time — a Metroid! Originally found by @ShaneMarch on Twitter, we even covered this a few years back when it was first discovered.
The Metroid appears in Level 4-3: Amiss Abyss. You have to travel through the stage until you reach a brightly lit section. Then you’ll have to backtrack into the darkness, taking a hit in the progress. Follow that path, and a baby Metroid alien will appear in the background.
Why is this a Metroid Prime reference specifically? Because the devs that made Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze also created the Metroid Prime Trilogy!
Happy Birthday, Lauren [Halo 3]
On a very specific day, Halo 3 players were in for a surprise on their loading screens. On Christmas Day [12/25], you need to start Solo Campaign and hold down on both thumbsticks. Do that, and the words “Happy Birthday, Lauren!” will appear on the ring. This little Easter egg is only found in the original 360 version of Halo 3 — you won’t find it in the Master Chief Collection.
So, who is Lauren? According to Halopedia, Lauren is the wife of Bungie programmer Adrian Perez. Perez is the one that added in this little Easter egg — and it wasn’t really meant to be discovered! Just a cute secret meant to be shared with a loved one. Still, the secret was discovered by Youtuber Lord Zedd. It just took 7 years and tearing apart the code.
The Hidden 1-Up [Mario 64]
It isn’t much, but a simple 1-Up Mushroom is blowing minds across the internet whenever it’s shared. Gamers of a certain age (old people) probably have fond memories of playing Mario 64 — it’s the first truly great 3D Platformer. We all remember Whomp’s Fortress. It’s one of the most iconic platformer levels ever at this point. And there’s a 1-Up we all missed.
There’s a tower at the very top of the fortress with receding platforms. Along the bottom of this tower is a hidden wall that Mario can punch, revealing a 1-Up that literally nobody found. Well, maybe someone found this thing but it absolutely wasn’t me, and they absolutely did not share the secret. Nobody even punches walls in Mario 64!
Nobody Knew About The Naboo Starfighter [Star Wars: Rogue Squadron]
We’ve never talked about the Nintendo 64 so much in our lives. Yes, there’s another secret in a N64 game nobody knew about for the longest time — the creators of the Classic Trilogy spaceflight simulation included a hidden Naboo Starfighter in the game that wasn’t found until much, much later.
Like most of these things, a developer just had to flat-out tell people that this thing existed. Look, this has to be one of the most ridiculously well-hidden secrets in any game — to unlock it, you have to input two cheat codes. And one of the cheat codes (falsely) gets you a failure noise when you input it. I’ve seen some obscure secrets, but most of them don’t lie to you.
To unlock the ship, go to the Passcodes menu and enter [HALIFAX?] — then enter [!YNGWIE] and you’ll get it. Both codes give you a rejection noise, but if you input them both, the Naboo Starfighter will unlock. This one only took 6 months to be revealed — way less than a year — but it’s still considered one of the best kept secrets in gaming.
Even with datamining, there are still secrets that allude us for years. Found anything new? We must know every secret in games. We must! Let us know if there are any secrets you’ve learned about that we missed.