#3. A Disgruntled Employee Invents the Easter Egg
When most people think of the birth of the action RPG genre, they think of The Legend of Zelda. Link had a forebearer, however, in the form of a 1979 Atari 2600 game simply titled Adventure. It worked pretty much the same way as the early Zelda games: Players picked up items to help them move through dungeons, and slew monsters and dragons. It was a pretty straightforward game, and a relatively popular one at that.
It's because it was so orange.
But back in the late 70s and early 80s, Atari was kind of a shitty place to work. Most games were made by just one person, and they didn't even get credit on the box. So when Adventure's creator, Warren Robinett, got to work on the game, he decided to stick it to The Man by hiding his name in the game's code. But instead of just adding "SUCK MY DICK. 8===D SINCERELY, WARREN ROBINETT" he decided to hide it in a really clever fashion.
Robinett, being the sole programmer on Adventure, knew perfectly well that the game had a really bad graphical glitch brought on by the system's limited hardware: When too many objects appeared on the screen, the images would begin rapidly flashing -- a phenomenon typically referred to as sprite flickering (if you've played any of the old Mega Man games, you probably know exactly what we're talking about).
Robinett decided to exploit the glitch by including a secret item in the game: A small 1x1 pixel square that was the same color as the floor, making it effectively invisible. If picked up by the player and brought to another part of the dungeon, players could intentionally trigger the sprite flickering. This would also cause a black bar that served as a dungeon wall to flicker. Players could walk through it, and inside was a plain purple room with "CREATED BY WARREN ROBINETT" written on the floor.
And thus was born the first Easter egg in video game history. By the time Atari found out, it was too late and too costly to recall the cartridges, so they just called it an "added value." (Robinett had luckily already moved on from the company by that point.)
One of the suits at Atari was the guy who, in describing it, coined the term "Easter egg." Today, if a game doesn't have well-hidden levels, items or unlockable sarcastic voiceovers, we feel cheated.
#2. Street Fighter Accidentally Invents Combos
Street Fighter II inspired nearly 20 years worth of fighting games. It's still played in tournaments today. Well, the Hyper Street Fighter II Alpha Turbo Mega HD remix is, anyway.
Extended Director's Cut Collector's Platinum Edition.
When developing what would be become Street Fighter II, producer Noritaka Funamizu noticed that there was a glitch that would let you sneak in two punches as part of the same move. He discovered it during the car-smashing bonus stage, also known as the best damn bonus stage ever.
Uppercutting the shit out of cars -- this game had it all.
The bug took perfect timing and let players sneak in a couple of extra hits, which was important because this was a multi-player game. If gamers fighting against each other could exploit this, they could string together several hits without the opponent being able to respond.
Noritaka left the bug in the game because he figured it'd be too difficult for players to pull off anyway (the rest of the development team didn't even know about it). But he underestimated the dedication and, quite frankly, insanity of competitive fighting game players, and soon these "combo" attacks became all the rage.
Starting with Super Street Fighter II (one of what would turn out to be many, many iterations of the game), the bug became official. The game started keeping track and rewarding a higher score for these combination attacks. It added a completely different dynamic to the game -- specifically the ability to instantly come from behind in a fight that seemed lost, by stringing together an insane combo:
Now, making a fighting game without combo attacks would be like, well, a Tomb Raider game without giant boobs. If you've ever played Tekken, Soul Calibur or pretty much any fighting game in the modern era, you can thank Noritaka Funamizu for letting a glitch slide.
#1. A Programmer Sucking at Games Gave Us the Konami Code
If you've played Gradius you don't need us to describe it. If you haven't, we can describe it in one word: LASERS!
The game and all of its sequels are known for being bastard hard. At any one time, it is perfectly possible for there to be dozens of individual danger zones on the screen. By danger zones, we of course mean areas on the screen you'll die instantly and make you have to start again, without any of the power-ups you just busted your ass unlocking.
This wasn't an isolated thing and you weren't the only one who sucked: Kazuhisa Hashimoto, one of the guys who helped freaking create the home port of the game, couldn't play it. After watching his ship explode endlessly during play testing, he eventually thought, Screw this, I'm the programmer! and created a code -- a simple set of button presses to give himself a full set of power-ups, no doubt laughing to himself as he played back through the game.
So why are we calling it a glitch? He accidentally left the code in the game when it was released.
That code is what is now famously known as the Konami Code (up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A). It's a string that old-school gamers know by heart (they should -- it was the only thing that let them get even half way through Contra). Not only did the code make it into Konami's subsequent releases, but the code has been somewhat of an Easter egg in dozens of other games from other developers. In Resident Evil 2, it gave you infinite ammo; in Quake 4 it completed all your objectives for you; and in Tony Hawk 2 it let you unlock Spider-Man.
Someone did it in real life, and it created Bjork.
And after that, the code started leaking into the real world, becoming a bona fide pop culture phenomenon. Just try entering it here (we really don't want to spoil the surprise, just trust us). Dozens of other websites have implemented Easter eggs when you enter the code -- our favorite is probably the Marvel.com version, in which a tiny rodent wearing a Deadpool mask would leap onto the screen and berate you for it.
The only really disappointing thing is nothing happens if you enter it on the Konami website. Amazing, considering even ESPN used it to make rainbow unicorn farts all over their homepage.
For more video game Easter eggs, check out 9 Video Game Easter Eggs That Took Years to Find. Or find out how clever your favorite musicians really are in 10 Mind-Blowing Easter Eggs Hidden in Famous Albums.
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