#3. Super Smash Bros. Trophies Have Obscure References Hidden in Reflections
Super Smash Bros. is a series of fighting games made by Nintendo that feature a bunch of video game mascots beating the incandescent shit out of each other like an extended piece of fan fiction written by a friendless 8-year-old.
To go along with the unbridled insanity of the game's main action, Super Smash Bros. has an exhaustive trophy system consisting of hundreds of unlockable virtual figurines spanning decades of Nintendo's history. There are over 500 all told, and the chance that a player is going to look at any one of them for more than eight seconds is about the same as your odds of winning a unicorn in the lottery. With than in mind, take a look at this Metroid figurine:
We ... may have to take a break. The Metroid flashbacks can sometimes be overwhelming.
Metroid was an early game in the Nintendo library, and this figure is the title character/alien being. However, if you look a little closer at the top of its shell, you may notice something being vaguely reflected:
That is from the title screen of Super Metroid as it would be seen from the perspective of the Metroid, encased in its glass tube:
Those are dead bodies on the floor around it. Or as we like to think, Metroid poop.
To reiterate, the Metroid is one of over 500 separate trophies in Super Smash Bros., and for some reason the game's designers decided to throw in an obscure reference that most people wouldn't even notice, let alone understand. And it isn't the only trophy with a secret reflection.
This one of Metal Mario has something reflected in its nose.
That, or it's drug residue.
Fans argued about what the reflection might be until somebody finally went in and grabbed the texture directly from the game's code.
Kind of looks like a Korn album cover.
That's Yoshi's Island, one of the stages in the game. Now, why in the hell Nintendo chose to hide that image in a reflection on Metal Mario's gin blossomed nose is anyone's guess, but they did it. And by God, the Internet found it.
#2. Everyone in Oblivion Has a Life
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion was the first open-world role-playing game to harness the unlimited might of a next generation gaming system to transport players into a gorgeously rendered fantasy world beyond their wildest imaginations. This is another way of saying the game is full of cockeyed plebeians with smashed-in faces and terrible skin.
"The shrieks of children forever echo in my malformed ears."
But don't laugh -- every single one of those ancillary background characters with the facial features of sharpened turds leads an entire life completely separate from the player. Every guard, baker, blacksmith, and highwayman wakes up, eats breakfast, goes to work, bullshits with their friends, then goes home and goes to bed, whether you are there to see them do it or not.
See, instead of just following a script like non-player characters in most video games, every NPC in Oblivion has a built-in list of needs he or she has to fulfill -- food, sleep, poon-nabbing, etc. If you and your Level 14 Orc Shaman happen to interrupt any one of those needs, say by breaking into an NPC's house and stealing all of his food, the NPC will venture out into the world to find more food for himself. He may get killed by a monster, robbed by a thief, or killed and robbed by a monster thief, or simply return home with a loaf of bread. And in all likelihood, you will never see any of it happen.
"I just stabbed four peasants with a sharpened loaf of bread."
Check out this video -- a lizard woman creeps through the street and picks some lady's pocket, then gets chased by the city guard for like 20 minutes until he finally corners her in her own house and slashes her to death with the king's justice. The player does absolutely nothing to influence any of this; he's just running around like the COPS cameraman trying to keep all the action in frame.
Then there's Roderic Pierrane, an NPC who, if you follow him around (like any heroic adventurer would), you will see sneak out of the house he shares with his wife once a week to go sleep in the bed of another woman.
"Player's gotta play."
Roderic is utterly inconsequential to the game in every way -- you can't buy anything from him, he doesn't play a part in any quest, and he doesn't tell you a single worthwhile piece of information. Yet the programmers of Oblivion decided to give him (and literally hundreds of others) a unique "life" that will carry itself out regardless of whether or not you ever interact with him. This must be similar to the way Brad Pitt feels when he goes to film a movie in Muncie, Indiana, and discovers that there are entire cities that exist outside of his influence.
#1. Fallout: New Vegas Is a Completely Different Game if Your Character Is an Idiot
Fallout: New Vegas was designed by the same people who made Oblivion, so it should come as no surprise that it has its fair share of ridiculous intricacy that most people will never notice, even after 250 hours of play time (which is probably low for the average Fallout: New Vegas player). However, none are more expansive than the "intelligence" Easter egg -- basically, when you create your character, you get to give him or her certain attributes, and if you decide to make one with absurdly low intelligence, every character in the game will treat you like you have a debilitating brain injury. It even changes your conversation options in some cases, requiring you to speak like a time-displaced caveman.
The look on that guy's face says it all, really.
This doesn't happen only in New Vegas, either -- it's been a feature in every Fallout RPG ever released. Not only will your character be unable to speak in anything but a manner generously described as "Gary Busey after the motorcycle accident," but several missions (and virtually all side quests) will be completely unavailable to you.
Let's say you make a character with average intelligence and approach some widow living in an abandoned subway, and after speaking with her she sends you on a quest to retrieve her dead husband's lunchbox or something. If you take your paralyzingly stupid character to the same widow, she'd refuse to even speak to you, and the lunchbox quest would be forever beyond your reach. Bottom line -- if you're stupid, every single character in the Fallout universe hates you by default. There's even a point in New Vegas where your brain gets removed and becomes a sentient being, and if your intelligence is low enough, your own goddamned brain will start giving you shit about being such a hopeless dumbass.
So it's basically the Internet.
There are also some Forrest Gump moments of accidental heroism -- for example, in Fallout New Vegas, there's a mission wherein a security robot will stop you and ask for a password. Normally, a character with a high enough luck rating might be able to guess the password, which, for some reason, is "ice cream." However, a character with cretinously low intelligence will be given the option to just immediately bellow "ICE CREAM!" into the robot's speech receptors, regardless of how lucky they are.
Which is quite possibly the greatest thing ever put into a video game.
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Related Reading: Detail is great and all, but sometimes you just want your games to creep you the hell out- and this article has got you covered. After The Legend of Zelda: Nicholas Cage Edition nothing in your life will ever be the same. Of course, hacks aren't nearly as crazy as the glitches that already exist in your favorite video games. No modder would have programmed Skyrim's planking dead or the protagonist from Assassin's Creed's compulsive masturbation. Once you've had enough of REAL games, it might be time to read Brockway's list of incredible game ideas that will never get made. And if that one isn't enough for you, he's written two more articles full of the best games you'll never play.