#3. Super Mario Sunshine -- The Hidden Mystery Book and the Monster That Poops Other Monsters
There are two types of Mario games (OK, there are like 15 types, but bear with us): the simple 2D ones where you just move from left to right indiscriminately stomping on shit, and the more complex 3D ones where you have to explore areas and collect objects ... while indiscriminately stomping on shit also. Super Mario Sunshine belongs to the latter category, but there's one extremely well hidden item in this game that has baffled fans for years, because no one knows what the hell it's for.
Apparently it's called a "bork" and people took it to the toilet before we had smartphones.
You see, there's a level in Sunshine where you're supposed to collect eight red coins inside a giant bottle full of water. At the bottom of the level, you'll find this structure:
Koopa Industries never finished this dolphin refuge because someone murdered all the workers.
Notice those square holes on the side? If you look inside the one on the right, you can see a brown door at the end, but it can't be opened. No one in the game even mentions this door, so it's impossible to know what's behind ...
... unless you pan the game's camera so that it goes through the wall. If you're standing in the right position, you'll see this:
Not a book icon on your HUD. A book floating in midair.
There's a book hidden behind the secret door. This game has been out for 11 years now, and we still have no idea who put it there or what forbidden knowledge lies inside. The Internet has some ideas, of course: There's a persistent rumor that in the Japanese version of Sunshine you have to find the book for a scavenger hunt, and if you open it, it says "You have no life. Signed, Shigeru Miyamoto" -- but that's simply not true (not the "we have no life" part; that's been proven by now). Here's the level in the Japanese game: It's the exact same thing. So what the hell? To make matters more confusing, the song playing in the background is called "The Book in the Bottle" in the original soundtrack.
The more likely explanation is that this is a leftover item from a mission the developers ended up cutting ... because this game does have a lot of weird abandoned stuff. Like this dude:
So that's how Goombas are born. No need to feel guilty about killing them after all.
That is a deleted enemy that poops smaller enemies. You can only see him by going into an unfinished-looking test level that was left hidden in the game. And if you throw water at him, the skin on its head falls off ... revealing a single giant, unblinking eye on top.
On second thought, we'd rather not know what the people who came up with that put in the book.
#2. Bit.Trip Runner 2 -- Slender Man Is Watching You
Sometimes the most sinister Easter eggs are where you least expect them to be. For instance, Runner 2 is a colorful game where all you do is jump platforms and dodge enemies as your character automatically runs through a stage to upbeat music -- it's basically what Pitfall for Atari would look like if it was made on present-day software (and possibly on drugs).
Just watch this for 10 hours. That is the game.
So this is a perfectly innocent all-ages video game (it's even narrated by Mario's voice actor), but since all that quick jumping and dodging requires so much attention, it's pretty easy not to notice the creepy shit they slip into the background. Like on this level:
Innocent enough, unless you're a grassophobe.
It looks pretty inoffensive, right? Like something you can safely play with your kids without fear that they'll go out and murder a prostitute with a rocket launcher and take off in a stolen car (we're looking at you, FIFA 14). But wait, who's that guy back there ...?
Oh, that's just the Internet's bogeyman, the Slender Man, a supernatural being who specializes in stalking and kidnapping young children. And he doesn't just show up one time; he actually follows you all through this level. Seriously, it's the exact same character from the urban legend, and he's even seen hanging out in his preferred kid-watching location.
The scariest thing to appear in the woods since the teddy bears' picnic.
The worst part is that the game's hyperactive nature makes his presence almost subliminal. You're replaying this stage over and over for half an hour (the game doesn't have lives, it just throws you back to the beginning if you make a single mistake), until you pause at the right moment and realize the Slender Man has been watching you all along. And Slendy isn't the only potential sex offender lurking in the background -- there are others out there, like this jogging giant in cutoff shorts holding a mysterious cylinder:
The cylinder is currently empty. Soon it will contain a child.
Or this ... whatever the hell this is:
The FBI has a special database for monocled disembodied octopus heads.
#1. Psychonauts -- The Burning Orphanage
Psychonauts is the critically acclaimed cult classic from Double Fine Productions, who you might know better as "Those dudes who made a shitload of money on Kickstarter a few months back." Statistically speaking, you may not have played it, but you probably know someone who has.
Double Fine Productions
Who probably won't shut up about it.
It's a fun, lighthearted game about kids using psychic powers and delving into other people's minds, such as in the Milla's Dance Party level, where you're inside the head of one of your instructors, Milla, an upbeat Brazilian woman who loves the '70s aesthetic. Nothing terribly weird there, for a video game.
And yet, if you find a secret room in the level, Milla will specifically warn you away from it, saying that it's "no fun" and "a party killer." If you press on, you can find a scrapbook showing Milla as an orphanage matron taking care of a group of children. Things take a bit of a turn when, in one of the pictures, Milla is shown outside the orphanage and it's on fire. And then you see screaming, burning children surrounding her.
Double Fine Productions
Or trying to untangle themselves from her massively unkempt hair. One or the other.
After you flip through the scrapbook, you can enter a large chest in the same room with a red glow coming from inside (again disobeying Milla's lax warnings not to go there) -- at which point you'll find yourself in a straight-up hellish landscape, surrounded by wraiths hissing things like "MILLA, WHY DON'T YOU HELP US?" and "MILLA, WHY DID YOU LET US DIE?"
Double Fine Productions
"MILLA, WHY DID YOU LEAVE THE HAIR STRAIGHTENER PLUGGED IN?"
So that's pretty intense, even for a T-rated game. What's even creepier, though, is if you dig through the game's files, where you can find voice-acted lines from Milla herself. It seems there may have been a cutscene intended to show Milla's gritty backstory instead of just a scrapbook, because there are recordings of her saying things like "Ahh! The orphanage! It's on fire!" "The children! Someone save the children!" "Oh, God, no!" and "They're screaming!" Plus assorted wracking sobs and cries of anguish. Man, no wonder this game is such a classic.
Maxwell Yezpitelok has a new webcomic about robot kids punching each other, if you're into that sort of thing. For more from Ashe, check out Weird Shit Blog. You can also buy his book, The Book of Word Records, right now from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Do you have a cell phone with a camera? Then you're halfway to winning our pocket film contest. Bust out that phone and show us the funny in 30-seconds or less for your chance to win. Check out the contest details and submit here.
Related Reading: Speaking of Easter Eggs, have you seen Skyrim's tribute to Minecraft? If creepy is what you want, let Portal 2 talk rapey to you. There's something special about games that put insane effort into stuff you barely notice. Help us honor them.
No Easter Egg here, just a good old fashioned alien ass-whupping.