7 Awesome Things Lurking In the Code of Famous Video Games

Remember the Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas "hot coffee" scandal? It was where people peeking into the game's code discovered an abandoned mini-game where CJ could have clothed, awkward sex with the girls he picked up on dates. As it happens, games have insane and bizarre things left behind in their code all the time. Most of the time, no one notices. Occasionally, though, some bored amateur programmer will find a jackpot, like ...

#7. King's Quest II: The Quest for Misogyny

Sierra On-Line

The earliest games in the King's Quest adventure series were simple, keyboard-controlled affairs. You walked your character around with the arrow keys and typed what you wanted to do. If you saw a dagger on the screen, you'd type "take dagger." But you could also type "get dagger" or "acquire dagger" and the game understood that those all meant the same thing. It also knew that the dagger could be called a "knife" or a "blade." In the decades that followed, the coding behind those games was reverse-engineered, and we discovered that King's Quest II had a pretty extensive vocabulary.

Sierra On-Line
It had to do something to make up for those graphics.

In the game, all the female characters are referred to with the same sets of words. Since there's only ever one on the screen at a time, this means that you can call Little Red Riding Hood "mermaid" and the game will still get it. That seems like a fine programming shortcut. Except the list also includes things you wouldn't want your grandma to hear, like "bitch," "whore," "cunt," "slut," and "sperm-burping gutter slut," as I demonstrate in this shitty video I made.

So you can call every female that you meet a "sperm-burping gutter slut," including your character's future wife, and the game will chug right along without missing a beat. That's probably not even close to the first thing that's going to fly out of someone's keyboard when a female pops up on-screen. Except for the person who put it in there, obviously. And maybe the entirety of the modern Internet culture.

#6. Pokemon Red/Blue Almost Let You Fight Your Mentor


Let's rewind through the nearly two decades of Pokemon games (oh god I am so old) and go back to the original Pokemon Red/Blue on the fat, old, black-and-green Game Boy.

It took 44 AA batteries, and you couldn't play it in the dark, and we loved it, goddamn it.

At the very beginning of the game, you get to pick your first Pokemon from three choices. Your rival, Gary (or Dickface, or whatever you called him), picks another. You ever wonder what happened to the third one?

Well, the game was originally going to show you. Code left in the game reveals that the final boss battle was intended to be against Professor Oak himself, who had four high-level Pokemon and a fifth that was a maxed-out version of whichever Pokemon you and Dickface didn't choose. You left it behind to go on adventures with your shitty frenemy, and that straggler was going to fucking wreck you out of some petty Pokemon sense of vengeance. That's kind of a decent worldview lesson if you think about it long enough.

"It's time for old debts to be paid."

Unfortunately, the idea got dropped. The battle still exists, but there's no dialogue programmed in. You can access it with a cheat device (e.g. GameShark) or by utilizing certain glitches. Personally, I prefer to act it out in real life against strangers I meet in the grocery store.

#5. A Bunch of Unfinished Sonic 2 Levels


Easily the greatest (and possibly only) reason to own a Sega Genesis was for the Sonic the Hedgehog games. Mario had his mushrooms and his princess. Sonic had his speed. I'm still fairly positive that both games are social commentaries advocating drug use. And Sonic's speed really shines with the excellent level design, the best of which appears in Sonic the Hedgehog 2.

You have levels with disgusting pink chemical goo, an open-air casino, and a huge machine city, among other things.

If you can't hear the music in your head right now, you're dead inside.

You know what would have been even better, though? If they had included one of the many scrapped levels, remnants of which still exist in the final game.

There was Dust Hill Zone, a desert-themed level that never made it past the concept stage; Wood Zone, a forest level that had bits reappear in Sonic & Knuckles; Hidden Palace Zone, which was so far along that it was actually re-created in recent iOS and Android ports of the game; and the ominously named Genocide City Zone. Which is either a mistranslation or Sonic very nearly took an extremely dark turn.

Politically Lying, Unholy, Cowardly Eggmen

While tiny bits of the levels (mostly just dummied-out data) still exist in the final release, a lot more stuff can be found in prototype versions of the game floating around on the Internet, one of which came from a build produced for a Nickelodeon TV show called Nick Arcade, played here by a young Melissa Joan Hart. She's pretty terrible at it. Enjoy.

"No, use the spin dash, you idiot! God."

#4. A Donkey Kong Job Offer


Donkey Kong was Nintendo's original smash hit, their entry into the world of the arcade and, eventually, home consoles. Who would have thought a scrappy company like them could make such an iconic, classic game?

Today, this would take 20 minutes to make.

Well, they kind of didn't. While Shigeru Miyamoto and Nintendo came up with the concept and design, the game itself was at least partially programmed and manufactured by a company called Ikegami Tsushinki, a fact that Nintendo kept secret. How do we know this now? Two reasons: one, they sued Nintendo for breaking their contract with them (and stealing parts of their code when Nintendo made Donkey Kong Jr.), and two, Ikegami Tsushinki included a hidden message in the game's code.

Like Warren Robinett, creator of the Atari 2600 game Adventure and father of the video game Easter egg, Ikegami Tsushinki hid a message in Donkey Kong that they didn't expect their bosses to find. The message is pretty simple: just a broken English note to anyone who went peeking in the game's code to give the company a call because they might have a job for them.

Ikegami Tsushinki
"And now we wait."

It would have been a bit like finding a golden ticket in your Wonka bar. Except, as far as anyone knows, no one found the message until several years after the game's release, at which point Ikegami Tsushinki and Nintendo were probably finally settling their lawsuit out of court, and since the company got out of the gaming industry after their falling out with Nintendo, it ended up being more like finding a hot person's phone number in a coat you haven't worn since last winter.

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M. Asher Cantrell

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