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 ...
King's Quest II: The Quest for Misogyny
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
"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.
Even Scarier Half-Life and Left 4 Dead Enemies
The Half-Life series was groundbreaking in terms of storytelling as well as shit-your-pants horror. The monsters in those games are already pretty scary, ranging from giant crab parasites that turn people into zombies to bizarre alien beasts, including a huge, sentient nutsack and a giant fetus with an exposed brain.
We've told you before about Mr. Friendly, a weird, crawling rape monster from Half-Life that would have literally murdered Gordon Freeman with its penis, but that's just one of the nearly dozen creatures that didn't make it into the final games.
He does look really friendly.
Also from the first game, we have the Kingpin, a weird brain-creature with spiked tentacles and covered in what appears to be loose skin, and the Charger, a bipedal demon dog whose face would have literally split open to attack you.
"You've pretended to throw the ball while hiding it behind your back for the last time, motherfucker."
The second game left out its share of bizarre enemies, too, and this was a game that includes things like the Stalker, a nude skeletal humanoid with smoothed-over genitals, and the Combine Advisor, a huge, grub-like creature. Left behind were the lanky, vampiric Alien Assassin that had some sort of tubes in its eyes and the Cremator, an eerie trenchcoated creature whose job was to melt organic matter using "acid or plasma" and act as a kind of janitor.
He gets paid minimum wage and hates people who leave dead bodies around.
And Valve's other pants-shit-fest, Left 4 Dead, has some leftover enemies, too. One, the zombie dog, only exists in sound files, but is pretty straightforward. If you've played Resident Evil, you're well-versed in zombie dogs.
No, the real terrifying enemy here is the Screamer, a straitjacketed zombie who cackles everywhere he goes. Basically, the way it would have worked is that when it saw you or your friends, you would have a few moments to kill it before it would begin shrieking loudly, drawing other zombies to you. If a cackling banshee zombie doesn't freak you out at least a little, you are either exceptionally brave or exceptionally psychopathic. Congratulations. Here's some concept art for the Screamer that's still in the game files:
So basically zombie Glenn Danzig.
Since playtesters had trouble finding Screamers in crowds of zombies and/or telling which direction their screams were coming from, the developers scrapped it and replaced it with the Boomer, that garbage bag full of meat and pus and bile that we all know and love.
A Classic Video Game Emulator in GoldenEye 007
Secrets hidden in Rare's classic GoldenEye 007 for Nintendo 64 have continuously crept out since the game's release, like the island hidden in the game's first level. One of the most recently discovered secrets is also one of the coolest -- a retro video game emulator.
Long before Rare made games for Nintendo, they made their name creating games for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum, a computer gaming system that never made it big outside of the U.K. It seems that they either intended to hide the emulator, plus a smattering of their old games, in GoldenEye as an Easter egg or were just trying to see if they could pull it off with the N64's hardware, but it's there either way. Ironically, it's only really accessible if you use a Nintendo 64 emulator.
Real life is just an emulation of another system.
The emulator may have just been a test, because it later showed up in Donkey Kong 64, where part of the game requires you to play Jetpac, a Spectrum game, until you get a certain score. Whether they added that in after seeing that the emulator worked pretty well in GoldenEye or the emulator was intended for Donkey Kong all along is unknown. What is known is that Jetpac definitely confused the hell out of anyone under the age of 25 who played Donkey Kong 64 when it came out.
"People enjoyed this?"
Portal 2 Would Have Had You Meet Cave Johnson('s Corpse)
Valve has another franchise you may have heard of (and whose Easter eggs we've talked about talked about several times) -- Portal. In the sequel, you're introduced to the CEO of Aperture Science, Cave Johnson. And although you hear Cave's voice throughout the game, you never actually see him because he's long dead by the events of the game.
But that wasn't always going to be the case. You may remember that Cave Johnson's assistant, Caroline, had her consciousness uploaded into Aperture's systems (in a cut piece of dialogue that's fairly disturbing) and became the evil A.I. GLaDOS.
Or is she lovable now? Can you be both?
According to script files found in the game's resources, however, there was originally going to be a scene where you came across a decayed corpse hooked up to a computer. The body was Cave Johnson's, and the computer was where his consciousness had been uploaded just as GLaDOS flooded the entire building with neurotoxin.
Since the computer with Johnson's consciousness wasn't plugged in to the company's network, his mind would have been sitting, alone and immortal, for however many years it had been. (Keep in mind that Johnson was already dead in Portal, and Portal 2 takes place an unspecified number of years -- possibly centuries -- later.)
This kinda thing doesn't happen overnight.
Johnson would outright inform you that he's gone insane and curtly ask you to turn off the machine, killing him. GLaDOS, in her potato form, would briefly mourn him and then you would be required to climb over his mummified remains to continue the game. Such a heartwarming and beautiful ending to one of the finest minds in science.
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