When it comes to video games, the rumor mills are constantly churning out ridiculous theories about secret metaphors hidden deep within the games by clever developers. Although most of the time these rumors are dismissed as merely over-imaginative analysis, occasionally we come across claims that are so convincing that they beg for an official confirmation or debunking. Here are 14 such game myths that actually turned out to be completely true.
Long before the internet was around to confirm such things, video game secrets were passed down from one gamer to the next in the schoolyard. One of the most popular ones from the early ’90s is the story of a secret character in Mortal Kombat named Reptile, who could only be challenged by fulfilling a specific set of parameters. To fight him, players had to decrypt hints and perform a double flawless victory. Finding and defeating Reptile became a rite of passage for kids to hold over their less skilled classmates, and even though this easter egg was one of the earliest to be demystified, it remains one of the best gaming myths that ended up being true all along.
Due to the very public behind-the-scenes feud between Hideo Kojima and Konami, it’s often overlooked just how great Metal Gear Solid V turned out to be. That being said, it’s true that MGS: V’s story is a bit lacking compared to its more narrative heavy predecessors, but the game’s secret ending almost makes up for this. Or at least it would, if it wasn’t nearly impossible to find.
Thanks to the work of data miners, it was discovered that MGS: V has a hidden ending (as well as a bunch of unused missions and dialogue that paint a picture of The Phantom Pain being rushed to meet a deadline). Indeed, the secret ending even has a cut-scene that shows what effect nuclear disarmament would have on the world. The problem? The only way to unlock the ending is for every player to give up their nuclear options at the end of the game and the odds of that happening are just as low as actual full nuclear disarmament becoming a reality.
12. Hidden Photo of Rebecca Chambers in Resident Evil 2
The early Resident Evil games were subject to all sorts of ridiculous rumors back in the day, such as being that you could play as Street Fighter characters or unlock a first-person mode (sorry, both have been debunked). Another myth is that you could play as Rebecca Chambers, a character introduced in the original Resident Evil, in Resident Evil 2. While Rebecca wouldn’t become playable until Resident Evil Zero, RE2 does have an Easter egg related to the character.
If you go to Albert Wesker’s desk and search it fifty (50!) times in a row, you’ll discover a photo of Rebecca in a basketball uniform. It’s unclear why Wesker would be hanging onto such a thing but then, who are we to question the motives of a former cop-turned-supervillain who faked his own death and gained superpowers along the way?
11. Hell Valley Shadow People in Super Mario Galaxy 2
Super Mario Galaxy 2 is a whimsical adventure, with Mario being whisked off to wondrous locations full of delightful platforming sections and adorable space creatures. However, there is a sinister force hiding out in the far reaches of space that is actually creepy as hell and has become an urban legend among Nintendo fans. As it turns out, there’s one level in Super Mario Galaxy 2 that is hiding a disturbing secret in the form of some shadowy figures standing on the fringes of the level.
When you reach a certain spot in the Shiverburn Galaxy and look up in first person mode, you can spot three figures standing on the edge of the map. The game never acknowledges them but one curious fan actually sifted through the game files and discovered that the sky pattern for the area is called “BeyondHellValley,” which is strange considering the name of the level is not “Hell Valley.”
Even weirder: those mysterious figures are referred to as “HellValleySkyTree.” Now, it could be the case that Hell Valley was the original name for the level but it doesn’t explain why those things are called sky trees. They aren’t trees, Nintendo, they’re vengeful spirits from beyond the grave!
10. Atari Buried Thousands of Unsold Copies of E.T. in the Desert
E.T. is one of the most iconic and acclaimed science fiction movies of all time. However, the video game that the movie spawned is often cited as the most awful piece of digital “entertainment” ever sold.
The developers at Atari were forced to meet an insane deadline that gave them only six weeks to deliver the game, and, although it initially sold well due to the huge success of the movie, once people realized how bad it was they began returning copies and demanding refunds on a massive scale. To make matters worse, Atari also produced way too many copies, which left them with an inventory surplus they had no idea how to get rid of.
Years later it was rumored that the company dumped them all in a landfill, but people found it hard to believe that Atari would resort to such a drastic measure, and so the story was mostly dismissed as nothing more than an urban legend. But it all turned out to be completely true as evidenced by the 2014 documentary Atari: Game Over in which a crew discovered the landfill and dug up crates of dusty old E.T. cartridges.
9. Hidden Scarface Homage in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City is actually crammed full of references to the movie Scarface. The Vercetti Estate is loosely based on Tony Montana’s mansion, the Malibu Club is very reminiscent of the Babylon Club, and several of the outfits you can acquire in the game resemble suits worn by characters in the movie. As players began noticing more and more similarities, a rumor spread that you could locate the apartment where Tony’s friend meets a gruesome end via chainsaw, but for a long time no one could figure out where to find this supposed Easter egg. However, the persistence of gamers prevailed and it was eventually revealed that if you drive to Ocean Beach and go to Apartment 3C you’ll be able to enter the building where you’ll find a bloody bathroom and a chainsaw which you can add to your weapons inventory. The apartment has no impact on the story or any of the missions, it’s just another nice Scarface tribute.
In a lot of FPS games, the pistol is the first gun you start out with and the first gun you’ll ditch when you need to free up your inventory for new weapons. Of course, the one very big exception to that rule is the M6D Personal Defence Pistol from Halo. Not only does the pistol have pinpoint accuracy, it’s also incredibly powerful, which led to griping from many players who felt the weapon was overpowered and upset the balance of the game. Over time, a rumor grew that Bungie co-founder Jason Jones had increased the power of the pistol just before the game shipped, and, in a 2013 interview, Jones finally ‘fessed up and admitted that he did just that.
According to Jones, many of the developers felt the pistol wasn’t quite at the level where it needed to be, but since the game was so close to being released, no one was very willing to go in and start messing around with the code. That is, no one except for Jones, who ultimately decided to adjust the code for the pistol resulting in it becoming one of the best weapons in the entire Halo series.
Ever since it was revealed that Birdo is a transsexual, people have been combing through the Super Mario games in an effort to find other shocking details and hidden conspiracies. For instance, in Luigi’s Mansion for the GameCube, there’s an urban legend that if you go to a certain room, stand in a specific spot and wait for lightning to strike, you can see what appears to be a shadow hanging from the ceiling, making it look like Luigi had just committed suicide.
Though there is some debate about what the shadow actually is—some claim it’s a glitch, while others say the game was originally meant to be much more macabre and this is just one of the many remnants that lingered from an earlier version—the simplest explanation is that Luigi was actually a ghost from the start and never realizes it. While some would say this is really just a glitch and doesn’t actually mean anything, Luigi’s Mansion becomes a much creepier experience if you accept this myth at face value.
6. All of the Actors Who Portrayed James Bond Were Originally Supposed to be in GoldenEye 007
Given that GoldenEye 007 is one of the most influential first person shooters ever, there are a lot of people who poured countless hours into the game trying to unlock all the bonus characters and hidden cheats. The “All Bonds” cheat first came to gamers’ attention as part of an April Fool’s joke published in a video game magazine. The gag claimed that if you met a very specific criteria before completing a level you could unlock the Sean Connery, Roger Moore and Timothy Dalton versions of James Bond in multiplayer. But whoever came up with the joke probably didn’t realize how close to the truth they actually were. As it would happen, Rare initially wanted to include the different versions of Bond in multiplayer, but, for various reasons (like not having the rights to use the likenesses of the actors), they removed the feature. Proof of this can be found buried deep within the game’s code; however, Rare removed the ability to access it.
5. Half-Life 2 Originally Featured a Killer Sex Monster
Half-Life 2 has more than its fair share of crazy monsters that will try to kill you any way they can. There are goo monsters, tentacle creatures, and who could forget those iconic alien Headcrabs? But there was one enemy concept that the developers felt was perhaps just a bit too bizarre to make it into the game. Dubbed Mr. Friendly and seen in early build’s of Half-Life 2, this up close and personal enemy would attack you by dragging you off into a dark corner and then copulating with you…to death.
The idea that this monster was essentially raping the player to death was definitely a disturbing idea, which was exactly what Gabe Newell was trying to get across. He figured that players would be so unsettled by the method of killing that Mr. Friendly would instantly become one of the most memorable enemies in the series. However, perhaps it might have been a little too unsettling for other interested parties because Mr. Friendly ended up being cut from the game before its official release.
In Braid, you play as Tim, a little guy with time-reversal powers out to find a missing princess. But although the game plays like a fairly straightforward platformer, the story and themes hint at a much larger and unusual story; one that can only be understood after collecting seven stars that are hidden throughout the game’s five worlds.
After collecting all seven stars, which are almost impossible to obtain without the help of a guide, everything remains the same until you make it to the end of the game. Normally, the ending of the game shows you helping the princess escape from a bad guy, but then it turns out you’re watching the situation in reverse and she’s actually trying to escape from you (because it turns out you’re not a very nice guy). However, once you have the hidden stars, the level is subtly changed in such a way that you can actually catch up to the princess and touch her. But doing so causes her to flash rapidly until and you hear the sound of nuclear explosion.
Apparently, the entirety of Braid is meant to be a metaphor for the creation of the atomic bomb and how its creators might have wished they could go back in time to undo all the damage it caused. Of course, that’s so far removed from this colorful run-and-jump game that it really proves how out there some of these conspiracy nuts are. The game’s epilogue even features a quote from Kenneth Bainbridge, the head of the Trinity atomic bomb tests.
3. Michael Jackson Composed Sonic the Hedgehog 3‘s Soundtrack
For years rumors have been flying around that Michael Jackson had a hand in putting together the music for Sonic the Hedgehog 3. It all started when people began noticing that there were some striking similarities between the pop star’s music and certain tracks in the game. One fan even created a perfect mash-up of the Sonic 3 ending credits music and Michael Jackson’s “Stranger in Moscow.”
Due to a number of complications, Sega remained tight-lipped about the whole thing for a long time, but it was eventually confirmed that Jackson did have an involvement with the game. However, apparently a lot of the work he did for the soundtrack was heavily altered following the allegations of sex abuse made against him in 1993. Nevertheless, prominent Sonic 3 developers have claimed that Jackson actually completed the full soundtrack, but he was unhappy with the sound capabilities of the Genesis and so he decided to remain uncredited.
2. Super Mario Bros. 3 Was All Just a Stage Performance
If you’ve ever played Super Mario Bros. 3 you might have noted that it seemed to have a number of interesting theatrical themes. The game opens with a curtain raising on a backdrop, objects cast shadows on the sky, and at the end of the level the set ends as you exit stage right. These details led fans to formulate the theory that none of the characters ever experienced any real danger in the game because it was all part of an elaborate stage performance. The theory was certainly a compelling one, but it seemed more likely that people were just over-analyzing the game rather than it being something that Shigeru Miyamoto and company actually had in mind when they designed Super Mario Bros. 3. But last year, on Nintendo’s UK Twitter, Miyamoto addressed a handful of Mario myths, including the question, “Was Super Mario Bros. 3 all just a performance?” His response: “YES.”
A lot of gamers are only familiar with Earthbound because some of the characters appear in the Super Smash Bros. games—they’re those cute stumpy little guys who fight with bats and yo-yos. But Earthbound is actually a fantastic RPG for the Super Nintendo where four kids try to save the world by battling things like robots and giant bugs. It’s only in the final stages of the game that things take a turn for the weird and some very bizarre details are revealed. First, the kids get their souls ripped out and transferred to robot bodies. Then, when you reach Giygas, a malicious alien who serves as the game’s final boss, things start to get really disturbing.
Giygas’ first form sort of resembles a set of female reproductive organs, and, once you start fighting, he transforms into what looks like a group of deformed fetuses. The widely accepted theory is that, in order to defeat this alien bent on destroying the world, the characters in the game must travel back in time to the point where it’s at its weakest, i.e., when it’s still a fetus. So, essentially, the game is about Ness and his friends performing the most elaborate abortion ever conceived. Of course, it all makes a lot more sense when you take into account the fact that Earthbound is a sequel to a game that was originally titled Mother in Japan.