Secrets. Exploits. Hidden unlockables. For years, people everywhere have scoured their favorite games in search of whatever might be buried just off the beaten path. Even now, there are players dedicated to checking every inch of the map in Destiny, or every corner of the dungeons of World of Warcraft. Sometimes, they find things that nobody expected. And sometimes, it turns out that everyone was being misled by unfounded rumors that spread like wildfire without anyone actually having proof that what was being talked about was even real. And when that happens, we get some of the craziest legends of video games that a ridiculous number of people actually believed, even though they were never real in the first place. That’s right, every myth on this list is false, but for a while, there was a vast number of people who thought they were true.
10. The Secret Cow Level (Diablo)
The original Diablo takes place in the small village of Tristram, which contains a few buildings, a blacksmith, and an old church that ends up being a multi-level dungeon that leads to Hell itself. Also, there are a few cows scattered around for atmosphere. And because Blizzard loves including little details to amuse people, if you click on a cow, it will moo. Click on it enough, the moo can become slightly aggravated. From something as simple as this came one of the first Blizzard myths in a long history, the legend of the Secret Cow Level. It’s unclear how the myth began, but it became an accepted belief that somewhere in Tristram was a way to access some sort of hidden level, that could only be unlocked by clicking on the cows in some way. Blizzard, for their part, played along, repeatedly denying its existence in any and all of their games while continuing to reference the rumor at every turn (“There is no cow level” is both a Starcraft cheat and a loading screen tip in World of Warcraft). In Diablo II, the Secret Cow Level became reality, as a hidden level full of angry, polearm-wielding cows that could accessed by players who had completed the game.
9. Finding Bigfoot (Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas)
The Grand Theft Auto series is famous for a lot of things, but what we’re focusing on is the gigantic open world full of life, details, and especially hidden content. And in the San Andreas stand-alone expansion, the most popular rumor was the presence of the hairy giant known as Bigfoot. The claim was that you could find the big guy by wandering the forested mountain areas of the game at night, which is a lot harder than you’d think, because those sections of the game were gigantic. However, dedicated players spent hours combing the woods for the mythical Sasquatch, but were eventually forced to declare the entire thing a hoax. Just like in real life! Eventually, one of the developers stepped forward and admitted that Bigfoot could not be found in the game. Fortunately, the modding community stepped up and found a way to insert Bigfoot into the PC version of the game, which was nice of them.
8. Blowing In Nintendo Cartridges
Don’t lie, we all did it. You would pop in a Nintendo cartridge and get nothing but static on the screen, so you’d pull the cartridge out and blow on it, then try again. Sooner or later, it would work and you’d be able to play. Nobody knows where the idea that blowing on cartridges would somehow fix the problem, but it was a common practice for anyone who owned a Nintendo. Of course, it has since been revealed that the moisture from your breath probably did more damage to the metallic elements of the cartridge, and blowing didn’t actually fix anything. All it did was force you to constantly try and re-seat the cartridge properly in the machine, which would eventually connect properly and work. The entire problem was solved when the Super Nintendo was released as a top-loading console, but people continued to try and blow the imaginary dust out of cartridges for years, presumably because it made them feel like they were actually trying to fix the issue.
7. Assemble The TriForce (Legend of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time)
The Triforce is one of the central symbols of the Zelda series, and often finding it is a central part of the plot, which is probably why this rumor persisted for so long. In Ocarina of Time (arguably the greatest Zelda game ever made, although we’ve got some thoughts on that), the Triforce is mentioned often enough that it seems like assembling it should be something that you do as part of your journey. In fact, everyone pretty much believed that was the case, and there was a boatload of screenshots, theories, and walkthroughs that had players trying all sorts of insane strategies in order to unlock the hidden object. Except, despite the Triforce being so central to the plot, there is actually no way to acquire it in this particular game, and Nintendo has said as much several times. It was interesting seeing the ridiculous lengths people would go to looking for it, though.
6. Sheng Long (Street Fighter II)
In Street Fighter II, victorious fighters would taunt their defeated opponents with a variety of boastful phrases. Due to a mis-translation, one of Ryu’s lines was “You must defeat Sheng Long to stand a chance”. As a result, the legend of Sheng Long was created, supposedly a hidden fighter in the game. Gaming magazine Electronic Gaming Monthly perpetrated this cruel hoax on an unsuspecting public as part of an April Fool’s joke, when they ran an article that detailed the character and offered the secret to unlocking him. Admittedly, people probably should have been aware of what day it was, but the Internet was still in its infancy, and we weren’t yet used to every website on the planet running fake news as an April Fool’s joke at that point. Eventually, Sheng Long’s legend was turned into reality, as he was included in Street Fighter IV, using the name Gouken (Sheng Long was considered his “American name”).
5. Find Mew Under A Truck (Pokemon)
Way back when there were only 151 Pokemon and the only games were Red and Blue, Mew was the rarest Pokemon on the planet. The legendary Pokemon from which Mewtwo was cloned, the only legitimate way to have one in your game was through a code that was only handed out at Nintendo promotional events. Of course, nobody believed that Nintendo would deliberately make it impossible to own every single Pokemon, and so rumors sprang up about how to find Mew inside the game, so you could add it to your collection. The most popular one involved a certain truck in Vermillion City, and allegedly required a Pokemon that could use Surf, Cut, and Strength to move the truck, revealing Mew underneath. Of course, none of this was true. Later, a glitch in the game was discovered that actually would allow you to find and capture Mew, but it had nothing to do with moving any trucks and instead exploited a flaw in the game code.
4. Nude Lara Croft (Tomb Raider)
For as long as there have been recognizable female characters in video games, there have been perverts who want to see them naked. And never was this more true than with the release of Tomb Raider, starring the sultry Lara Croft, who was instantly the most attractive video game character to exist up to that point. The developers certainly helped things along by dressing up supermodels as Croft in order to promote the games. And it was really only a matter of time before the rumors spread about the existence of a code in Tomb Raider that allowed you to see Lara Croft naked. Again, this was before the Internet was widespread, so by the time anyone got around to denying the existence of Nude Raider, it had become a commonly accepted “fact” among gamers, so they didn’t believe the denials. These days, obviously, there are plenty of ways to see naked pictures of Lara Croft on the Internet if you so desire, but there has never been any legitimate ways to do so by playing the game.
3. Play As Luigi (Super Mario 64)
Considered by many to be one of the best Mario games of all time, and also one of the best Nintendo 64 games, Super Mario 64 had nearly everything that you could recognize from the Mario series, except for one. Mario’s brother Luigi was absolutely nowhere to be found. Fans decided that there was no way Nintendo would have made such a grievous oversight, and the idea that you could unlock the absent Luigi began to make the rounds. A plaque in the main castle courtyard stating “L is real 2041” fueled a rumor that Luigi could be acquired by gathering every coin in the game (allegedly there were exactly 2041 coins, in reality, there were far more than that). Of course, none of that was true, Luigi is not in the game, and in a clever twist, he got his own launch game for Nintendo’s next console, the Gamecube, which did let you play as Luigi…but not Mario.
2. The Chat Gem (Diablo II)
The greatest mysterious object to ever exist in video games, the Chat Gem was exactly what it sounds like, a small gem that was part of the UI for the Diablo II online chat room. You could click it, and the words “Gem Activated” and “Gem Deactivated” would appear in your chat window in an alternating fashion. But occasionally, if you clicked it often enough, the words “Perfect Gem Activated” (or, sometimes, “Mooo”) would show up instead. Theories abounded for how this affected the game, from increasing your chance of getting better magic items, to raising the difficulty of the monsters, to, of course, opening the Secret Cow Level. In reality, the gem did nothing, and was just Blizzard screwing with players (they would never actually admit that fact, choosing to remain vague and watch the rumors fly). Also, as we mentioned before, in Diablo II, the Secret Cow Level was a real thing that everyone knew how to open, and it had nothing to do with the Chat Gem.
1. Reviving Aeris (Final Fantasy VII)
So, spoilers for a game that came out nearly twenty years ago, but part of the way through Final Fantasy VII, Aeris, one of the playable members of your party, and one of the main figures in the story, is killed by Sephiroth, the villain. Did you spend most of the game up to that point with her in your party because she was an awesome magic user and healer? Too bad, she’s gone, along with any gear she happened to be wearing. However, the fact that she had both an Ultimate weapon and a Level 4 Limit Break, neither of which you’ll likely get to use before her death, and her central importance to the plot, quickly gave rise to the rumor that you could revive her at some point later in the game. It was such a widespread rumor that it was even addressed in the official strategy guide, which informed everyone that there was no way to revive Aeris. The rumor persisted, despite there being absolutely no evidence that it was possible, likely due to dedicated Aeris fans not wanting to believe that she could possibly have been killed off for good. At this point, unless there are plans for the upcoming remake, it is absolutely certain that Aeris is dead forever.