From the earliest days of video gaming, when a designer named Warren Robinett hid his name in a secret room of his game Adventure, secrets have been a big part of the medium. Even if Robinett didn't intend for anyone to actually find the pioneering Easter egg, he inadvertently began a tradition that remains alive and well in gaming to this day and has taken many different forms over the decades.
However, for every legitimate secret area and hidden item there is to find in a video game, there are just as many that are complete fabrications. There are enough myths and urban legends surrounding video game secrets that there are entire websites dedicated to them, both to debunk them and also perpetuate them. While these mostly started with video game magazines playing fun April Fools Day pranks on their readers and kids sharing fish tales on the playground, it soon evolved into a whole culture of misinformation about what is and isn't actually hidden within video games.
While there are many legends related to gaming that go beyond the content of the games themselves--the mind-control arcade game Polybius, the haunted copy of Majora's Mask, and so on--this list is relegated to things that people believe to actually be hidden inside video games that have since been officially debunked. Or have they? It's up to you to decide whether or not you want to ignore the concrete evidence that these myths are fake and keep on believing them away.
25 Play As Snake In The Plant Chapter (Metal Gear Solid 2)
One of the most elaborate switcharoos in gaming history was when we unexpectedly found ourselves controlling a character named Raiden--rather than Solid Snake--for the second two-thirds of Metal Gear Solid 2, something that could've only been pulled off pre-social media.
But because so many pre-release trailers showed Snake in the Raiden areas of the final game, people speculated that there must be a way to unlock him for the Plant chapter. People even used those trailers as "proof" of this. Turns out that Hideo Kojima and team just put him into those areas specifically for those misleading trailers.
24 Find Bigfoot (Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas)
As video games creep ever-closer to reality, it's inevitable that real-life hoaxes eventually find their way into virtual worlds. Sorry, Bigfoot aficionados, but yes...we here at The Gamer are indeed taking the stance that Bigfoot is a myth.
Bigfoot also isn't real within the world of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.
The rumors began when supposed in-game photos people had taken of a Sasquatch in the woods of San Andreas began to pop up online. Those turned out to be faked, and any screenshots you see of such a creature are from a modded version of the game.
23 Brutus The Evil Villager (Animal Crossing)
Games like Animal Crossing are fun because they play out differently for everyone. This allows people to discuss the game and ask each other if they've seen this character or that event. You could play the game for months and not experience something your friend has.
Because of that, we get legends like Brutus the Bulldog, who is supposedly an evil villager with glowing red eyes that shows up in your town and wreaks havoc if you don't play for awhile. No such character exists, however--all that shows up when you neglect your town are weeds and cockroaches.
22 The Secret Cow Level (Diablo)
It's one of the funniest Easter eggs in video game history, especially because it eventually became a self-perpetuating joke. But while actual "cow levels" eventually found their way into the Diablo series, there truly wasn't a cow level in the first game despite the rumor mills saying otherwise.
There are different variations on the means of unlocking the non-existent level, but the most common one involves clicking on a specific cow in Tristram a set number of times. Blizzard included the cheat code "There is no cow level" in StarCraft as a fun way to debunk the myth.
21 Unlock Sonic and Tails (Super Smash Bros. Melee)
While the rumors that Sonic the Hedgehog was an unlockable character in the original Super Smash Bros. were pretty far-fetched given that Nintendo and Sega were still rivals at the time, Melee was released in a world where Sega had already gone third-party and was releasing games on the GameCube.
The mocked-up screenshots showing Sonic and Tails in Melee were certainly convincing...but also certainly photoshopped.
Sonic would eventually join the Smash roster for Brawl and Ultimate, but Tails remains a no-show as a playable character.
20 Blood Code (Mortal Kombat, SNES Version)
There are entire lists dedicated to myths and urban legends surrounding the Mortal Kombat series, as the developers have had a lot of fun playing with people's conspiracy theories regarding the franchise. Many rumored characters and features even made their way into future installments.
One MK rumor that hasn't been made real--and can't be made real--is the supposed blood code for the SNES version. We think this one was mostly just wishful thinking on the part of SNES owners who had to settle for the "sweat" and the G-rated versions of the Fatalities.
19 The Golden Warthog (Halo 2)
The civilian-model Warthog, otherwise known as the "golden Warthog," was first seen on a billboard within the world of Halo 2. And with that, players began to speculate that such a vehicle could be located and used, followed by the usual false means of getting the mythical vehicle.
You can't get a gold Warthog in OG Halo 2, but it is available in the Anniversary edition for Xbox One.
It's unclear what players thought was so different about the civilian Warthog beyond its color, but maybe the cool paint job was all that mattered.
18 Herobrine (Minecraft)
It's hard to know what is officially "real" and what isn't when you're dealing with a game that's all about players creating custom content for it, but that didn't stop an urban legend from popping up around Minecraft with a very mysterious character.
The story goes that a Hostile Mob character who looks a lot like Steve started showing up in people's single-player games and would build bizarre structures in their world. All kinds of rumors popped up about "Herobrine," including that he was a ghost infecting the game. As of yet, no concrete proof exists that he is real.
17 Pikachu's PlayStation Hatred (Hey You, Pikachu!)
Back in the days when voice recognition wasn't so advanced that we were able to run every device in our house by simply talking at a robot in the corner of the room, video game companies tried to make games that utilized the then-primitive tech to predictably mixed results.
Hey You, Pikachu! was cute for about five minutes, until you got fed up with Pika not understanding half of your commands.
One thing he definitely didn't understand were the words "Sony" and "PlayStation," despite claims at the time that saying those things to him would elicit an angry reaction.
16 Predict The Future (Fallout 3)
Fallout 3 is a game that takes place in the past, and like a lot of fiction within a timeline that precedes our own, it has a lot of fun with that. For instance, through coded messages, the game pretended to "predict" the passing of actor Gary Coleman.
So, naturally, people started to dig into it even more and some became convinced that the game was also going to predict real things before they happened. However, despite some players claiming to have found more "real predictions," none actually exist, and several predicted event dates have already come and gone without incident.
15 Beyond The Flagpole (Super Mario Bros.)
One thing that younger, post-internet gamers will never know the joy of are the schoolyard legends that would circulate about gaming. Everyone had a friend who knew a guy who did such and such crazy thing in a game, and we had no choice but to believe it.
A classic NES rumor was that you could jump over the flagpoles in SMB and find cool stuff on the other side.
Well, technically, you could jump it in 3-3, but this wasn't intentional and there was nothing of consequence to find. It was a boundary break, not an Easter egg.
14 The Alarus Crypt/Bow Upgrade (Thief: The Dark Project)
1998's Thief: The Dark Project doesn't get as much credit as it deserves for helping to pioneer stealth-based gameplay, which is due in large part to coming out the same year as one Metal Gear Solid.
Those that played the game certainly remember the fabled Alarus extension and the bow upgrade it supposedly contained.
The legend went that a seemingly inaccessible area of the Alarus family crypt could be entered, and upon doing so you'd find a very useful upgrade to your bow weapon. The still-budding internet was full of people all too willing to help spread this fake "secret."
13 Play As Cybil (Silent Hill)
The Resident Evil series was already two games in by the time Silent Hill debuted, and the former had also already set a precedent for multiple playable characters. Given that Silent Hill was RE's closest competitor, it was easy to assume it would follow suit in that way.
People began to wonder about a second playable character after so many items said "Harry can't use this right now."
The obvious candidate was Cybil Bennett, Harry's only real ally. Thus began the rumors, which unfortunately were false. However, she was playable in the Japan-only Play Novel: Silent Hill for GBA.
12 The 17th Colossus (Shadow Of The Colossus)
For as ambitious of a game as Shadow of the Colossus was at the time of its release--a little too ambitious for the PS2, in fact, as evidenced by the unfortunate frame rate at times--it was actually intended to be even more so if the developers had their way.
After the original plan of 48 Colossi was deemed impossible, the number was whittled down to 24, and then finally, 16.
However, not all of the evidence of the deleted Colossi was completely removed, causing people to (falsely) suspect that there was a hidden 17th Colossus to be found.
11 Unlock Simon Belmont (TMNT II: The Arcade Game)
Electronic Gaming Monthly was infamous for its April Fools Day jokes, and even once it became a tradition for the publication, they somehow still managed to fool their readers year after year into spending hours and hours trying to unlock things that weren't actually unlockable.
One of EGM's earliest pranks was a code that supposedly let you unlock Castlevania's Simon Belmont as a playable character in TMNT II: The Arcade Game.
Sure, they were both made by Konami, but in retrospect it definitely should've been obvious that the company wouldn't have cross-pollinated the two disparate brands in that way.
10 The Secret Old Lady (Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2)
Have you ever noticed that, when it comes to capturing footage that proves an urban legend, people suddenly seem incapable of holding a camera straight, or getting video that isn't jumpy and/or blurry?
The fact that no clear, not-videotaped-off-of-a-TV-screen footage exists of the supposed secret old lady in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is a pretty good indication that she's a myth.
Still, the story goes that at a certain point in the game, a crazy old lady will appear in a doorway, yell at you, and then destroy you. Seems legit.
9 Obtain The Triforce (The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time)
The original The Legend of Zelda is built largely around finding the Triforce, as each dungeon you complete gives you a piece of it. It's an object of great importance for the series, and getting it from Ganon or someone else is often the goal.
One of the ways Ocarina of Time broke from tradition in that, at no point during the game do you actually obtain the Triforce. That didn't stop people from claiming you could, and spreading faked screenshots that show Link in a room with a Triforce he's able to reach out and grab.
8 Run Games In "Administrator" Mode (Various PC Games)
PC games are often the source of the wildest urban legends surrounding gaming, simply because PCs allow for so much more tinkering than consoles and therefore have more potential to have things hidden.
A popular rumor in the 1990s was that switching your PC to "administrator mode" and then running games through it would unlock debug modes.
Among the completely untrue claims were that doing this would result in unlimited money in SimCity, access to secret developer-only areas in Ultima Online, and the ability to freely explore the world of Myst with all the puzzles already solved.
7 Unlock Legacy Bonds (GoldenEye 007)
To be fair, this secret is technically "real," it was just removed from the final game. Where the urban legend comes into play is that players could actually access this secret through normal means.
Rare intended on having skins of all of the previous James Bond actors for GoldenEye's multiplayer, and even began creating the relevant in-game models.
Ultimately, this proved to not be worth the licensing headaches, and it was abandoned--but once people found the faces of Sean Connery, Roger Moore, et al among the game's unused assets via the late-'90s version of datamining, a myth was born.
6 The Secret Of The Pendant (Dark Souls)
When Dark Souls creator Hidetaka Miyazaki gave an interview where he suggested that he'd choose a pendant as his starting gift but didn't elaborate further, the game's rabid fanbase went wild with speculation as to what mysterious power the pendant might hold.
All kinds of left-field theories sprang up all over the internet about what power the pendant had, and what abilities it might grant.
Ultimately, it was revealed that the pendant was worthless, as Miyazaki later confirmed that he was only playfully misleading people and that the pendant actually did absolutely nothing.
5 Play As "Doomguy"/Get The BFG-9000 (Duke Nukem 3D)
The Duke Nukem games are famous for poking fun at other franchises, and in a not-so-subtle way. Among Duke's earliest targets was his closest competitor at the time, Doom, and in Duke Nukem 3D you can find what is very obviously meant to the the corpse of Doom's hero.
From this seemingly one-off dig came rumors that finding "Doomguy" and doing a certain sequence of actions would let you unlock him as a playable character, complete with his iconic BFG-9000. If you've seen footage to substantiate that, we assure you it was from a mod and not the actual game.
4 Play As Akuma (Resident Evil 2)
Capcom isn't shy about having its characters cross over into other games--in fact, they have entire series dedicated specifically to that fact. And being that one of the casts they are most eager to draw from and share is Street Fighter's, it might not have been all that hard to believe the April Fools Day joke that Akuma was an unlockable bonus character in Resident Evil 2.
Unfortunately, this was not the case, despite photoshopped mock-ups in magazines at the time. That said, maybe Capcom will make things right with the RE2 remake...
3 Revive Aeris (Final Fantasy VII)
"Why can't I just use Phoenix Down on her?" was the common complaint/joke at the time from players who wanted to undo one of the most devastating character losses in video game history. It was a fair point, though, as FFVII was obviously a world where resurrection wasn't completely unheard of.
And thus began countless completely fake methods of reviving Aeris that circulated on the internet for years.
While it is possible to bring Aeris back by using a Gameshark--though it's a very unwieldy hack with a lot of restrictions--no non-cheat-device method has ever existed.
2 Nothing At All Code (Tomb Raider)
With Lara Croft being video gaming's first true pin-up girl, it wasn't long before she sparked gamers' obsession with trying to see what she looked like outside of the outfit that already left little to the imagination.
It should've been common sense that Eidos wouldn't have put a code in Tomb Raider to remove Lara's clothes.
But again, chalk it up to wishful thinking that so many believed it and were willing to put in the time to try whatever crazy steps they heard needed to be done to achieve an unclothed Lara, all of which were futile.
1 Unlock Sheng Long (Street Fighter II)
This is easily the most legendary April Fools Day hoax in the history of gaming. Back in the early-'90s, EGM published a method of unlocking a character named Sheng Long in Street Fighter II, based on a phrase spoken within the game ("you must defeat Sheng Long to stand a chance").
People spent weeks frustratingly trying to unlock the fake character, but to no avail.
Despite the hate mail, EGM claimed that Sheng Long did in fact exist in SFIII, and repeated the whole trick again. Finally, Capcom had enough and made the fake character real in Street Fighter IV.