I love Easter Eggs. However, there’s no particular Easter egg that excites me as much as finding a game inside of the game I’m currently playing. Anyone that’s played the recently released Fallout 4 knows exactly what I’m talking about. There are a handful of games that can be played on your Pip-Boy in the latest installment of Fallout, re-skins of old classics with some new school difficulty pumped in. Red Menace serves as an anti-communist Donkey Kong style game, while Grognak and the Ruby Ruins is reminiscent of old text based games mixed with NES style fantasy adventures. The point of this is that it got me thinking of other great game within game secrets, and so here’s my top ten.
- Bizarre Jelly 5 from No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle
Bizarre Jelly 5 is a top down, vertically scrolling shooter very reminiscent of Capcom’s 1941: Counter Attack. Only, instead of planes and bombs, and the whole aerial assault theme, you play as one of five over sexualized anime avatars killing a variety of crazy space monsters. There is nothing else that can be said about this without playing it. So basically, it fits right into the whole motif of No More Heroes like a glove.
- Beetlemania from Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars
Much like the last entry, Beetlemania is a shooter, only side-scrolling this time instead of vertically. This is a fun little Easter egg for a few reasons; the most obvious being the pop culture reference to the Beatles. Another is that the world background changes depending on what character you put into the middle slot of your team, with the level designs being a mash up from Super Mario World and Yoshi’s Island. If saving princesses becomes too stressful, at least you have Game Boy now.
- Maniac Mansion from Day of the Tentacle
Have you ever played a sequel in a series first? It’s always a little confusing and irritating, trying to find where the plot ties in and what exactly you missed. Fortunately, Day of the Tentacle overrides all of that nonsense by letting you play its predecessor, Maniac Mansion in its full entirety. Now the only thing you have to worry about is your companions wondering why you’re sitting at Weird Ed’s computer re-hashing your last adventure while you should be saving the world.
- QUB3D from Grand Theft Auto IV
QUB3D is a deceivingly simple game. At first glance it’s much like Tetris or Puyo Puyo, and just like both of those titles a fair amount of strategizing is needed in order to be a master of this game. As you progress on, more colored blocks are added which gives you more to juggle, and with the way the blocks tumble down the stack like a Slinky, being able to judge your next moves can get complicated. Trust me; QUB3D is not for the faint of heart.
- Zork from Call of Duty: Black Ops
Not to be callous to any of the Call of Duty fans out there, but by the business logic of how those games are pumped out, you wouldn’t expect a whole lot of thought to be put into one before it goes out. It would seem that I was proved wrong in the case of Black Ops though, and pleasantly so. At the title screen of Black Ops you can break out of your restraints, go over to the nearby computer and play the whole 1977 text based adventure Zork before you even start a campaign of Black Ops. One point to you Call of Duty.
- Geometry Wars from Project Gotham Racing 2
You know that you can bank a lot of success on your mini game when it becomes its own game. To Project Gotham Racing we can tip our hat, because that’s exactly what they did. Geometry Wars was conceived to be just a shooter game to test the Xbox controllers, Bizarre Creations put it in Project Gotham Racing 2 without much thought, just to see how the audience would react. I’m pretty sure no one expected it to blow up as much as it did, but it went on to spawn a sequel and break away from Project Gotham altogether. The sheer popularity and break out ability of Geometry Wars is one of the reasons it propelled so high on this list.
- Lost Viking from Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty
Yet another shooter, Lost Viking, does something that none of the other shooters on this list has done; seamlessly blend the world of the core game into the mini-game. Lost Viking has you facing off against Protoss, Zerg and Terran enemies as you try and get your lost Viking home. Something that is all too familiar in the actual game of Starcraft. Another cool fact about Lost Viking is that it’s a throwback to the 1992 Blizzard title, Lost Vikings.
- Sega Games from Shenmue
Easily the coolest thing about the arcade games you can play in Shenmue is that some of them were created by the same creator of the Shenmue itself. Talk about good product placement! In all seriousness though, for being the most expensive developed video game of its time (1999-2000) Shenmue pulled everything off flawlessly, and that includes the 6 games available on the side. Darts 7, Hang On, Space Harrier, QTE Title, Excite QTE 2 and Neo Darts are all Sega classics waiting at your fingertips; if you have the appropriate yen of course.
- Arcade Games from Bully
Bully does arcade games in the same fashion that Shenmue did, the only difference being that the games for Bully were developed for the sole purpose of being played on Bully. Consumo, Nut Shots, Monkey Fling and Future Street Racer were the different flavors available and each one did a very good job feeling like an actual arcade game without being an outright rip off of any particular existing game. On top of that they were all quite challenging given that they were just mini games. For the amount of effort Rockstar Vancouver put in, I give them extra credit. No pun intended.
- NES Titles from Animal Crossing
You know what’s better than having a game, or even a few games, within a game? Having an entire library of titles inside of a game. It may not seem as impressive as it was then, but put yourself back in 2001 when Animal Crossing came out. It was a pretty big deal then. Especially given that there are a whooping 20 different titles of games to play. 15 came standard on the disc, games like Excitebike, Wario’s Woods and Donkey Kong. With the E-Reader it got even better, because then you could also acquire big name titles like Legend of Zelda and Mario! Despite how good any of the other entries are, they can’t boast what Animal Crossing did at the extent that they did it, and that’s why I give them the number one spot on this list.
Think there are any games hidden within games that I’ve missed? Let me know what your favorites are and how they rank up to this list!