When watching a movie or series, or playing a video game, you sometimes notice something you only could notice through thorough knowledge of the world of the movie or game, keen observation or knowing about other movies or games made by the same people. Or sometimes you can only find it through hard work or reading about it online because people more dedicated than you found out about it. I’m talking about hidden messages, references, inside jokes and the like. Easter eggs. These aren’t even limited to video games or movies, there are plenty of sites that have Easter eggs as well. Google Maps alone has multiple of these when you try to find a specific route, for example, to Mordor. Other times it will require you to take a jet-ski, royal carriage or Loch Ness Monster. You can even go inside the TARDIS. As another example, there’s plenty of websites where you can enter the Konami code (that’s up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A) and it will do… something.
The first Easter eggs in the digital world were usually found in coding. Certain command lines would return a reference to a movie or song. One particular operating system (launched in 1967) would say “not war?” after “make love” was typed and entered. Today, Google is probably the leader in having Easter eggs on all their websites. They even provide that Dinosaur running game Easter egg if you don’t have an internet connection (though it works only on Chrome). Less of an Easter egg but equally geeky, Google did a recruiting advertisement that only said “first 10-digit prime found in consecutive digits e”.com. It didn’t say it was from Google, but whichever programmer found those digits (it’s 7427466391) and went to the website, found a recruitment site for the company. Side note: Steve Jobs banned all Easter eggs from Apple products. Spoil sport. The first Easter egg in a video game was 1978’s Adventure. Going through a bunch of certain steps in the game, you’d wind up in a secret room otherwise inaccessible. The room only contained the message “Created by Warren Robinett”. He was the game’s designer, but Atari (and many other game developers at the time) never credited the designers. This was Robinett’s way to get his name in there. Even if almost no one would ever find it.
These are all examples of software Easter eggs, but there’s some found in hardware too, though less common and somewhat less visible despite it being physical things. Today, it’s mostly chip art: little images, sentences, initials, logos and even photos imprinted on computer chips.
As for video games, you can list a whole bunch of hidden content and collectibles found in one game, referencing games made by the same studio. Some studios do this a lot and continuously, LucasArts possibly being number one in this. As for other examples, when playing “Uncharted”, in every game you can find a “Strange Relic” which is a Precursor orb from “Jak and Daxter”. Both game series are made by Naughty Dog. There is even a reference to “The Last of Us” in Uncharted 3 (a newspaper headline reporting a deadly fungus), a game that Naughty Dog didn’t even announce yet. I’ve recently finished “Final Fantasy XV” and two characters in-game are called Biggs and Wedge, a reference to Star Wars. Every FallOut game is full of references to movies. For example, you can find a skeleton with a fedora in a fridge in “FallOut: New Vegas”, referencing the fourth Indiana Jones film. In the same game, you can find five dogs around a poker table, referencing the famous paintings and two skeletons called Owen and Beru, another Star Wars reference. Another is where you can find a statue of a dog in the game, called Seymour. A bit more obscure perhaps, but it references one of the best Futurama episodes. In “FallOut 3”, the combination to one of the safes is 15, 16, 23 and 42, which are four of the six numbers recurring in “Lost”. There’s a whole Lovecraft story line in “FallOut 4”, as well as a skeleton found inside a wall, a reference to E.A. Poe’s Amontillado story. Hideo Kojima’s Metal Gear Solid series and its way of doing some of the gameplay can be seen as Easter eggs, but being pretty much required to use to progress the game. Think of the Psycho Mantis boss fight where he reads your save file and you need to replug your controller in the other slot to get rid of his control. Or when fighting The End, you can just wait for him to die of old age. Sometimes the Easter eggs aren’t even true, like pushing the truck to get Mew in the first Pokemon game. Or think of the cow level in the first Diablo game, or Sheng Long being an unlockable character in “Street Fighter II”. However, both became (somewhat) a reality when a cow level was introduced in Diablo II and Sheng Long influenced the creation of Akuma and Goukin in later Street Fighters.
Lastly, let’s talk about movies and series. Most of the Easter eggs in these media take the form of in-jokes, jokes only understood by people knowing the franchise well enough, or have a good knowledge of tropes and quirks across other movies and series. For example, in “Community” the word “Beetlejuice” is uttered three times across several seasons. At the moment the third “Beetlejuice” falls, someone dressed as Beetlejuice walks by in the background. Of course, when you never saw Burton’s movie, this will fly straight over your head and even if you have seen it, the joke is so spread out it’s easily missed. Other examples include Star Wars references in Indiana Jones movies and the other way around. After all, Spielberg and Lucas are close friends and frequently worked together. The same goes for Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone movies. There’s also plenty of phrases that keep returning in movies, not necessarily by the same director. “I’ve got a bad feeling about this” is one of the most famous, said in every Star Wars movie multiple times. There’s a whole compilation of “We got company” found on YouTube, though this might be less of an Easter egg and just a standard sentence like “Uh oh” and “Don’t die on me”. Another sound (not actual sentence) frequently returning is the Wilhelm scream, present in every Star Wars movie, Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogy. Or you can think of certain Easter eggs as just goofs. I’m thinking of Eomer losing his sword in “The Two Towers” when mounting his horse, or cameos like Stan Lee in any of the Marvel movies, Daniel Craig in “The Force Awakens” (as a Stormtrooper supposedly called JB – 007) or the real Frank Abagnale in “Catch Me If You Can”. Or cameos of objects, like a coffee cup in every shot of “Fight Club”, the X’s in “The Departed” or how Brad Pitt just can’t stop eating. Perhaps most famously, a lot of Disney movies hide references to previous projects of theirs. You can find Dumbo in “Lilo & Stitch”, Lady, the Tramp and Peg in “101 Dalmatians”, Scar in “Hercules” and Mrs. Potts and Chip in “Tarzan”.
However, Pixar does it even better. “Toy Story” is full of references to “The Shining”. John Ratzenberger has appeared in every single Pixar movie to date, there’s always a Luxo ball found as well as a Pizza Planet truck. Finding these objects alone warrants rewatching the movies time and time again. There’s plenty more Pixar references to look up, so I’ll link you the page here.
Most interestingly to me, there is A113, which was the original starting point of this blog article. A113 is an Easter Egg appearing in all Pixar movies as well as many other animated movies. It first appeared in the Pixar Movies as the license plate number of Andy’s mom in “Toy Story”. It’s a code on a cereal box in “A Bug’s Life” and the list goes on, usually appearing as codes or room numbers. A113 is a classroom number at the California Institute of the Arts, which Pixar head men John Lasseter and Brad Bird attended. Specifically, this classroom was used for graphic design and character animation students. Bird compares this signature work the same as Hirschfeld’s “Nina”. Al Hirschfeld was an American caricaturist, mostly of celebrities. But in almost every single drawing he made, the name Nina is hidden in it somewhere, the name of his daughter.
There is one last “Easter egg” that I want to mention. Edgar Wright is one of my favourite directors of all times and if you have any taste, he should be on your list too. He made three movies that are somewhat linked, being “Shaun of the Dead”, “Hot Fuzz” and “The World’s End”, each tackling a different theme (blood and gore, police and sci fi). Each movie also has a cornetto reference in it, making this trilogy known as the “Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy”. A cornetto appears in every movie and has a flavour linked to the theme, strawberry (red) for “Shaun of the Dead” reminding of blood, the normal (blue) cornetto for “Hot Fuzz” (police, blue, you know) and mint chocolate chip (green) for “The World’s End” because “little green men” are a staple in sci fi. I’ve always wanted to watch these movies back to back with the corresponding ice cream in hand for each movie. Alas, it’s difficult to find a green-coloured cornetto. But I haven’t given up hope just yet. One day.
This blog was brought to you by: Yoko Kanno – Moanin’