Ever since the first video game was created, developers have been hiding secrets in their games in hopes that even the most dedicated gamers wouldn’t find them. Here are 10 of our favorite secret levels from video games.
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night : Inverted Castle
After completing a whole laundry list of tasks, including collecting a pair of glasses and defeating an orb, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night pulls the rug out from under your feet. All of a sudden, the ENTIRE CASTLE is upside down. Although technically this isn’t a separate level, you can explore the whole castle upside down- nothing is off limits. This took a huge effort and a lot of foresight on the parts of the developers and is one of the coolest secret levels/easter eggs out there.
Diablo II: The Cow Level
Regardless of what any Diablo II developer will tell you, there IS a cow level in their game. In order to get to the Cow Level (aka Moo Moo Farms), the player has to combine Wirt’s Leg and a Tome of Town Portal in order to open a portal to the level. The green level is filled with Hell Bovine, a herd of heavily armed demon cows, and their leader, the Cow King. A visit to the Cow Level was a great way to farm (GEDDIT? FARM?) experience, and once it got out that there was a Cow Level in Diablo II, many a player made a visit to Moo Moo Farms. However, to this day, Blizzard still insists “there is no Cow Level.”
Dark Souls 3: King of the Storm
Holy. Crap. This guy is absolutely insane. Considered to be a secret boss (read: non-essential to the story but very hard to get to), the Storm King is arguably the most difficult enemy in Dark Souls 3. After ringing the bell by the Great Belfry on Archdragon peak, the Storm King flies in on his wyvern and proceeds to absolutely beat the living daylights out of the player. If you manage to slay his wyvern, he will jump down and fight you one on one. At this point, his name changes to “Nameless King.” Then he continues to beat the pulp out of you.
Super Mario 64: The Princess’s Secret Slide
Super Mario 64 is chock full of hidden levels and cool stuff- this is one of three secret levels in the game. Inside the castle and behind a 1 star door there are two identical stained glass windows- the one on the right leads to this secret level. In it is a MASSIVE slide covered in coins. This slide raises questions, though- what does Peach need this freakin’ huge slide for? Is it an escape route? Does she just really like big slides? I’ve had these questions since I first played the game as a kid and this level remains one of my favorites to this day.
Doom: Original Missions
My favorite easter egg out of this year’s games was Doom’s original missions. There are 13 secret levers hidden within the Doom reboot, and each one of them opens the entrance to a secret, retro mission. After each mission is found and completed, they are available from the start menu. This easter egg was a blast for me- I never got to experience the original Doom, so I had a lot of fun blasting my way through the old levels.
Dying Light: Mario Level
Hidden in the sewers of Dying Light is this absolute gem of a secret level. If you can find the green pipe hidden on a roof in Old Town, you’ll be greeted with this recreation of level 1-1 from Super Mario Bros. – complete with Zombie Goombas! Even better, inside that same sewer, you can find the blueprint for the “Pyza Suit.” This suit lets you soar around the world of Dying Light just like Mario after picking up a Tanooki Leaf.
Crash Bandicoot Warped: Hot Coco
This one caught me COMPLETELY off guard- I was playing the dirt bike level (Road Crash) of Warped. I crashed into a road sign with an alien on it and BAM- I was in a different level. This secret stage lets you ride a wave runner as Coco. Just like the secret slide, this level is also a time trial. You start right next to the explosive-laden exit and have to find the switch to clear the path back to the regular levels of the game.
Borderlands 2: Minecraft
Deep in the Caustic Caverns, there is a secret Minecraft themed area- complete with creepers and blocks to smash. After defeating the wave of creepers that swarm you as soon as you enter the area, there is some pretty cool loot lying around. My personal favorite is the Minecraft head customization. Although it is pretty tough to find and pretty far (20+ hours) into the game, I highly recommend checking this one out. Borderlands is known for their easter eggs and this is definitely one of their best.
Adventure (Atari 2600): Developer Room
This screen from the Atari 2600 game Adventure is heralded as the FIRST ever secret level. For that reason, it deserves a spot on this list. Adventure was published back in 1980 when game developers weren’t supposed to take any credit for the games they produced. Warren Robbinett, the man responsible for Adventure, didn’t like that. He went behind the backs of his superiors and stuck his name deep within a secret level of his game.
Super Mario Bros. : Minus World
Minus World. This is by far one of the most recognizable secret levels in gaming, and may be the most famous secret level of all time. Minus World is a single level that was supposed to be marked 36-1, but is displayed as -1 due to a glitch displaying the number. The level is an exact copy of level 7-2, except that the pipe at the end of the level (shown above) is glitched and sends Mario back to the beginning of the level. This effectively dooms Mario to death by timer countdown or enemy- there is NO way out.