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The Top 7... secret rooms in video games

 

5. Sonic 1 (8-bit version)

This is my personal favourite secret room of all time. I didn't even find it myself, my sister did. Sitting in the back seat on the way home from tennis lessons, she said to me 'I've found a room with a little Sonic on TV in it'. I grabbed the Game Gear in disbelief. And there it was - the perfectly executed secret room.

Getting into it is genius. Everyone knows you press right to progress in a platformer, yes? Who would think to press left and jump through the wall? That's just crazy. That's like deciding to drive backwards to work and finding yourself suddenly in Vegas, surrounded by piles of money, exotic fruits and bikini-clad beauties who insist that you lie down.

Then there's the room itself. It is minimalist to the point of art:


Above: There aren't many perfect things in this world. This secret room is one of those things

Honestly, I'm surprised someone hasn't hung it in a gallery as a commentary on Western culture. There's no visible way out of the room. The reward's there if you want it. To break from its oppressive confines you'll need to go back the way you came, man.


Above: "The wall casts a shadow, children, but the item box does not. Is it really there?"

How secret is it? 


Can be seen easily if you've got the shield, as the sprites overlap and glitch out. D'oh.

How roomy is it? 



It's a perfectly-formed room in terms of proportions and regularity. It has walls and a ceiling and a floor... although the shadow cast by the left wall and ceiling implies the 'fourth wall' doesn't exist. Something Sonic acknowledges when he gets impatient, by looking right at you. Spooky.

 

4. Batman: Arkham Asylum

The amazing thing about this secret room is that it remained secret for almost a whole year. In these days of the internet, hacking tools and the like, it's almost unheard of that such a high-profile game could contain a secret for so long. But it did.

The Warden's secret office is hidden behind a destructible wall which doesn't show up in detective mode. Everything else that can be destroyed does, so it's no wonder nobody thought to look there.



What sets this apart from other secret rooms is that it doesn't just contain some power up, extra life or picture of one of the dev team. It contains an 'approved' blueprint for Arkham City, revealing the location of the game's then-unannounced sequel. Magnificent. More like this, please.

How secret is it?


Invisible entrance that requires explosives to unlock kept the entire internet at bay longer than Rooney and the hooker. And he had expensive lawyers and court injunctions to help.

How roomy is it?

It's got desks, chairs, noticeboards… even gothic gargoyle things. It's a proper room such that a person may wish to spend his time in, which has obviously had some thought put into its look and feel. We'd hang out there.


Above: No-one knows how the warden himself got into his office. Now he can use the handy hole in the wall

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54 comments

  • seventhangel - February 9, 2013 9:34 a.m.

    for Skullmonkeys, you should've used the bonus level hidden inside a bonus level, "The Incredible Drivy Finn". Only found by running past the first level exit. Still impressed to see that game in any kind of list.
  • Grivien - January 28, 2013 11:19 a.m.

    The puff-puff thing, lol. I saw the blueprint in Batman Arkham Asylum. But I did'nt look further. I did'nt know it was a whole room! By that point, I'd got bored by the overated drivel, I said frakk this and shortly after I deleted it.
  • murphy341 - November 1, 2010 10:53 p.m.

    That was an awesome article but I really wanted to see "Level 0" from Toejam and Earl included - that was a great secret room!
  • CountZero - October 20, 2010 4:18 p.m.

    The secret rooms in Portal were also extremely cool.
  • SoulFinger74 - October 7, 2010 4:19 a.m.

    I always thought the Level -1 trick in Super Mario Bros. was the better secret. That was a fun one to do on the NES store display ... nothing like a perpetual water world to confuse the staff at Lechmere (RIP).
  • Memph - October 7, 2010 12:49 a.m.

    no romero head even in Doom 2? Blimey
  • ShokuaHyuga - October 6, 2010 7:58 a.m.

    Wow, I stumbled across the warp zone so randomly I never realized it was supposed to be a secret.
  • ScrEAMaPiLLar - October 6, 2010 7:02 a.m.

    Loved the feature. This probably the Crash 3 fan boy in me, but those secret rooms you get after beating the game was just fun to play. I wonder what the discussion for each pick was like.
  • SenatorPepper - October 6, 2010 5:17 a.m.

    I love secret rooms, especially in platformers. I love that feeling that something is subtly wrong with the world, that there are hidden parts that make no sense.
  • Silentboy - October 5, 2010 11 p.m.

    What about the Insomniac Musuem in Rachet and Clank 3 : Up Your Arsenal? It was giant, had vehicles and mini games, but you could only access it on a certain day at a certain time.
  • philipshaw - October 5, 2010 11:39 a.m.

    Great article, the arkham ayslum one is great
  • sleepy92ismypsn - October 5, 2010 8:25 a.m.

    Meh, I haven't played any of these games except Batman Arkham Asylum and I didn't even like that game. Sorry for not reading but at least I left a comment.
  • jmcgrotty - October 5, 2010 7:53 a.m.

    For me, the top is a no-brainer and related to SMB's warp zone. The warp to level -1. The epitome of useless, but who the hell figured that one out?
  • revrock - October 5, 2010 2:57 a.m.

    Donkey Kong 64... the room with an original (and playeble) Donkey Kong arcade machine. I think it is the only way to play the "pie level" at home.
  • Thequestion 121 - October 5, 2010 1:43 a.m.

    Awesome Top 7. I love secret rooms :)
  • batmanboy11 - October 5, 2010 12:46 a.m.

    Good list.
  • deformedorange - October 4, 2010 11:39 p.m.

    I agree with #1 and the zelda one, but Halo Reach????? The tribute room is amazing
  • PushesPaperInACircle - October 4, 2010 11:10 p.m.

    @Ultima, here is a link, you do have to have Serpent's Isle. It was my favorite easter egg from that era.... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xevee872p4w
  • MrSuitMan - October 4, 2010 10:28 p.m.

    Secret Squirrel? That show was awesome.
  • gamefreakl1996 - October 4, 2010 9:50 p.m.

    lol I always use the secret room in mario :P

Showing 1-20 of 54 comments

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