We are not alone
Discovering a hidden Easter egg or buried secret is one of the coolest gaming experiences you can have. It's a blast--you might even say out of this world. Sometimes it's a real trek, but the reward is usually cool enough to make you want to phone home. Now if I may explain all the alien puns: There are some really otherworldly secrets in some of your favorite games, by which I mean aliens.
Now I have to point out that this list is strictly about aliens, not UFOs or mysterious signals. For games to make they cut, they have to let you actually come face to face with the extraterrestrial--a "close encounter of the third kind," if you will. And sometimes tracking down a gray visitor requires a bit of exploring; it's not always easy to locate our star-cruising friends, but they're out there. For instance
Aliens stranded in the desert (Fallout 3, Fallout: New Vegas)
Fallout 3 offers plenty of alien action with the Mothership Zeta DLC, but that's not my focus here. Wasteland explorers can actually find the mothership landing spot in the main game--a crash site on the north end of the Washington, DC map. Next to the wrecked UFO is a dead visitor. You can't interact with him, but around him lies a powerful Alien Blaster and tons of ammo. Score!
Then there's Fallout: New Vegas, which steps up its alien game with living specimens. If you have the Wild Wasteland perk equipped, you can head just north of New Vegas to find a trio of aliens--and by the way, they will totally kill you. The aliens and their captain fire powerful Tri-beam Laser Rifles, so use caution if you decide to pay these guys a visit.
An alien in the ice (Grand Theft Auto 5)
Grand Theft Auto 5 is packed with Easter eggs--not to mention some UFOs of its own. Smoke a bit of fun fern as Michael, and you can even do battle with invading aliens (newsflash: it's a hallucination). But if you look carefully, you can find an actual, non-hallucinogenic alien in the game's opening moments.
The "cold open" of GTA 5 is a bank robbery in snowy Ludendorff, North Yankton. Like all good robberies, this one ends with a high-speed escape from the cops. But instead of driving across an icy bridge, you can pull over and investigate the frozen water underneath. You'll need to act fast, as getting out of the car quickly ends the mission. Move hastily enough, though, and you can spot an alien frozen in the ice. How did he get there? Why did he come to North Yankton? Who knows, man. Maybe it'll make sense after another puff pass.
Aliens in the outhouse (Outlaws)
Before several actors demeaned themselves for the 2011 movie Cowboys and Aliens, the Old West setting rarely collided with outer space. Outlaws is a 1997 PC shooter, and before you ignore the rest of this entry because you haven't heard of this game, let me say one thing: ALIENS IN THE TOILET. Yep, the same shooter that has hidden dinosaurs and a portal to Hell also hides extraterrestrials in an outhouse.
Said outhouse are in the game's first level. Throw some dynamite into the toilet and it'll explode, revealing a secret passage. Dive into that lovely toilet juice (mmmmm), and you'll sink into a secret tunnel that leads to a UFO under the western town. By peeking through a tiny window, you can spy on some aliens spitroasting a cow before one slams the window closed. I guess beef is a pretty "universal" food then, huh?
Aliens under the sea (Banjo Tooie)
If there's one genre that defines the Nintendo 64, it's collect-a-thon platformers. Titles like Super Mario 64 and Donkey Kong 64 sport tons of collectibles and little knickknacks that open up more levels. The Banjo series is the poster child of this type of platforming gameplay, and if you don't complete several steps--like saving an alien family twice--you'll finish the game, but miss hours of other content.
It all starts in the game's water level, Jolly Roger's Lagoon, where you can find a sunken UFO. Once you obtain the Talon Torpedo move--which lets you rocket forward while swimming--you can enter the sunken space vessel. Power it up, and the aliens can return to their voyage. But here's the trick (because all of that that wasn't weird enough)--if you don't do all of that, the aliens won't show up in the later Hailfire Peaks level, and you won't be able to save their dying alien kids. And unless you're a heartless bastard, you will save them.
An alien with a poopy name (Final Fantasy 8)
Final Fantasy has its share of weird creatures--giant golden chickens, lions with snakes for tails, cactuses with eyes... It almost makes sense that an alien would show up at some point. Oddly enough, this Sonic Adventure Chao lookalike's name is PuPu. Before you ask, he is not found in a toilet like the Outlaws aliens, despite his unfortunate name--but I like the way you think.
There are four special battles you can encounter in Final Fantasy 8--"special" because you'll watch a UFO zip by. Trigger these events in the Heath Peninsula, Kashkabald Desert, Mandy Beach, and Winhill Bluffs, and you'll actually be able to take on the UFO in a fifth encounter. Once it's destroyed, return to the Balamb Garden crater to meet PuPu, the fellow who piloted the UFO. You can give him Elixirs or fight him; the choice is yours. You could eat him too, but that's just...strange.
An alien therapist (Silent Hill: Shattered Memories)
The Silent Hill series is known for many things besides pants-crapping terror. Every game features multiple endings, and most include a ridiculous one involving aliens and UFOs. Unlocking these endings involves a crazy number of steps, but the reward is so mind-bogglingly silly that it's worth the journey. And no journey is as bizarre as Silent Hill: Shattered Memories.
First, finish the game. Simple enough. Now you have to find the United Fruitcake Outlet (UFO, get it?) billboard and call the number listed. Thirteen UFOs then appear throughout the game. Snap pictures of them all, and you'll unlock this absolutely insane ending. Lead character Cheryl Mason becomes a dog, and her therapist Dr. Kaufmann becomes an alien. And the whole thing is done in a low-framerate anime style. Who said Silent Hill can't surprise us anymore?
An alien on the operating table (Surgeon Simulator 2013)
Ah, Surgeon Simulator 2013--a shining example of hilariously floppy controls and the dangers of medical malpractice. Three insane surgeries take your doctoring skills to some crazy places, but there's a secret fourth surgery that takes a lot of fine-tuned skill to unlock. Nope, not careful use of your surgical tools, but punching in secret codes and playing VHS tapes--which, given the control scheme, is as difficult as actually performing surgery.
In the game's zero gravity stage, you can ignore your injured friend and instead enter a secret code on a keypad near the operating table. For some reason, this makes a VHS tape appear on the main menu, and if you jimmy it into your VCR, it'll display a code. Punch this into the same zero gravity keypad, and your new patient will be an alien named Gworb. Now it's your job to transplant alien organs like the gobbleshaft and gavichal--get to it, doc!
Out of this world!
Some believe we're not alone in this world, and we're certainly not alone in the video game universe. These aliens are well hidden, but they're not the only secrets out there. What other creatures have you uncovered in your favorite games? What video game aliens do you like? Let us know in the comments below.