Sometimes, we may stumble across them by pure chance, or after pulling off some ridiculous requirements. Regardless, secret levels in video games are usually a real treat, since they tend to allow the developers to go all-out with their ridiculous ideas. You’d be lucky to find another game that lets you swim through a giant toilet to kill aliens, or sneak past guards with no clothes on. If that sounds weird enough, then prepare yourself and read on…
Fun Park | Command & Conquer
Command & Conquer was a game that put the real-time strategy genre on the map, though it was none too easy. The same can be said about its nightmarishly difficult add-on The Covert Operations. What the packaging doesn’t tell you, though, is that it also contains a mini-campaign called “Fun Park”. Your enemy consists of dinosaurs. Most of them are pretty slow, but they can take a lot of damage. In the final mission, you can even command an army of the prehistoric creatures, too.
Obviously, this is a parody of the hit-novel “Billy and the Cloneasaurus” by Seymour Skinner, which in turn was shamelessly plagiarized by Michael Crichton.
The Ratacombs | DUSK
It’s safe to say that DUSK may be one of the best throwback FPS titles to date. Its quick-paced combat, unsettling atmosphere and slick controls have earned it Overwhelmingly Positive reviews on both Steam and GOG. But if there’s one thing that players really hated, it was the rats. These ugly little freaks seem to do massive amounts of damage. So, what did David Szymanski decide to do for the game’s third episode? Make a level filled with them, of course!
The Ratacombs is actually inspired by a level from Planescape: Torment, albeit mirrored. There’s 137 rats in it, not to mention a giant one named One as Many, which is a boss. It’s accessible via the level ‘Crypt Of The Flesh’, where you must smash down a wall with a bar of soap and flush yourself down a toilet, because… reasons. And hey, speaking of toilets…
Urea 51 | Duke Nukem 3D (Sega Saturn)
Duke Nukem 3D is an FPS that’s chock-full of violence content, dirty jokes and movie references. It was so popular that it’s received numerous ports to various consoles ever since its release. The Sega Saturn port in particular was home to one very bizarre mission that was not seen in any other version of the game. Urea 51 is a dull, linear and ugly map that has you riding on conveyor belts and crane claws.
To round this stinker of a level off, Duke must jump into a giant toilet floating in space, filled to the brim with green liquid, before making his way down the pipes to the exit.
The Coliseum | Quake (Sega Saturn)
Lobotomy Software’s 1997 Sega Saturn port of the world’s first fully 3D FPS Quake featured an exclusive secret map (much like their port of Duke Nukem 3D). The Coliseum is a very small level that contains a wrestling ring in a hall. A monster will spawn inside of it; you’ll need to choose a tougher monster to fight on your behalf. Three victories in a row will open the exit.
After each round, the victor will attack you. You can either kill it, or hide from it until it disappears into thin air (think of it like a surprise heel-turn). In any case, the quickest way to win is to choose the bullet-spongy Shambler and let it clobber the enemy until the match is over. There’s no reward for beating this stinker of a secret level, but at least it’s more entertaining than watching a WWE pay-per-view.
Rat Hunting | Theme Hospital
In this critically-acclaimed business simulator, you need to cure numerous, quirky illnesses that countless patients are suffering from, in hopes of making major profits. You’ll receive special updates regarding quizzical conundrums, research updates and other important nuggets of information in a separate menu via fax machine.
However, if you press 7287 on the machine before completing the current level, you’ll be warped to a special mission that’ll put your sharpshooting skills to the test. You’ll need to plug all the rats infesting the halls of an empty hospital before the handymen clean up the rubbish. It’s tricky, but you’ll be granted some weapons to get the job done… including bombs!
Pac-Man | Wolfenstein 3D
id Software’s revolutionary first-person shooter may be dated by today’s standards, but back then, it was like no other game on the market. It was a Nazi-killing gore-fest that ran really smoothly on PCs back in the day.
Within the stone-filled walls of Castle Wolfenstein lies a secret level infested with the ghosts from Pac-Man. As goofy music plays, they will slowly follow you through the maze-like mission, ready to rapidly chew away at your health bar. All you need to do is grab as many goodies as possible before resuming your hunt for Hitler.
Strange how they never mention this in the history books, eh?
Bad Dream | Master Levels for Doom II
id Software was sick and tired of no-name companies cranking out unofficial map bundle packs for their slobberknocker-of-a-shooter DOOM and its sequel back in their heyday. Consequently, the company released 21 challenging levels created by some of the best map makers from the community at the time.
One of the maps, The Express Elevator to Hell, actually featured a secret level that the boys at id never actually discovered. Bad Dream is made up of two small rooms and an enormous circle filled with 34 Cyberdemons. Not only is ammo scarce, but the centre of the circle will activate a slow-moving crusher that’ll squash the enemies, and you if you’re not careful.
It’s big, ugly, and certainly lives up to its name.
Panzerknacker Unleashed! | Medal of Honor: Underground
Once you liberate Nazi-occupied France as the badass French Resistance member Manon Batiste and earn every medal possible, a top secret mission will be yours to play. A German scientist’s creations have gone haywire, and have taken over the castle in which he resides. Expect knights, dogs driving half-tracks, zombie SS troops with exploding heads, and 6-foot tall nutcrackers with bazookas.
The final mission is a mad rush to the exit through armies of enemy nutcrackers armed with MP40s and anti-tank weapons. Thankfully, you’ll get a bit of help from your very own mechanical ally, called Panzerknacker, who will help you escape the castle in one piece and live to tell the unbelievable tale.
Streaking Mode | Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance
Remember near the end of the stealth-action title Metal Gear Solid 2, when you had to guide a naked Raiden past a squad of highly-agile guards? In the VR missions, one secret mission has you slipping through enemy defenses while stark naked once again. That means you won’t be able to use any weapons, either.
Streaking Mode is made up of five consecutive stages that must be completed in one sitting; once you win one, you’ll teleport to the next. If you’re caught, you need to beat that level again to progress. Don’t feel too comfortable, though, as there’s a timer. It’ll continue to count down, even if you get caught. If it hits zero, you’ll need to repeat this humiliating mission from the start.
Out of this Dimension | Star Fox/Starwing
With planet Corneria under attack by the army of the mad scientist Andross, General Pepper sends off team Star Fox to thwart the invasion. However, did you know it’s possible to take a one-way trip through a new dimension?
After entering Route 3 and proceeding to Asteroid 2, a meteor will appear on the far right. If you blow it up, an egg will crack open to reveal a bird. After rushing into it, Fox and his plucky allies will be warped to a strange world full of paper aeroplanes and wobbling planets with creepy faces. A gigantic slot machine will even appear, spinning its slots and spitting coins. By shooting the buttons and scoring a trio of 7’s, the credits will roll, gigantic letters spelling “THE END” will appear, and the level will loop.
To summarize, Fox and his team are permanently trapped in a goofy dimension forever, and Andross is able to take over Corneria with little resistance. That’s pretty dark…
Which are some of your favourites? Be sure to let us know!