all bonds

5 Amazing Video Game Secrets in Retro Nintendo Titles

5 Amazing Video Game Secrets in Retro Nintendo Titles

Video game secrets from an age before DLC – how many of these did you know about?

5. The Chris Houlihan Room in The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (SNES)

In 1991, Nintendo Power magazine reader Chris Houlihan won a competition to have his name featured in the next Zelda game: A Link to the Past on SNES. Details were to be kept a secret until the game’s release in North America, which was the only version the Easter egg would be featured in.

Unfortunately for Chris (and the legitimacy of Nintendo Power’s competition incentives…), the room was practically inaccessible – but a decade after release, methods of entry to the room began to surface.

From the Zelda Wiki:

 It is a failsafe room that the game sends Link to when it can’t determine which room he should be sent to. There are at least five different ways to access this room. One of the most well-known methods involves a series of well-timed dashes using the Pegasus Boots starting from the Sanctuary all the way to the secret entrance Link used to enter Hyrule Castle‘s dungeon the first time. If executed correctly, Link will find himself in the underground room. If Link exits the room, he will find himself outside of his house.

The room contains forty-five Rupees and a Telepathy Tile which reads: “My name is Chris Houlihan. This is my top secret room. Keep it between us, okay?”

According to the Zelda Wiki, the room is present in the Game Boy Advance remake of LttP – but unfortunately for Chris Houlihan, his name has been removed.

4. Developer Rant in The New Tetris (N64)

Whilst working on an N64 reimagining of classic puzzler Tetris, developer David Pridie decided to slip in some “home truths” to the game’s code – assuming they would never likely be found.

new tetris rant

According to a memorial site set up in David’s honour:

At the time he got himself and H2O in quite a bit of hot water with Nintendo. He figured it was his small piece of immortality and that no one would find it for years, if at all.


It took the hardcore gamers about 3 days to find it and post it on the internet.

David had a few choice words for his employers at H20 in addition to the work of some of his colleagues – but he also had a lot of nice things to say about some of them, too. You can read the full rant here.

Some of us worry about doing something embarrassing and it being recorded on Facebook, Twitter or Youtube – but they’re all preferable to an N64 cart.

Seriously, those things are indestructible.

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3. All Bonds in GoldenEye (N64)

GoldenEye features a lot of great nods to classic entries and characters in the Bond franchise. Almost all signature enemies are playable in the multiplayer mode, with two – Baron Samedi and Jaws – even featuring in hidden single-player levels unlocked by beating the campaign on the hardest difficulty. But did you know that the different generations of Bond were also intended to be playable?

all bonds

Picture courtesy of

Models for Sean Connery, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan were all included as playable for the multiplayer mode, but Rare were forced to pull them shortly before release (the photograph portraits were also going to be profile pictures for the file select screen – in the final release, they’re all of Brosnan). It wasn’t until 2005 that hackers over at The Rare Witch Project discovered that the textures for “All Bonds” remained in the game – and made them playable.

Just spare a thought for poor George Lazenby, who played James Bond in On Your Majesty’s Secret Service and didn’t even make the initial cut.

2. Braille Puzzle in Pokemon Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald (GBA)

A memorable aspect of the Pokemon hype in the late 90s/early 00s was the “mythology” of hidden features and creatures in the games – there were plenty of playground rumours about secret methods for catching elusive Pokemon by beating the Elite 4 a thousand times, heading to an obscure location on the map and hitting a certain button combination, etc. Eventually, developers Game Freak decided to implement one of these secrets for real – and made it even more bizarre than those kids could have imagined.

The developers hid three otherwise unobtainable Pokemon in a strange lategame quest which required having specific Pokemon in the first and last slots in your party and performing a series of tasks given to you in visual Braille (…if visual Braille is not a strong point, this GameFAQs guide will help you out). One of the instructions is to wait two minutes without doing anything – another is a series of random button combinations.

At least it wasn’t as esoteric as Fez…

1. ZX Spectrum Emulator in GoldenEye 007 (N64)

Another GoldenEye secret – but this one is even more surprising.

In 2012 – a full fifteen years after the release of the game – hacker spoondiddly discovered a fully-functioning ZX Spectrum emulator and ten playable games buried within the seminal console FPS.

According to spoondiddly:

The emulator started life as a side project to see if Spectrum emulation was possible on N64 and was hooked into GE, the current game in development. It was supposed to be removed before release but was only made inaccessible and inoperable. All the registers, dependencies, and script required to run the emulator still reside in retail GoldenEye carts.

You do need to patch a ROM to get access, but the likes of Sabre Wulf, Knight Lore and Jetpac are all available to play as a reward.

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