Who doesn’t like a good videogame Easter egg? There’s nothing like playing a game and discovering some incredible secret you had no idea about, like the sinister messages scrawled on the walls ofPortal’s Aperture Laboratories, or John Romero’s bloodied head on a stick in good old Doom II.
Then there are the secrets that most of us don’t discover, the ones so insanely tricky to find that only a handful of people ever find them on their own. Some secrets were buried so deep into their games they became the stuff of legend, the magical old wives’ tales of gaming – before the Internet came along and made nothing a secret, right? Which I guess makes this article detailing the labors behind seven particularly insane videogame secrets no more than a big fat part of the problem.
Since its release last Friday, thousands of players have struggled to untangle the knotty thicket of puzzles hidden deep within Xbox 360 indie title Fez, the 2D-meets-3D puzzle platformer that drove us batty with its obscure stumpers. Since then, only a few hundred have managed to complete enough of the game’s challenges to reach the 200 percent (yes, 200 percent) completion threshold. That’s an achievement in itself, but until Wednesday, none of those players had actually been able to complete the game’s most difficult puzzle, which involves a black monolith floating inside a hidden underground chamber.
Actually, that’s not strictly true—a small handful of people had unlocked the monolith’s secrets. But those solvers had either stumbled onto the solution without knowing how they had done so, or else a source close toFez developer Polytron had provided the answer. For the rest of the Fez-playing public, unlocking the secrets of the monolith became a project that took a concerted collaborative effort and nearly a full week of focused attention.
Microsoft is ramping up available GamerScore points for Xbox Live Arcade titles from 200 to 400, and to celebrate its launch of the Arcade NEXT promotional jamboree. Starting today, four special titles will be released each week to commemorate a change that will have Achievement hunters cracking their knuckles in glee.
But they shouldn’t be the only ones excited. For a few years now we’ve been kicking up a fuss about the Summer of Arcade, the time of year Microsoft seems to choose to spotlight the very best XBLA games – but this time it looks like it’s coming early. The four games in the Arcade NEXT promotion are all looking full of potential, with one or two of them arguably likely contenders for end-of-year accolades. We preview the four games that Microsoft are collectively calling Arcade NEXT, but maybe it’s best to think of them as 2012’s Spring of Arcade.
Gaming is struggling to find new mascots in the modern age. Seemingly sure-fire winners like Sackboy, the Miis, and Master Chief aren’t capturing people’s imagination (and more importantly their wallets) like Pac-Man, Mario, and Sonic used to. It’s good that games need to do more these days than have a marketable face on their covers, but gaming without mascots is like Uncharted without frail floorboards; it just isn’t right. In an age of reboots, remakes and reimaginations, why try to come up with something new when gaming can offer a litany of old-school heroes who deserve another day in the spotlight?
Here are five of gaming’s most notably forgotten mascots along with suggestions for how they should make their glorious returns to the fore.