While you stuff yourself with various forms of nourishment and search your home for various colored eggs packed with deliciousness, reminisce with us about some of the best easter eggs in fighting games. While DLC and competitive play have made unlockable characters less common, there are no shortage of sweet hidden bonuses throughout the history of our genre. These are just a small sampling of the gems tucked away within some of our favorite brawlers.
Akuma in Super Street Fighter II: Turbo
One of the most badass and beloved Street Fighter characters of all time, Akuma’s first appearance came in Super Street Fighter II: Turbo upon clearing the game in a specific manner. Even better, he was unlockable for those nimble enough to input his code at the select screen. Akuma is far from a secret in today’s games, as some of the best Street Fighter 4 and Marvel vs. Capcom 3 players in the world still main him.
Mortal Kombat Hidden Kharacters
The MK franchise has become just as famous for its hidden treasures as it is for its brutal combat ever since the first incarnation of the game. From Reptile in MK1, to Smoke in MK2, to a whole trove of ninjas such as Ermac and Rain in UMK3, some of the most popular Mortal Kombat characters of all time began as easter eggs that inspired entire groups of friends to crowd around an arcade cabinet in an effort to unlock them.
What’s even better, Netherrealm Studios kept the tradition alive in last year’s Mortal Kombat reboot. Classic Smoke could be seen poking his head out as you fought in a haunted forest, much like he did in Mortal Kombat II. The original forms of Noob Saibot, Reptile, and Jade were also fightable under the right conditions, which made for a supremely satisfying throwback to the days where in-game technology was discovered via word of mouth, as everyone mashed away at MK at your local pizza parlor.
King of Fighters XIII Backgrounds
See anyone familiar?
While there are few hidden characters and unlockable items in SNK’s fantastic King of Fighters XIII, the amount of fan service tucked away in every background is through the roof. Whether it’s KOF 94′s Team USA hanging out at the factory stage, Samurai Shodown’s Haohmaru kickin’ it at the AoF Temple, or the Bernstein family getting to business on Sky Noah, almost every stage of KOF XIII is sure to bring a smile to the face of any diehard SNK fan.
You must defeat Sheng Long to stand a chance!
And finally, one of my favorite easter eggs: The one that doesn’t exist! Ryu’s Street Fighter II win quote of “You must defeat Sheng Long to stand a chance” had troves of arcade dwellers pondering, “Just who is Mr. Long?” While “Sheng Long” was simply a mistranslation of Ryu and Ken’s signature dragon punch, many fans believed it was a person who trained the karate duo. Electronic Gaming Monthly decided to capitalize on the speculation for their 1992 April Fool’s issue, falsely revealing that Sheng Long was an unlockable character in the game. While EGM became the subject of many a fighting game fan’s rage, the community’s scars were somewhat healed when Gouken, the real master of Ryu and Ken, was included in Street Fighter 4, bearing a similar appearance to the mysterious Sheng Long that sent players scrambling 20 years ago.
And that does it for us. Whether they were near-impossible unlockables or just rumors that got taken too far, easter eggs are a staple of the genre that we would love to see more of nowadays.
What are some of your favorite fighting game easter eggs?