Secret levels in games are incredible, aren't they? Remember the incredible feeling of finishing a game and catching wind of a fresh reason to jump back into it? Like finding a forgotten Crunch bar in the bottom of your backpack level of INCREDIBLE!
But out of the thousands of games to have secret levels lingering away within their code, the vast majority of them are all special and exciting in their own way, which makes this kind of list crazy difficult to put together.
So, reader, this is why I've thrown together a very subjective list of some of my favorite old-school games — because who doesn't like a dusty secret and a challenge, huh?
Alright, LET'S GO:
1. Hell Nazis
From: Doom II: Hell On Earth (1994)
If there is indeed a hell, it would make sense that you'd probably find yourself shooting at Nazis in it, or so is the moral of these two awesome secret levels in the seminal Doom II. When you're traversing Map 31's industrial zone, the game will prompt you to a secret location where you get given the chance to send the blue-clad SS officers from Wolfenstein 3D to an even deeper level of hell. If that's even possible.
2. Fighting Reptile
From: Mortal Kombat (1992)
Possibly the first secret character in PvP fighting games, Reptile was a brilliant secret addition to the Kombat that started it all. Used to popping up before a fight would begin, and posing like Sub-Zero, Reptile offered the gamer a shit ton of little hints of how to get to grips with him.
Clues like "alone is how to find me," and "perfection is the key" tell the player that a flawless victory in a single-player game would be two parts of the road to traverse in order to fight this monstrous amalgamation of Sub-Zero and Scorpion.
3. Totally Forked
From: Earthworm Jim 2 (1995)
Or a.k.a "Forked," depending on which region you picked the game up in, this atypically batty Earthworm Jim 2 secret level had you navigating the titular hero across streaks of bacon, avoiding that fucking salt shaker and, of course, all the numerous forks that fancied impaling your bendy buddy.
4. The 4th Survivor
From: Resident Evil 2 (1998)
Not to be confused with that level where you had to navigate your way through hordes of the undead as a knife-wielding piece of tofu, this particular secret level put you in the boots of Hunk, a lesser-known Umbrella operative who has to escape Raccoon City with a sample of the G-Virus in his clutches.
Only catch, though? Getting to grips with this mission meant finishing both Leon S. Kennedy and Claire Redfield's missions with an A grade. Challenge accepted!
5. Aztec Temple
From: GoldenEye 007 (1997)
This one might come as a surprise to a fair few gamers, seeing as you could only enter the Aztec Temple after beating GoldenEye 007 on 007 Agent difficulty, which is the most difficult task to ask of even the most skilled 11-year-old. Once unlocked, Aztec would seek to best you entirely, with AI that was smarter, quicker and harder than before, and a face-off against who other than that giant, toothy bastard, Jaws.
Oh, did I mention you got to dual-wield two Moonraker laser pistols? Worth it!
6. The Secret Cow Level
From: Diablo II (2000)
This beautiful level was only accessible after finishing the entire game, but on any old difficulty! So that's nice. If you fancied taking on the Cow King and his army of hellish bovine badasses, you'd have to create a portal by combining Wirt's Leg and a Tome Of Town Portal with the Horadric Cube while loitering in the Rogue Encampment.
If you managed to pull that off, then you get teleported to the home of the Hell Bovines and introduced to a grinding level of infinite proportions! As long as you don't actually kill the Cow King.
7. Star World
From: Super Mario World (1990)
Oh, Super Mario. How you spoil us with your numerous and varying lost and secret levels. This time though, it's SMW's turn to quite literally shine as its super-secret Star World is brought into focus.
Star World is actually a succession of levels, all with their own unique missions, bonuses and, amazingly, different-colored Yoshis! You can also use the Star World to access other levels without slogging and backtracking through the other worlds.
So, there you have it! My pick of a few of my favorite secret levels in games. The only question left now is: