01/04/2010 16:22 | By Nik Taylor, Tech & Gadgets

Great gaming Easter eggs

Hidden features, levels and surprises - better known as Easter eggs - can be found in almost every game going. Here are 10 of our favourites

Our favourite gaming easter eggs, including cowboy hats in Gear of War 2 (© Microsoft)

There is more to many games than meets the eye. Almost every game you've ever played will have some kind of hidden content - or Easter egg - squirrelled away somewhere. Some are fairly easy to find, others require hours of advanced button-mashing and a bucket-load of luck.

Once you dig one out, you'll find it contains anything from the names of the game's developers to an entirely new level. Below are our 10 favourite Easter eggs to be found in video games, starting with the earliest of them all. If you know of a great one that's not featured here, do let us know about it on the message board.

Sega Master System (© Rlan)

Adventure - The first Easter egg
Way back in 1979, Adventure became the first action-adventure game to be released on a console (the venerable Atari 2600). It also contained the first game-based Easter egg, a secret room containing the words 'Created by Warren Robinett': the game’s designer. 

Sega Master System - Maze game
If Santa forgot to pack any cartridges with your Master System in Christmas 1986, it wasn’t a problem. At first glance, the early versions of this classic console had no built-in games. However, there was actually a cunningly hidden maze game. To get to it, you just turned on the machine and held the 1, 2, and up buttons simultaneously.

Mortal Kombat logo (© Midway)

Mortal Kombat - Taking on Reptile
Reptile was a super-tough opponent who was almost as hard to find as he was to beat. When fighting on the Pit stage, you had to keep an eye on the moon in case a shadowy object flitted across it. If that happened you then had to win your match without getting hit or touching the block button. That done, you got to take on Reptile. 

Dopefish easter egg from Daikatana (© Eidos Interactive)

The Dopefish - Fishy fun
The Dopefish is a buck-toothed, dim-witted cartoon creature that first showed up in an old PC game called Commander Keen IV. Since then, it has taken on almost legendary status, appearing in the background of games such as Max Payne, Hitman 2 and Quake. Check out 'The Jacuzzi Job' mission on Hitman 2 to see it making a cameo as a desktop toy.

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (© Rockstar)

GTA San Andreas - Hot coffee
Surely the most controversial of all Easter eggs – the Hot Coffee mini-game could only be unlocked by downloading mod files for the PC version, or fiddling with the save code of the console version. Once accessed, the mini-game allows the player to step inside with CJ whenever one of his lady-friends invites him in for 'coffee'. Sadly, no Barry White soundtrack included.

Age of Empires III - Bacon bomb
Here's a great example of a comedy Easter egg in an otherwise straight-faced game. In Campaign or Skirmish mode, head to the chat screen and type 'Ya gotta make do with what ya got' (without the quote marks). Doing so gets you a Mediocre Bombard which fires devastating exploding pigs.

World of Warcraft (© Activision-Blizzard)

World of Warcraft - Do the funky chicken
WoW is packed with Easter eggs, but this remains a bit of a classic due mainly to its sheer pointlessness. As an Alliance character, head over to Saldean’s Farm in Westfall. Pick yourself a likely looking fowl and perform a chicken dance for it using the /chicken command. You’ll have to do this many, many times in a row, but eventually you’ll get the Cluck! quest. Once completed, you receive your very own pet chicken.

Bowling in Wii Sports (© Nintendo)

Gears of War 2 - 10,000 gallon hat
You might think you've cleared everything Gears 2 can throw at you, but until you've seen a Corpser rush you wearing a giant cowboy hat, you are but a noob. To unlock this unlikely egg, you must crank the difficulty level up to Insane and take on the early chapter Rolling Thunder. Now, make sure you're packing your pistol and shoot out the three partially hidden cowboy hats. You'll hear Dizzy cheer 'yee-haw!' and see every character now sporting a fetching stetson - even the giant enemies.

Just Cause 2 screenshot (© Eidos)

Just Cause 2 - get Lost
The developers of Just Cause 2 have really gone to town with their Easter eggs, but there's no doubt this is the best. Get hold of an aircraft (any type will do, but it looks best in a plane) and head for the island at the top-left of the map. As you get closer, the sky will darken and a lightning storm will kick up. Pass over the island and your aircraft will suddenly burst into flames - forcing you to parachute out and land on a perfect replica of the island from Lost.