10. Star Wars References In Skyrim

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Just to be clear, like WoW, there are a ton of references in Skyrim. When you are creating an open-ended world with that much detail to fill, it’s only natural that one or two unserious moments will make it into the game. For the creators of massive RPGs it’s probably even a contest, who can fit in the most clever references to other things we all like.

Okay, maybe not, but they certainly don’t miss any opportunities. While playing Skyrim you can go to a cavern called Bleakcoast. Inside you will find a hapless skeleton that has been hung upside down from the ceiling with a sword lying on the ground. You can find a similar skeleton in a cave on Bloodmoon. These are both references to Luke Skywalker hanging upside down in the wampa’s cave in The Empire Strikes Back.

9. Left for Dead vs. Dead Rising’s Zombie Genocide


Nothing wrong with a little friendly competition between two video game developers with comparable concepts.

Supposedly such a rivalry does exist between Left 4 Dead and Dead Rising as the developers play their own game of outdoing the other. In Dead Rising an achievement entitled “Zombie Genocider” can be unlocked once the player had made approximately 53,594 zombies. That’s a pretty freaking huge number of the undead for anyone to kill. Not to be left behind in the game (yes, it’s intended) Left 4 Dead then came out with an achievement called “Zombie Genocide” that required the player of off exactly 53,595 zombies, effectively allowing Left 4 Dead to say that it “one-upped” Dead Rising.

8. Pacman In Wolfenstien 3D


This has to be one of the most unexpected and slightly annoying Easter eggs of all time. You’re playing the third episode of Wolfenstien entitled, “Die, Fuhrer Die!” and you’ve just reahced the secret level. Now being a faithful player you began combing the walls (or referencing a guide) to find the secrets. Like so many times before in this game, one secret leads to another secret. Then you reach a door and you switch to the chain gun because you’ve been in this position before (Hans Grosse waiting for you with his two chain guns).

You hold your breath and open the door… and start laughing. Then before you know it, you’ve died because on the other side of the door is none other than the ghosts from Pacman. Seriously and if they touch you once you die… like in Pacman.

7. Red Dead Redemption’s Man With No Name Tombstone


Of course, an open ended RPG Western made by Rockstar Games is going to invite loads of references from the movies it’s based off, but Red Dead Redemption does it in many clever and fun ways.

The first time you meet the filthy estranged character named Seth, look for a grave around him marked “A Man With No Name”. This is an obvious reference to the Sergio Leone films with Clint Eastwood, but something the gamer would never find unless they looked closely. This is the sort of thing that makes video games great for an RPG player. Discovering the little details of the world inside the game and every once in a while being rewarded.

6. John Romero’s Head On A Pike In Doom 2


The end of Doom 2 is absurdly difficult to say the least. After fighting your way through the multitudes of Hell’s demons in the previous levels you now come face to face with the Icon of Sin. It is a huge demon face that constantly spawns enemies from the game to kill you. Not only does it keep spawning more monsters every second, but there is also only one way to kill it. By jumping on a platform and shooting a rocket at just the right time, three times in a row.

Sound stupidly hard? Yes, it was, but there is another way to beat Doom 2. By using the cheat IDCLIP on your keyboard during game play you will enter “no clipping” mode. That basically means you can walk through walls. If you’re a purist, who thinks cheating is for losers, just know that there are certain parts of Doom 2 that were designed so that they can only be reached with IDCLIP. Meaning if you didn’t cheat you wouldn’t beat the game 100%.

When you reach Icon of Sin by using IDCLIP you can take the space marine through the demon’s head, which reveals the game developer John Romero’s head on a spike. Some evil sounding gibberish is spoken that when played backwards will sound like, “To win the game, you must kill me, John Romero.”

5. Mario’s Appearance In Zelda: Ocarina Of Time


Is Ocarina of Time close to being everyone’s favourite game ever or what? It seems to me that based off personal experience alone there are three types of people in the world. The first are those that played Ocarina of Time. The second are those that played Final Fantasy VII. The third is everyone else that played Halo.

Okay, I’m just kidding, I realize there was quite an expanse of time between the first two and that last one, however there seems to be very few gamers out there who didn’t at least enjoy Ocarina of Time even if they never beat it.

While still a kid, Link has to sneak into the castle courtyard to find Princess Zelda and learn more about the main quest. After talking to her if you look through the window on the right side of the courtyard you can see the portraits of all the characters from Mario64. This is something that is very easy to miss and pretty unexpected the first time I saw it when I was much younger.

4. References To Pop Culture In World Of Warcraft


Like in Red Dead Redemption and Skyrim mentioned before, World of Warcraft reigns king in pop culture references spread throughout its gameplay. From dwarves who quote AC/DC and Mortal Combat to close to a hundred movies and books, it is hard to go anywhere in WoW for too long without encountering one these jokes dropped in by the developers.

There are really too many good ones to list here, and all of them have their merits depending on who you are and where your interests lie. Here’s a complete list of them. Check it out; more than a few will probably surprise you.

3. The Holy Golden Hand Grenade Of Halo 4


The Halo series is also no stranger to throwing pop culture references in during gameplay. Usually they come in the form of random expressions made by the marines or grunts, but sometimes in objects or concepts as well.

Like in Halo 4′s seventh mission entitled “Composer.” After exiting the room with scientists, if the player then turns right into the dead end, Master Chief will find a dead marine in the corner. On the left of the screen there will be a normal green grenade, but on the right there will be a golden one. It even carries the luster of gold about it and can be thrown like any regular grenade, but will appear as a flashing golden orb across the screen before it explodes.

This has everyone perplexed unless they’ve seen Monty Python and The Holy Grail where the knights throw the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch to destroy the killer bunny rabbit. The grenade that the knights throw is also gold in color. Seems like a pretty obscure reference, but I think this one was meant as a slight tip of the hat and to get a chuckle out of a few people who would immediately draw the connection.

2. Duke Nukem Finds The Doomed Space Marine


What truly made Duke Nukem a phenomenon at the time it came out was the personality of its protagonist. No one could get enough of the macho, wisecracking mixture of Clint Eastwood, Ash Williams, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Of course, they unfortunately wouldn’t see him again in a true sequel for years to come.

In the third level of the original game, Duke finds a somewhat creepy chapel that’s bathed in red light and full of enemies. This is pretty close to the area where the pig cops try to execute him by the electric chair. If Duke hits a switch that allows him to go behind the giant wooden cross in the center, he will find a dead marine like the one from the series Doom and will comment, “Hmm…that’s one doomed space marine.”

Duke finding the bodies of characters from other series is somewhat of a running joke throughout all of the games. He also finds Indiana Jones, Snake Plissken, Capt. Picard, and Lara Croft. Duke Nukem Forever continued the running joke as well. This time it’s a space marine from the popular series Dead Space. Duke comments when he finds the headless body, “One dead space marine.”

1. Toad Gives the Finger In Super Mario Bros


Is this for real? Was the friendly, miniature character from Super Mario Bros. actually giving us the finger the entire time we were playing?

It was so small on the screen that no one would have ever been able to tell, but blown up the evidence looks undeniable. Notice the way how Toad is not really smiling. On a much larger screen he looks happy, but when taking a closer look seems to be more smug. The animation of the hands is also very intentional. Two even sides with one finger stuck up in the middle.

Could this be Nintendo’s best kept secret or just a joke they’ve been waiting for the rest of world to get? As ridiculous as it may seem I could totally see a game designer drawing this into Mario. “Ha, by the time they see what we did it will be way too late!”