Sexalities – Mortal Kombat Series
How do you make an immature, preteen-targeted fighting game even more puerile and adolescent? Gratuitous sex, that’s how! While there never were any “sexalities” in any Mortal Kombat game, at the time it was easy to assume there were. The series had every other type of fatality known to man (Friendship, Babality, Animality), the MK games weren’t known to shy away from exploitative elements, and many of the most rewarding secrets were ruthlessly difficult to unlock (anyone remember how to find Reptile in the original Mortal Kombat?).
However, MK creators Ed Boon and John Tobias were evidently not willing to piss off America’s parents that much, as no sexuality has ever existed in any Mortal Kombat game. The above screenshot is from a fan-made video which can be found here.
The Triforce – The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
One of the few rumors that didn’t require word of mouth to become universally circulated, the potential presence of the all-powerful Triforce in Zelda 64 still irritates some gamers to this day. Even if the above screenshot (taken from a beta version of the game) had not been released months prior to Ocarina hitting shelves, fans still would have torn the game world apart searching for that golden triangle.
And who can blame them? Every preceding Zelda game included the Triforce, and Ocarina marks the first time we find out about its third piece. If anything, Ocarina should have been THE game to include the Triforce. But, alas, its presence in the game is merely symbolic: Link contains the Triforce of Courage within himself, Zelda the Triforce of Wisdom, and Ganondorf the Triforce of power. So while you technically have the Triforce all along, you never get to unite its pieces or keep it as an inventory item. Tough luck!
Lara Croft Nude Code – Every Tomb Raider game since the series’ inception
It may be hard, but try to remember the time when the 32-bit sprite of a buxom Indiana Jones ripoff was the most attractive virtual woman the world had ever seen. In an age of Dead or Alive Volleyball and Rumble Roses XXXXXXXXVIXXX, it may be difficult to comprehend—but that doesn’t make it any less true.
It didn’t take much to incite a worldwide search for the elusive Lara Croft nude code. Just a consistently half-dressed hero, some bored nerds, and an innuendo-laden line whose implications got taken a bit too far: after the tutorial (which requires Lara to swim underwater), Lara says something along the lines of, “Now to get out of these wet clothes…”
Of course, there was no way to see this promised scene of polygonal nudity (we’re talking the pre-Hot Coffee era), but its possible existence made it one of the most sought-after, most widely-rumored game secrets of all time. It got to the point where the developers had to issue a public statement denying the existence of any nude code. But still, hell hath no fury like a nerd cockteased.
Luigi and the Naked Mario Code – Super Mario 64
The first of Mario 64’s two most popular (and false) rumors, that of Luigi’s presence in the game, came more or less naturally to almost everyone who bought the launch title. It’d been a hell of a long time since our last true Mario adventure, and Luigi had been along in damn near every game of the series up to that point: why wouldn’t he be in there? Maybe not as a playable character, or even a supporting one, but he had to be hidden in there, didn’t he?
As it turned out, he didn’t. For whatever reason, Shigeru Miyamoto decided to kick Luigi to the 64-bit curb for Mario’s newest console adventure, but that didn’t stop millions of rabid gamers from trying to unlock the Luigi “secret.” In the end, gamers just had to settle for the appearance of Yoshi (who sits atop the castle and can only be reached after achieving every star in the game), and fan-made Luigi hacks like the one in the above picture
Now, the Naked Mario code was equally rumored, but not quite as sought-after. The rumor was first printed in an issue of Nintendo Power (it is unknown whether the rumor was born there, or simply suggested to the editors through fanmail) and dogged the imaginations of Mario fans for a few good months (with some photoshopped screenshots of a buck-ass nude Mario to help further the illusion). In the end, of course, there never was a Naked Mario code. It was most likely conceived as a parody of the aforementioned Lara Croft Nude code.
Aeris Resurrection – Final Fantasy VII
Ah, the death of Aeris. Has any moment in video game history ever come as close to the shock, the pathos, the sheer tragedy of the moment Sephiroth ran her through with his sword? It’s a debatable subject, but it says something that since the game’s release a decade ago, fans are still searching for a way to resurrect the lonely flower girl.
And to be honest, it’s still unknown whether or not this rumor is actually false. While it’s definitely impossible to resurrect Aeris in any “official” version of the game, there is quite a lot of evidence to suggest that, at one point in FFVII’s development, it may have been a possibility: there’s a lot of unused maps on the later game discs, Aeris is capable of earning an Ultimate Limit Break, you have to make a bunch of decisions concerning whether you prefer Aeris or Tifa, Aeris’s ghost is visible in the Midgar church after her death…while the development team has frequently denied these rumors, there remains an unusually large amount of evidence to support them.
Dam Island, Ourumov’s Briefcase, and Sean Connery – Goldeneye 64
Ah, Goldeneye 64. A decade-old, movie-license game that still manages to remain one of the greatest first person shooters of all time. Not to mention, one of the most myth-laden.
There are several myths surrounding Goldeneye, from the Dam Island to Ourumov’s briefcase, to Sean Connery’s presence as a multiplayer character. And while these myths sparked endlessly entertaining debates during the peak of Goldeneye’s popularity, they can all be explained very, very easily:
The developers got lazy.
The Dam(n) Island was supposed to be accessible by boat in the first level, until the designers decided it would be too much trouble to implement a boat. They scrapped that part of the mission, but left the island there anyway. Ourumov’s briefcase (found in the Silo level) was supposed to contain a key that unlocked a door later in the level, but the door was also left out. Same deal with Sean Connery, and all the other “classic” bond characters that didn’t make it into the multiplayer mode: while they existed in the beta stages, they didn’t make it to the final game (whether due to likeness rights or time constraints is unknown).
Still, though, it’s not as if Goldeneye doesn’t stand in its own two feet without these extra little easter eggs.
MissingNo – Pokemon Red and Blue
In a sense, MissingNo is the only “true” rumor on this list: MissingNo really does appear in Pokemon Red and Blue, and he really can be captured. He is not, however, an officially-sanctioned Pokemon monster, but rather a glitch whose capture will more or less destroy your save data (in addition to giving you 128 copies of whichever object you have in your 6th item slot). The MissingNo hysteria surfaced within the first few months of the game’s launch, as hundreds of overzealous pre-teens attempted to capture this “secret Pokemon.” Many evidently assumed his TV-static appearance and cryptic name were evidence that MissingNo was a secret, all-powerful Pokemon who would be unbeatable in battle.
He was “unbeatable” only in the sense that if you captured him, you essentially destroyed your game cartridge. Whoops!
UPDATED! This was a must add. Sorrrrrry!
Sheng Long - Street Fighter II
Nothing was more profitable for an arcade game manufacturer than the promise of hidden secrets that could only be unlocked after extremely difficult, labor-intensive play. It's why Reptile was so hard to find in Mortal Kombat, and it's why Capcom refused to admit that the character Sheng Long could never be found in Street Fighter II.
The rumor originated in EGM magazine as an April Fool's Joke gone mad: Ryu's victory quote was, "You must defeat Sheng Long to stand a chance." The quote referred not to an alternate character, but was simply a mistranslation of "shoryuken"; however, that didn't stop EGM from creating a fake columnist (W. A. Stokins) with fake tips on how to unlock Sheng Long. Ostensibly, one would have to suffer no damage throughout the entire game, and spend ten consecutive matches with M. Bison without touching him or taking any damage. After the timer ran out on the tenth match, the uber-powerful Sheng Long was supposed to appear and kick Bison offscreen, at which point you would fight him and evidently unlock him as a playable character.
Insanely, a hell of a lot of gamers attempted to perform the required actions to unlock Sheng: EGM didn't expose the lie for a while because it gave them an opportunity to see which competitors would reprint it without permission, and Capcom didn't expose it because they were making a shitload of money from overzealous Sheng Long-seekers. In the end, everybody won!
Except, you know, the gamers.