Remember the first time you played Super Mario Bros, and you just had to know what was on the other side of the flagpole? Surely there were adventures a-plenty, or at least a castle without some pointless retainer, just waiting for the best gamers in the world to time their leap perfectly and forge new adventures.
Well, we Game Genied that shit and you know what's on the other side? Nothing. A constantly repeating screen of nothing that you can't come back from. It's like a pixilated version of ICP's "Echo Side" where you are trapped until God (You) pulls the plug on the universe (The NES).
However, there are places that gamers were never meant to go that are actually worth the trip. Some you can actually reach via hacks and glitches, some no, but the best backstages in video game history are...
Still one of the greatest adventures of all time, Final Fantasy IV had a band of warriors attempting to stop an evil sorcerer named Golbez from using the crystals that controlled the elements to open a path to ultimate power on the moon. Theses warriors are, unfortunately, really, really bad at this, and pretty much actually make the villain's scheme even easier with each feat of derring-do.
At one point, Golbez is just one crystal short, and hoards them all at the top of the mind-bogglingly huge Tower of Bab-il, which we believe is still the tallest structure in the entire Final Fantasy universe. Our heroes make it all the way to the inner sanctum, they can see the magical glow of the crystals in their shrines, then all of a sudden a trap door drops them all the way back to the beginning of the maze. They decide to give up and go find the last crystal rather than climb all those stairs again...a move we have absolutely no problem with.
Here's the thing. Even though you only see the barest glimpse of the crystal room, it's fully fleshed out, and even has an empty spot where the last crystal will eventually go. What's more, there is a back door to the crystal room, a door that leads to another part of the tower that you can see while exploring normally, but can never get to. You can use a walk-through-walls code to get into the room, but trying to grab a crystal crashes the game harder than Michael Berry into a gay bar bouncer's car. To us that only means that somewhere in the enormous structure there is a path that will allow you to enter from that back door, retrieve the crystals and play a whole alternate-universe version of Final Fantasy IV.
Goldeneye on N64 remains one of the most perfect games ever created, and proof that what FPS fans want is for when we shot someone in the balls, we want them to grab their balls and make a face that expresses their inner monologue of, "Oh no! My balls! Bullets don't go there."
The first level instantly grabs you, and you may be keen to get to the iconic dam, jumping as soon as possible because everyone agrees that that scene is cool as the other side of the pillow. However, if you glance through your sniper rifle out into the opposite direction, there's an honest-to-God supervillain lair that's impossible to reach...without a GameShark, that is. Turn on the ability to walk on water, which officially closes the gap between James Bond and Christ, and it's out to the citadel you go.
Unfortunately, all it does is look cool. A boat was supposed to take you to this side quest, but the programmers ran out of time and cut it before it was done. They removed the boat to keep out trespassers, somehow forgetting that the people who were playing the game were pretending to be a super secret agent who can infiltrate anything.
We don't play Skyrim since like all good siblings we sent our little brother in to investigate and he was never heard from again. Also, we have better, more Batman-related things to do than collect 1,000 troll skulls. Still, there's no denying its popularity, or the sheer amount of secrets hidden in the game.
Until recently, two of these were visible if you climbed to the top of Skyrim's mountains. Off in the distance you could clearly see the provinces of Morrowind and Cyrodil from previous Elder Scrolls games. The discovery sent players into a frenzy, wondering if at some point the areas would be opened up for exploration.
You can actually get into Morrowind through the archway past Stendarr's Beacon. You can't go through the arch, but again, all you need is a hack and there you go. Specific landmarks from Morrowind can be seen on the other side, though the whole thing deteriorates the further in you get.
Unfortunately, Bethesda's Todd Howard has said that the only reason for Morrowind and Cyrodil is literally so you'd have something to see from the highest mountains. They are little more than high-tech matte paintings. However, there is nothing to stop them from building on them in the future, so keep that hack handy. You never know what you might find through the ach one day.
Like Goldeneye, Soul Reaver was a brilliant game that simply ran out of time and space. To this day we still can't believe how much brilliance they managed to stick in a PlayStation 1 title, and the game's Shakespearean scope has been the focus of previous articles.
However, there were two glaring omissions in the game, one obvious and one subtle. The first was that when Raziel visits the human tomb of his vampire brothers, a fifth name, Turel, is visible but no such character appears in the game. Turel was added to a later game, the victim of a time slip to explain his absence.
The other is the human citadel, a giant castle representing the last of humankind in the world. The citadel itself is perfectly accessible, there's even an item you can get there, but such an amazing, detailed structure seems to have no point whatsoever. You can literally never go there and not miss anything.
The reason is that the citadel was to feature a High Priestess as a boss battle. She was cut due to time constraints, and the path to her in the citadel was walled off and sealed. Somewhere on the other side of that wall is the only voice of humanity in the whole game.
Chrono Trigger combined fantasy with time travel and remains unique out of all of the RPGs ever made. Here's to hoping that Nintendo and Square Enix attempt a remake again, this time with actual work involved instead of a straight port with two extra, crappy dungeons.
Behind the counters in the shops of Chrono Trigger are treasure chests, as there are in many other RPGs. And, like other RPGs, most of them are inaccessible, which is fine because the game's code indicates that the recession has hit video game worlds as well as real life and the chests are empty anyway.
Except for one...
In the Truce Inn, the first town in the game, there is a chest behind the counter if you open it with a walk through walls cheat on, containing almost $60,000. It's the only one of these chests in the game that contains anything, and it's the worst kind of taunt. In Chrono Trigger, the game keeps you from having armor and weapons that would make you damn near invincible at that point by offering them only at prices no one could possibly afford. Seeing as how level grinding in the game is much slower than other RPGs because of the battle style, the chances of you earning enough cash for them are slim.
So once again, the saviors of time itself are held back because they can't jump a counter.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.