Happy Easter! While some people will be celebrating by mass consumption of chocolate and some will be celebrating by going to Church, many will also celebrate by looking back on their favourite video game easter eggs. For those that don’t know, an easter egg is a secret in an entertainment product (including video games), often found by going off of the expected path. There have been many brilliant easter eggs over the years, ranging from the Call of Duty: Black Ops series’ running easter egg of the Nuketown Mannequins coming to life to Grand Theft Auto: Vice City’s literal easter egg hidden behind an invisible wall; while I love those and more, my favourite easter egg is that featured in the Ratchet & Clank series called “Insomniac Museum.”
Starting in Ratchet & Clank 2 and subsequently appearing in Ratchet & Clank 3, A Crack in Time and Ratchet & Clank (2016), Insomniac Museum is a secret location that can be found or unlocked that allows players to learn about numerous behind the scenes cuts and changes. While many games have featured behind the scenes displays, Insomniac Museum is so notable because it lets players directly interact with the items. For example, Ratchet & Clank: A Crack in Time’s iteration lets you play a cut hoverboot racing minigame and 3 let’s you battle cut enemies and play cut levels. What also made it great was the way you accessed it; while most of the games provided it as an unlockable, you could also access it by finding a secret teleporter and using it at a specific, late night time. It added a level of mystique and allure to the level that made it more intriguing than it already was.
What gave Insomniac Museum even more personality was the fact that every “exhibit” was accompanied by a small write up by each of Insomniac Games’ main developers, with some games also including a voice over. It reminded players of the humanity behind the programming and allowed players to know the team better beyond a simple listing at the end of the game. Hearing directly from them in a semi-formal manner also made for more interesting insight, as it allowed for brief anecdotes and quips that, again, made the Museum so fun and likable.
As alluded to earlier, the interactivity of the Museum was what made it so memorable. In 2, players could use scrapped vehicles as well as enter an area showing off how angles were done that players could try themselves (e.g. if a surface has a certain degree angle, Ratchet can’t walk up it and will slide down instead – players get to test this directly). 3 takes this further, with the Museum granting players the chance to try out a cut racing track, try incredibly difficult hacking minigames, create their OWN hacking minigames, play cut Qwark Vid Comics and more. That and A Crack in Time’s even had elements of level progression, as some areas of the Museum could only be accessed after completing a puzzle or finding a certain item and using it in a strategic way. It took the idea of an easter egg, merged it with what made the core gameplay so fun and created something special. Ratchet & Clank PS4’s wasn’t quite as unique in that sense as that iteration’s was primarily concept art, but even then it featured the player choice that made it such a neat concept (and Japanese trailers featuring a Ratchet mascot blowing up a child’s personal items, which is just wonderful).
Through and through, Insomniac Museum is an incredible take on the easter egg concept that blurs the line between a secret item and a bonus level. I really hope Insomniac continue doing it in their future titles (Spider-Man included), and I also hope more developers utilise the idea themselves, as it’s an evolutionary idea that deserves more acclaim.
What are your experiences with Insomniac Museum? Do you agree it’s one of the best easter eggs in gaming history, or are you an uncultured tool who has never experienced it? Let me know in the comments or via my Twitter profile @JoshsJots.