Part 106: Behind The Scenes - The Great Easter Egg Hunt
In an earlier behind the scenes update, I took a brief look at "Easter Eggs" - hidden jokes, references, themes to be found throughout the world of San Andreas. In this update, I'm going to go into further depth on this as a way to show some of the many things it is easy to miss while playing the game, even if you take time out to explore. There are many, many, many, many things that could be regarded as "Easter Eggs" or hidden content, and this will be by no means a comprehensive listing, but it should give you an idea of the scope of detail Rockstar put into their game. Not everything will be specifically an "Easter Egg", some things will just be stuff that is rather neat, or unexplained, or stuff people THINK are Easter Eggs. Some things will be interesting, some amusing, some really amazing and cool and some incredibly lame - I use the words Easter Eggs loosely, as basically a catch-all for interesting "stuff".
We'll start at Grove Street where the game ended. If you'll recall, Tenpenny loses control of his Fire Truck and smashes through the railing of the bridge passing over Grove Street. Once the credits roll and Carl finds himself back in Grove Street, it appears that the City got to work fixing that railing and it's complete again. What you might not know is that the specific section of railing remains destructible at any time, right from the very START of the game. After the very first mission, it's entirely possible for you get into a car, drive onto the bridge and smash your way through the railing. It'll always be fixed a little later, but I thought it was quite neat that something that wouldn't come into play until the very end of the game was available right from the very beginning.
Moving up the road from Grove Street to the Watts Towers, a small red building called the Tiki Theater "Xymposium" promises "Adult xXx Live Naked Girls". That's not in any way an Easter Egg, however the mascot slapped onto the side of the building is, the "Tiki" Statue is in fact identical to the hidden packages collected by Tommy Vercetti in Vice City.
In an earlier mission in better days, Carl, Sweet, Smoke and Ryder were chased by the police across the city until they sent Sweet's Greenwood smashing through a billboard for carbonated beverage "Sprunk", which was promising a "Taste of Things to Come!" If you missed the gag caused by the crash, here it is again, as the sign remains damaged for the rest of the game, hitting you over the head with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer.
Next Carl is returning to the scene of Smoke's death, the Crack Palace we see explode in the final mission of the game. Apparently though the fire did remarkably little damage, as apart from the hole in the wall that Carl made, everything looks remarkably solid.
I'm taking Carl back here not so much because it's an Easter Egg but because it's creepy as hell. This crack palace was a burning, exploding wreck when he left it, but here it stands apparently unharmed. Inside the bodies are gone but the interior remains unaffected, making it seem like any other abandoned warehouse. The creep factor comes in however once you reach the Ballas Lounge. Once it featured strippers, a bar and music to keep Smoke's soldiers happy. The bar is still there obviously but the soldiers are gone, and so are the strippers. However, when you walk into the room where the strippers once danced.... the dance lights suddenly turn on and music starts up, and it all stops the moment you leave the room.
Now obviously the reason for this is that this environment was designed to react this way when you entered it, and after the NPCs were removed from it following the final mission, for whatever reason (probably no one cared) the trigger to kick off the spotlights and music was never removed. There are a couple of other little oversights you could see as amusing or creepy in this building as well. Go through the doors to his penthouse (there's a "Not Welcome" mat outside) and inside Smoke's body is gone but his safe remains.... and his money is still inside.
If you take a closer look you'll see that the stacks of money behind the pile of free bills are actually stacks of $1 bills!
As well as the money, all of Smoke's electronics are still there too, including the speaker system, game consoles, televisions, arcade machines etc. Again the reasoning is pretty straightforward - why build TWO interiors when the player is unlikely to ever return - but if you let your imagination run away with you, it takes on a slightly creepier vibe.
Rest in peace, Big Smoke, you maddeningly endearing fat fuck you.
Inside Reece's Barber Shop, there are five blurry photos lined up on the wall. They're allegedly supposed to be the Jackson Five, but to be honest they're so blurry they could be anyone - after all it's hardly uncommon for a Barber to have pictures of people with different hairstyles on the wall.
Taking Carl through to Downtown, it's time to take a look at a place we only saw fleetingly in the game because a bunch of insane Russians were trying to kill Carl and Big Smoke at the time. In the atrium of the skyscraper in a collection of statues that at first glance aren't anything special, until you look just a little closer.
Oh the shame, the shame of it all.
Equally shameful for different reasons is the Police Impound Lot just across the street. You have to be careful about how you go in since the police don't take too kindly to civilians carrying an assortment of guns walking in of the street. Once inside however, if you're lucky you'll get to see the boys in blue steadfastly going about their duty, protecting and serving the populace from the worst of the worst.
Now sure this might seem a bit much, but tell the truth, if you were walking down the street and you saw a well dressed businesswoman with immaculate hair and $500 shoes coming down the street, are you telling me you wouldn't cross the street or hold your bag a little closer to your side?
That's what I thought.
From very early in the game (as in, from the very start!), CJ can head into the city to Los Santos' tallest building, which is enterable through a yellow marker on the street level. It automatically takes you to the top of the building, where a parachute is waiting for you. At no point in the game is this ever necessary or required or even pointed out, it's just something that is there and fun for you to do.
Next up is the Cemetery where CJ's Mom is buried and CJ and Sweet ambushed Kane from the Ballas. There's a couple of things here, one that can be found at any time and another that only appears at night. Between 20:00 and 06:00 each night, graffiti appears on the wall of the cemetery declaring FAMILIES 4 LIFE, which promptly disappears as the sun rises. Within the same cemetery is a crypt with an open door, inside of which is a chair, empty pizza box and television which is probably a reference to the character Spike from Buffy The Vampire Slayer, even if the game is set long before the character from the television series. And speaking of television, there's even a billboard for a television show we never get to see about two grim, hard-nosed cops who found the criminal.... and then each other!
Candy Suxx as seen in this poster is a "cameo" from a character introduced in Vice City, a porn star who rose up from bestiality films and being a street hooker to the biggest porn star in the world (voiced by former porn star "giant" Jenna Jameson), and she's shown here advertising one of many, many adult movies she has starred in since Tommy Vercetti "discovered" her.
That's just a taster of what can be found in Los Santos, but there is a ton more outside the city, including directly past the bridge leading out past Los Santos Inlet, where one of the more infamous "Easter Eggs" can be found - the suicidal photographer.
The suicidal photographer is an NPC (of varying, apparently random models) that appears at this spot as you walk out of the trailer park by the inlet. They take several photographs of the city, stand up and admire the view, and then promptly walk straight forward into the water and drown.
Perhaps the creepiest part of this is that, in this particular instance, the photographer cheerfully declared to CJ as she walked willingly into the water,"Granpa's taking me hiking this week!"
Hey, here's a floating tree!
On the way through the countryside, CJ passes through an area known as Back O'Beyond, which is essentially an out of the way area of the country where getting stuck without a vehicle means a long hike back to civilization. It's the perfect out of the way place to dump stuff though, and apparently something has been dumped in the muddy water that pools up at the end of a little stream, because things are slightly "off" about it. For instance, the water's surface is flat, objects that enter it appear to disappear, but if you shift the camera beneath the surface it is clearly transparent. What's more, if Carl enters the water, you can see his body beneath the surface from above.... but not any car or bike that is inside the water. What's more, at night a rock sitting at the edge of the water is an apparent light source, casting light about the area for no apparent reason.
Just over the rise from the glowing rock and flat pool is another odd element of this area - the Ghostly Glendale.
The Glendale will drive down the hill and stop, empty of any passenger of driver, a creepy sight at night. Of course the answer is more mundane, as the car is designed to spawn if you are in the area without transport as a way to avoid players getting frustrated with the hike. If doesn't actually "drive" down the hill, but spawns at the top where gravity takes its course, letting it roll leisurely down to the bottom.
So the Glendale will get CJ to Angel Pine, where across the street from the Cluckin' Bell are three trashcans which can be knocked over, revealing that some tourist has passed through town and dumped his maps of Vice City inside. The maps, of course, are those from the Vice City game itself.
A similar callback to Vice City can be found outside the silos between San Fierro and Mount Chiliad. Within the walls are posters of Vice City's box-art, though of such a low resolution that they are almost unrecognizable. In fact, it's easier to tell from further away than it is up close.
In Blueberry there is a liquor store that CJ can enter without a yellow marker, and move through the front and out the back. Perhaps because this is the LEEK-AH store that Carl and Catalina fail to rob, this is considered an Easter Egg, though the only thing remarkable about it is that there is no yellow marker, no attendant, and the front and back door are wide open. Also in Blueberry (and other towns) are stores called "LOCALS ONLY" with the legend "We don't like yur type round here". Some people believe this to be a reference to the British television comedy League of Gentlemen, with its "Local Shop" and catch-cry,"There's nothing for you here!". Certainly it COULD be that, but it could just as easily be a joke about small town ignorance, especially as the store so heavily features patriotic imagery. There's also a building site in Blueberry (and other places) labeled as Avery Construction, which is most likely a reference to the cowboy construction magnate Avery Carrington from Vice City.
Between Blueberry and Montgomery, of course, is Catalina's cabin. It's now deserted, though if you go there at night a light still glows in the window. As pointed out earlier in the LP, to one side of the cabin can be found three filled in graves and a shovel - evidence of the remains of Catalina's former boyfriends/partners perhaps, or just people that pissed her off.... and that was one lady who was easy to piss off.
In Montgomery behind a Betting Shop can be found a bio-waste well surrounded by an easily bypassed chain link fence and warning bio-hazard signs. An odd thing to find behind a betting shop, until CJ looks across the street at the large building taking up most of the block - the Sprunk bottling plant.
Fisher's Lagoon by Palomino Creek is the place shown earlier in the LP where the second "Beat The Cock" Triathlon starts. The triathlon itself is an Easter Egg of sorts, only advertised in game by fliers inside Cluckin' Bell or local Gyms urging people to show up and try to "Beat the Cock". At Fisher's Lagoon is also the mysterious rusty wheelchair sitting at the edge of the dock. It's not clear if this is meant to be anything but creepy or mysterious, but adding to the odd nature of the wheelchair is the fact that it is made from an odd assortment of parts, including the lids from the barrels that have washed up on the shore.
This unremarkable looking rocky hill is called Northstar Rock. It's name is an obvious play on Rockstar North, one of the developers of the game.
There aren't a great deal of "Easter Eggs" in Las Venturas - the video poker machines use character artwork from Vice City for the face cards; there is a Pay and Spray that isn't marked on the map and won't open it's doors; the sex shop features a large chainsaw dildo on one of the desks (and an even larger one hanging from the roof!) and a sign on the door of the video booth warning that if you aren't masturbating, you have to leave.
There are a couple of things of real note in Las Venturas though. One is "Welding and Weddings" (Because they sound similar, explains the sign), which is ostensibly a drive-thru wedding service as Las Vegas is famous for. What they add to the service however are rigged bombs they can weld to your car, than you can prime at any time to go off after a set time.
The other "Egg" of note is "Lemming Tower", a section of the city where - if you stand in the right place in an alleyway - something remarkable happens.
As long as you stand in the alleyway, pedestrians will spawn and walk off of the edge. If you climb over the fence, there won't be any bodies, and no more will walk off of the roof. Jump back over into the alley and they'll start up again. Some people think this is a glitch, but considering that Rockstar North used to be known as DMA who were best known for producing the game Lemmings.... well, yeah.
And in another reference to Vice City (as well as showing the game's take on the Hard Rock Cafe), here is the V-Rock Hotel, apparently named after the V-Rock station that Lazlow worked for in Vice City.
Leaving Venturas for the desert can be found a pick-up truck, deserted under the shadow of a large rocky outcropping. Directly behind it is a large grave, and inside several body bags, apparently full of bodies. This may be a reference to Area 69, or more likely the scene shown in "The Introduction" in which two mob bosses are showing digging a grave for the Accountant that Ken Rosenberg replaces before the events of San Andreas.
In Bone County a very large rock can be found, that some people things looks like a great big rock hard (literally) cock. Oddly enough, almost directly behind it is a giant chicken called Pecker!
There's also a geyser known as "Regular Tom" that is indeed quite regular, constantly shooting hot water into the air. This is also one of only a few places in the game where "pedestrians with cameras" spawn, in case you need extra film.
Here's Area 69 - we saw it in great detail earlier in the LP and it's not worth the 5 Star Wanted Level to go take another look. Suffice to say, it's based on the concept of Area 51, the so-called secret army base where the US Military supposed keeps alien bodies, UFOs and little pills that could drive a car around the world 47 times without stopping.
Here's the Lil' Probe Inn, based on the real life Little A'Le'Inn in Nevada. Inside the inn are multiple pictures of UFOs and other space conspiracy related material. There is also a map of San Andreas.
On the map are markers, this is one of only two maps like this in the entire game. And where do you find the other map?
On the wall in Mike Toreno's Ranch at Tierra Robada!
Apparently though the markers on the map simply point out areas of "historical interest" in the State, and if you travel to the areas marked, you'll find markers or notes telling you what happened and when. I'll leave it to individuals to go and check it out for themselves.
By Fort Cason, running underneath the section of desert where the giant satellite dish can be found is a tunnel that runs directly through the rock. Inside is a police bribe, making it a very handy way to lose police pursuit AND wanted levels.
This next part, however, is where it gets weird.
This is a Cluckin' Bell in Fort Carson, a completely unremarkable take-out joint. However, far above it (far, far, faaaar above it) in the sky - far higher than the character can travel without trainers or game devices - is a yellow entrance marker. If you enter this marker you find yourself inside of a house in the sky. This house is one of many "hidden interiors" snuck around willy nilly all over the place within the game, which is something we will go into greater detail in the final update after this one. What makes this Hidden Interior different, however, is that it is one that doesn't exist as a location from a game cutscene.
And there's..... something..... waiting inside.
Okay, not quite that bad.
Because I don't have a game trainer that would allow me access to this area, I needed to find information online on what is up there, and it's pretty disturbing.
Enter the house in the sky and CJ finds a hallway marked with framed pictures of some of CJ's girlfriends (Katie appears with a mystery man), a pistol, skateboard pick-up (apparently this is a weapon of some sort) and in the kitchen, a massive pile of stealable goods.
And in one of the rooms.... this is waiting for CJ.
The mysterious, faceless black figure attacks CJ on sight, but luckily for CJ can be easily overcome and killed. His body, however, does not bleed, it simply lies there still - maybe dead, maybe not.
A faceless, bloodless figure obsessed with CJ's girlfriends that has waited for who knows how long silently in the sky, now lying dead (or maybe not) on the floor in a hidden house high in the upper atmosphere.
After that, CJ surely feels like some light relief, so here is a look at some of the "odd" things he discovered on his way through Bayside Marina towards San Fierro.
The San Andreas Fault, just like the real one!
Since we're back in San Fierro now, let's go check out Michelle's Garage and see how she's doing.
Well... apparently she's doing just fine without CJ!
The above picture is a triple-header. The Cobra Gym is supposedly a parody of the Cobra Dojo from The Karate Kid, the bike CJ is on is from the NRG Challenge down by the docks and the number is almost always 46 in tribute to Valentino Rossi, and finally.... look at how Martial Arts has been spelt.
This war memorial has an air of dignity and class about it, commemorating the fallen brave and the men who did not make it back. However, at the top of the memorial are a series of graves with a slightly less classy message on them.
But finally we've come to the end of our long, long Easter Egg Hunt. There is more to be seen, of course, but it seems appropriate to end it here at Gant Bridge, where allegedly the biggest Easter Egg of all can be found in the game. This update has gotten far longer than I intended and so there'll be a final, final, final, final update after this one to take a look at the game's hidden interiors, but for now, let's go get that big Easter Egg!
Here we are, CJ has arrived at the top of Gant Bridge, and now it's finally time for him to find IT, the greatest Easter Egg of the game.