Hello, and welcome to last week's edition of It's A Secret To Everybody, coming to you here in the FUTURE!
Because I took all that extra time, this should be a real gem, right? Err..... um...... that is to say.... yeah, sure, what the hell, this is the GREATEST THING I'VE EVER WRITTEN.
There's not much to this one, really, though it is pretty damn cool. With Halloween creeping up, let's move onward to this appropriately themed secret.
Zombies Ate My Neighbors, besides being one of the best titles for anything ever, is a top-down arcade-style action game for the SNES/Genesis. You shoot zombies and other typical (and not so typical) monsters and rescue the civilians they threaten for points over some odd 50 levels.
This genre is a great one for people who enjoy secrets. Most of the stages in ZAMN are packed with optional areas filled with collectibles, weapons, and powerups. There's no timer, so you're free to explore the stages at your leisure, assuming you have enough firepower and don't let every neighbor fall victim to the horrible horrors populating the area.
But what am I highlighting here? What in the hell is this "Day Of The Tentacle" secret?
What Is It?
Sadly, it is not the full version of Lucasarts' classic adventure game "Day Of The Tentacle" hidden on a PC in the "Office Of The Doomed" stage (and thus you can't play Maniac Mansion on a PC in Day Of The Tentacle on a PC in Zombies Ate My Neighbors, which would have been the most awesome meta-Easter Egg ever.) But you are on the right track, as this game was in fact developed by Lucasarts.
It's a bonus level where you can attempt to earn some extra points and items, including a 1-Up, which is an exceedingly rare item in this (difficult and long-for-an-arcade-style) game. You play it just like any other stage, rescuing the neighbors to make an exit appear. You don't run across it through normal gameplay, however.
How do you get it?
From the title screen, choose the "Password" option, and enter the password BCDF, the first four letters in the vowel-free password system. You'll hear a tone to confirm, but won't immediately jump to the stage as with other passwords, instead going back to the title screen.
Now choose Start, and you'll begin the bonus level. Upon completion, you'll continue on from the first stage of the game.
How awesome is this secret?
The level itself is short and simple, and doesn't play any differently than the rest of the game. The 1-up is nice, but isn't enough to make it stand out. So why the hell am I writing an article about it?
Purple Tentacle, the main villain from the game Day Of The Tentacle, cameos as the featured enemy in this stage! Yes! The connection is finally established!
Confession time: I've never actually played Day Of The Tentacle. I want to, and this secret only increases that demand. For anyone who has played it, however, I'd imagine this is an exciting little treat, much in the same vein as what Mario fans experienced playing The Legend Of Zelda: Link's Awakening and stomping on goombas with Link.
What I really like about this secret is how perfect this cameo fits into the game as a whole. Purple sentient tentacles without some sort of cephalopod attached are silly and disturbing monsters that could have been pulled right out of any classic B horror movie. What's more, the title of the stage and the game that inspired it fall brilliantly into another part of ZAMN's horror movie motif, which is that every level is preceded with its own title (and sometimes a tagline) mimiciking classic (and not so classic) horror film titles(and taglines.)
The pieces fit together so beautifully, in fact, that I can imagine the whole game came about as an excuse to put this little secret bonus level in it. While that's almost certainly not the case, it's difficult to think that the premise and title of the game Day Of The Tentacle didn't provide some inspiration.
I didn't have a PC in the heyday of adventure games, but for gamers who look back fondly on the days when Lucasarts produced as many original games as Star Wars-branded ones, finding this secret is a one-two punch of awesome.