Games Within Games – The best video games in other video games

Shortly after the arrival of polygons on the video game scene, many developers began placing “Easter Eggs” in their large 3D games which contained references to their old 2D works and even included entire games to. the occasion.

In an era where companies have been thinking and realizing that gamers will actually pay for these old games separately in non-physical form, this is much less common these days – you’re more likely to find 2D classics bundled together in a collection or in part of a value-added “service” such as Nintendo Switch Online – but in the past we’ve seen some pretty generous examples of in-game play, and we’ve rounded up some of the best examples of original “hidden” unlockable games “in other titles on Nintendo systems.

Obviously, we will stick to Nintendo games below, and we’ve omitted all of the compilations so you won’t find the Japanese version of Sonic Gems Collection (which included the Streets of Rage trilogy), for example. We also took a few liberties for the sake of fun – everything is detailed in each entry. Complaints to the usual address.

So, let’s take a look at some of the best “games in games” that you can find on Nintendo platforms, in no particular order …

A bunch of NES games

Find in: Animal Crossing (N64 / GameCube)

Let’s start with the obvious bleeding. Where the’. In the various versions of Animal Crossing (Forest in Japan) on N64 and GameCube, a whole bunch of Famicom / NES games were available to find and play, including Balloon Fight, Clu Clu Land, a host of Donkey Kongs, Excitebike, Golf, Tennis and punch !!. Some were donated by your animal friends, others were only available through Nintendo promo codes or through the use of the GBA e-Reader accessory. Still others (like Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda) cannot be accessed without using Action Replay.

It’s not a huge collection, but before Nintendo monetized its catalog through Virtual Console, it was a treasure trove of retro goodness thrown away “for free”.

Donkey Kong (Arcade)

Editor: Nintendo / Developer: Nintendo

Release date: July 31, 1981 (United States)

Find in: Donkey Kong 64 (Nintendo 64)

Located in Frantic Factory, Donkey Kong 64 was the only official way to play the original arcade version of Donkey Kong for many years until the Arcade Archives version appeared on Switch. DK64 also featured a double dose of retro goodness in the form of classic Rareware Jetpac in Cranky’s lab.

Three games in one, then. Even with the cost of Nintendo cartridges compared to Sony CDs, you can’t argue about value like that. Bananas!

Original Star Wars Arcade Games

Find in: Star Wars Rogue Squadron III: Rebel Strike (GameCube)

Say what you love about the main game, but the bonus games included in this second sequel to Factor 5’s Rogue Squadron make it a must-have for any discerning Star Wars fan.

Accessible via unlocks or password, Rebel Strike includes the original Atari arcade coins from Star wars, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi to play on your GameCube. Also add the included multiplayer version of Rogue Squadron II and you get an essential purchase, even if the game on the box sucks a bit.

Indiana Jones and the fate of Atlantis

Find in: Indiana Jones and the Staff of Kings (Wii)

The Staff of Kings came out at the height of the “Wii waggle” era and isn’t a classic, but it delivered a relatively satisfying punch of cinematic action and globe-trotting derring-do that has us all. hit squarely in the nostalgia chops. Perhaps the greatest nostalgia success, however, has come from the inclusion of classic point-and-click PCs. Indiana Jones and the fate of Atlantis, complete with Wii pointer functionality.

Accessible once you complete the first level after shooting down four planes (or you can enter a cheat code if you are one of these Cheater S. Cheatsons) this is a fantastic bonus that more than disappoints us from any disappointment you may have with the title game.

Arcade Archives Gradius (Switch eShop)Arcade Archives Gradius (Switch eShop)

Editor: HAMSTER / Developer: Konami

Release date: July 9, 2020 (United States) / July 9, 2020 (UK / EU)

Find in: The Legend of the Mystical Ninja (SNES)

We’re extending the definition of “full game” far beyond the breaking point here, as the Gradius minigame in The Legend of Mystical Ninja on SNES is just the first level of the arcade classic. Yet playing at this level on a huge Konami-branded monitor in the game’s Game Center is too much fun for us not to include it, so here it is!


Find in: Call of Duty: Black Ops (Wii)

Accessible at the terminal by typing ‘zork’, this 1980 text adventure is fully playable as an Easter Egg in COD: Blops and functions as a satisfying reminder of the game’s past and a neat detail, although the dates don’t match the time period depicted in the game. Zork was apparently a top game. secret developed in the early 60s. Considering the various historical leaps and freedoms made in the game, of course – why not ?!

Metroid (NES)Metroid (NES)

Editor: Nintendo / Developer: Nintendo R & D1

Release date: August 1, 1987 (United States) / January 15, 1988 (UK / EU)

Find in: Metroid: Zero Mission (GBA, virtual console), Metroid Prime (GameCube)

As if this remake of the original NES game wasn’t perfect enough, Zero Mission includes the entire original as a bonus emulation to unlock once the game is over. In our opinion, there’s no doubt which version of the game is better, but including both on the basket means everyone is a winner.

Metroid is also unlockable in Metroid Prime by connecting Metroid Fusion to your GameCube via the GBA link cable.

Wolfenstein 3D (ACS)Wolfenstein 3D (ACS)

Editor: Bam Entertainment

Release date: March 31, 2002 (United States)

Find in: Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus (Switch)

Although technically a parody version with bosses and modified elements, Wolfstone 3D: Elite Hans is fully playable in The New Colossus via the arcade machine of Eva’s Hammer bar. This version set in the Wolfenstein 3D universe replaces BJ Blazkowicz with Elite Hans, the Nazi equivalent of a tall, towering and flamboyant protagonist, and adds Terror-Billy and his fellow allies as enemy bosses.

Wolfenstein: Youngblood also offers a sort of “sequel”: Elite Hans 2: Die Neue Ordnung. MachineGames certainly had fun putting together these side games, and it allows for a fun meta-textual break from the fourth wall.

Prince of Persia (GB)Prince of Persia (GB)

Editor: Virgin Interactive / Developer: Broderbund

Release date: Jan 1992 (United States) / January 28, 1993 (UK / EU)

Find in: Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (GameCube)

Unlocked by connecting the GBA version of Sands of Time to the GameCube version via the GBA Link cable, you can play a full port of Jordan Mechner’s original 1989 game on GameCube if you want.

It’s not the cheapest way to play, as you needed a Game Boy Advance, both versions of the game, and the Link Cable. But doable.

Pokémon Red and Blue (GB)Pokémon Red and Blue (GB)

Editor: Nintendo / Developer: Usual game

Release date: September 30, 1998 (United States) / May 10, 1999 (UK / EU)

Find in: Pokémon Gold and Silver (sort) (Gameboy)

The programming sense of future Nintendo president Satoru Iwata meant that Pokémon Gold and Silver included not only the new Johto region, but the entire Kanto region of Pokémon Red and Blue as well.

By doubling the size of the game and adding Pokémon and familiar locations to everyone who played the original game, it really felt like we had two games for the price of one. No wonder some people swear the series culminated in Gen II.


Editor: Nintendo

Release date: October 10, 2013 (United States) / October 10, 2013 (UK / EU)

Find in: Nintendo Switch (firmware version 1.0.0)

Okay, as a game hidden in the firmware, we have another rule ourselves, but we’re on the subject of the great Satoru Iwata and everyone who has had a Switch launch theoretically had access to it – at one point. before connecting to the Internet and updating the firmware of the console, at least – to a special version of NES Golf.

Supposedly included by Nintendo as a ‘charm’ for the new console and a tribute to the Nintendo president who massed in 2015, this hidden game was only accessible if you set the console date for July 11 ( the day Iwata died) and play a Direct to you style gesture with the Joy-Con, a vocal clip of Iwata-san playing and Golf (a game he programmed for Nintendo while working at the HAL Lab) appears.

Easy access? No, but it’s there. Or it was.

Here are a handful of great examples of mini-games and random quirks we couldn’t leave without dropping a mench:

Thanks to Nintendo Life reader Franc001 for this list suggestion! Think you’ve missed an essential game in another game? Let us know below and we might just add it to the list (or give it an honorable mention, at least).