Out of Bounds: Eight Videogame Places You're Not Supposed to Go
North Korea. K2. The Mariana Trench. The globe is dotted with remote regions that are nearly impossible for most of us to visit. That doesn't stop people from trying -- the difficulty of getting there only stokes our desire. Game worlds have their own forbidden locales, and just like on Earth, there are dogged adventurers who insist on seeing them firsthand.
The eight far-off realms in this article exist for different reasons. They could be developer test areas, or forgotten pieces of landscape that somehow made their way into the final code. Whatever their reason for being, they all have one thing in common: They weren't meant to be explored by the likes of you and me. But through persistence, hacks or some combination of the two, you can take in these rare delights for yourself. Pack your bags.
GoldenEye 007: Dam Island
In early betas, the developers of GoldenEye envisioned a sequence where Bond would take a boat to this island at the end of the first level. (Some fans have theorized that this is where you would get the bungee cord for the daring jump that concludes the mission.) That bit of action was cut from the final product, but the island, complete with an observation tower and a sad little turret gun, became a part of GoldenEye lore.
How to get there: Using a GameShark (with the original hardware or in a Nintendo 64 emulator), turn off clipping. Jump off the docks at the end of the level and Jesus-walk across the water to the opposite end of the bay.
What to pack: A tackle box. This is the most quiet area in all of GoldenEye, and there's nothing but water around. The fish should be biting.
World of Warcraft: Newman's Landing
Getting to this remote seaside shanty involves a lot of tedious work with dubious reward, which makes it catnip for RPG players. The landing, which consists of a dock and small shack, was abandoned and eerily empty until a recent patch. Now it's populated by three unremarkable goblins.
Speculation abounds regarding the purpose of Newman's Landing. The most popular theory holds that it's where new Alliance players land briefly to be loaded into the system before beginning the game -- hence "New"-man's Landing. That's probably too cute to be true, but Blizzard ain't talking.
How to get there: Head to the north end of Stormwind Harbor. Hugging the shoreline to prevent fatigue, swim north for approximately forever. Put on some crappy alt-rock and record yourself (optional).
What to pack: The Scooby Gang. Some players claim Newman's Landing is haunted. Zoinks!
Shadow of the Colossus: The Secret Garden
[Mild spoilers ahead.] Apropos of a Fumito Ueda game, the story behind Shadow of the Colossus' secret garden is tough to pin down. Normally, you only glimpse this sun-drenched courtyard during the game's final scenes. Yet a demo distributed at E3 2005 contained a diagonal-jumping glitch that allowed players to find the garden area prematurely and explore it on their own time. Later releases fixed the bug, but explorers found another way to reach the garden.
So is it a mistake, or is it one of the many purposeful secrets that Shadow offers its devoted fans? Either way, this idyllic retreat is worth a visit.
How to get there: On the northeast side of the temple shrine, find a wall covered with ivy. Either use short diagonal jumps to climb, climb, climb to the top or, if your version of Shadow has been patched, jump straight up. In the latter case, though, you'll need to finish the game at least three times to get enough stamina to make the ascent.
What to pack: Potato salad, bologna sandwiches and other picnic fixings. There's fruit in the secret garden, but don't eat it, or your health will be permanently reduced.
Fallout 3: God's Mailroom
PC users get all the fun. If you play Fallout 3 on the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3, you're stuck in the Capital Wasteland that Bethesda wanted you to see. Unlike your PC friends, you can't teleport into the weird developers' test room where, like a scene from "The Matrix," six mailboxes somehow contain every item in the world. Of course, your PC friends are cheating jerks for going there, so there's that.
How to get there: On the Windows version of Fallout 3, enter the text console and type the phrase "coc testqaitems" (without quotes).
What to pack: Nothing. Literally everything you could need will be there.
Adventure: "Created by…" Room
Warren Robinett was a programmer at Atari in the early 2600 era, a time when "development team" meant one guy, working alone. Despite the groundbreaking work done by its solo auteurs, Atari's policy was to deny programmers any public credit, lest they demand a bigger share of the company's zillion-dollar cash flow.
So in his best-known work, Adventure, Robinett created one of the first Easter eggs: a well-hidden room that displayed the text "Created by Warren Robinett," although the real message was, "Up yours, Atari." The renegade coder managed to keep the secret from his bosses until it was too late for them to change the code -- no small feat, considering the entire game fit into a tiny 4K ROM.
How to get there: Take the bracket doodad to a flashing corner where you can pick up an invisible dot thingy … you know what, just do what the dude in the video did.
What to pack: Special brownies. If you think that color-strobing text looks cool sober, try it in a "mellower" state of mind, if you know what I mean. I mean marijuana. Ingest marijuana in some form and then go watch the pretty words. God, I have to spell everything out for you, don't I?
Grand Theft Auto III: Ghost Town
Even in-game movies need sets. The "ghost town" in GTA3 is a group of building facades that appear in the background of an early bank-robbery cut scene. The fake street is hidden behind Shoreside Vale and, while none of the 3-D models are solid, the textures are actually more detailed than the ones used for the game's "real" streets.
How to get there: Fly the Dodo clipped-wing aircraft (it takes some practice, but it's doable) around the hills of Shoreside Vale. You'll have to settle for the aerial view, as there's nowhere to land. For a closer look, PC users can install a mod that adds a bridge to the ghost town and solidifies the buildings.
What to pack: Air-sickness bags. The Dodo's no Gulfstream.
Resident Evil 4: Under the Sewers
This glitch in RE4, which allows you to explore the space below the Spanish sewers, is a fairly common clipping bug. The strange twist is that the bug reveals further ghosts in the machine -- namely, a mini-cut scene that doesn't appear in the normal course of the game. The "lost" footage shows a brief look from a Novistador bug-creature's point of view as it approaches Leon.
How to get there: Stand near the top of a ladder in the sewers after killing nearby Novistadores and draining the water. Get as close to the wall as possible while the "Jump Down" command appears on-screen. Jump down. If you were in the right position, you can pass through the wall in front of you.
What to pack: You're wading through sewer sludge, so a bottle of Purell wouldn't hurt.
DOOM II: John Romero's Head
Do you remember when we worshipped John Romero? Me either. But apparently it happened, as the final level of the DOOM sequel contained a veritable shrine to the game's co-creator. There's even a play-it-backwards-to-hear-the-SECRET! voice clip thrown in there, which is the oldest trick in the book.
How to get there: On the 30th (and last) map of the game, type the cheat code "idclip" while playing to turn off clipping. Walk through the face of the final boss to reveal Romero's head. Yes, you have to cheat to get there. But it's DOOM II. Did anybody play this game without cheating?
What to pack: A copy of Daikatana. Wave it in front of the severed head and laugh. In other words, make John Romero your bitch.
Where have you gone off the beaten path? Share your exotic gaming travelogues in the comments.
Check out more glitchy goodness from Crispy Gamer's John Teti: