July 3, 2009 2:00 PM | Eric Caoili
In an engaging retelling of his time at Atari, former programmer (now a principal software engineer at Microsoft) Landon Dyer revealed that there was a yet-undiscovered Easter egg in the Atari 400/800 version of Donkey Kong. Though he described the hidden message as "totally not worth it", the fact that he couldn't remember how to bring it up anymore surely compelled a few gamers to try and find it themselves.
Sixteen months later, Don Hodges has posted details on how he uncovered the Easter egg (displaying Dyer's initials), though he didn't find it after suffering hundreds of playthroughs. Rather, he activated the game's debugger and sifted through over 25,000 lines to find the relevant subroutine.
According to Hodges, of all the game hacking he's previously done, this find was the most rewarding and enjoyable for him. Here are his instructions for bring up Dyer's initials:
1. Play a game and get a score of 33,000 through 33,900. This score must become the new high score.
2. Kill off all of your remaining lives. However, your last life must be killed off by falling too far - by walking or jumping off a girder that is too high to land safely. If the last life is killed any other way, the egg will not appear.
3. Set the game difficulty to 4 by pressing the Option button 3 times. The icon for this difficulty is a firefox.
4. Wait a few minutes, and the demo screen where Kong jumps across the screen will appear.
5. The title screen will then appear, and Landon Dyer's initials [LMD] will be at the bottom center of the screen.
"I’m totally impressed," said Dyer after reading about Hodges' accomplishment. "And no, getting the Easter egg to pop up still isn’t worth your time…"