Naughty Dog is responsible for creating modern-day classics like The Last of Us and Uncharted, but the developers who built those games grew up as players themselves, harboring a trove of affection for the 1980s and 1990s games they grew up on.
As you might guess, that means a throwback Easter egg or two that shares some love for older games is bound to find its way into present-day titles. Not long after the release of Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, Naughty Dog’s Neill Druckmann told VentureBeat that Nathan Drake’s final PlayStation outing contained at least one fun Easter egg callout to The Secret of Monkey Island — Lucasfilm Games’ 1990 point-and-click adventure that featured a bumbling wannabe pirate by the memorable name of Guybrush Threepwood. But thanks to the power of social media, Uncharted fans are now learning that was only one of many.
Responding to a Twitter request from indie game maker Jan Willem Nijman asking developers to share their favorite Easter eggs, Naughty Dog writer Josh Scherr revealed no fewer than 4 different moments when The Secret of Monkey Island gets a nuanced shoutout in Uncharted 4.
Explaining that the team got permission from Disney to include the references (something Druckmann himself had previously revealed to VentureBeat), Scherr started with the most obvious: a framed portrait of Guybrush Threepwood that Nathan Drake encounters, though Drake takes the wind out of the pirate’s swagger with a dismissive “I don’t recognize this guy” (ouch!)
A little later on in the game, Drake comes across a quartet of statues, and once again, he has no trouble recognizing the characters portrayed by the first three…though he’s still stumped on who this mysterious 4th guy is. “I can’t remember that guy’s name” (double ouch!)
Probably to Threepwood’s relief, the remaining Easter eggs are a little less hard on his outsized ego. There’s a throwaway line of dialogue that calls out a “big, skull-shaped island” — a reference to a memorable Monkey Island landmark — and a moment when Nathan Drake unwittingly channels the psyche of Threepwood himself, remarking that “That is the second biggest cistern I’ve ever seen.”
That’s a nod to one of Guybrush Threepwood’s most persistent quirks in The Secret of Monkey Island: expertly exclaiming throughout the game that whatever his seasoned eyes are beholding is only “the second” biggest thing of its kind he’s seen.
Druckmann confessed to VentureBeat that the idea to pay homage to Lucasfilm Games’ swashbuckling adventure was all his. “I’m a big Monkey Island fan. When there was an opportunity to do it, I asked one of the concept artists to do it. I thought I would just sneak it in there, and then word got out that it was in the game,” he explained. “Then HR came up to me and said we had to get permission for it. We couldn’t leave it in the game. So I thought, dammit, Disney will make us take it out. But we reached out to Disney and they actually said they were flattered, so we could go for it. That was pretty cool.”
Here’s hoping Naughty Dog will be just as flattered when some team of game creators; people raised on Uncharted and The Last of Us, inevitably goes questing for permission to put a Nathan Drake or Joel & Ellie Easter egg shoutout in some future game years down the line. That would be pretty cool — and we already can’t wait to play it.