If you’ve ever had the pleasure of inserting an old floppy of Jordan Mechner’s classic beat-em-up Karateka into a vintage Apple II, you already know it’s one of the most timelessly classic video ames ever made.
Ever tried inserting the floppy disk upside down, though? If you’re one of the few people who have, whether by accident or design, you’ve experienced one of the greatest and funniest Apple easter eggs of all time: the whole game played upside down.
Here’s the hilarious history of this Easter Egg, courtesy of a profile of Jordan Mechner written by GamesTM:
Karateka would be ported to several other systems, including Commodore 64, NES, and Game Boy, but each was lacking a mischievous Easter egg that Mechner built into the Apple II version. “The programmer doing copy protection for the game figured out that by messing with the bit table, the whole game could be played upside down, which is really hard to do,” he explained at San Diego Comic-Con in 2008. “We thought it would be hilarious if we burned the flipped version of the game to the other side of the disk. We figured of all the people who buy the game, a couple would accidentally put the floppy in upside-down. That way, when that person called tech support, that tech support rep would once in a blue moon have the sublime joy of saying, ‘Well sir, you put the disk in upside-down,’ and that person would think for the rest of their life that’s how software works.”
Stories like these make me really sad that physical media has finally died in favor of digital distribution. There’s just no way to install an App Store app upside down.