Ten April Fools’ Day Jokes in Gaming
Don’t be fooled!
Keeping with tradition, April first of every year is the time where video gamers can no longer read blogs or watch their favorite videos because they’re full of lies and jokes. Of course I’m talking about April Fools’ Day, and for the past couple decades many video game developers, news publications, and even video games themselves have taken the opportunity to trick their fans into thinking something that isn’t true. Oftentimes these instances are so hyperbolic you can tell quickly they’re a joke, but every now and then there are a few jokes that walk the line between truth and deception with exquisite flair. Here are ten of my favorite April Fools’ Day jokes for you to get angry at for not being real.
Google Maps + Pac-Man (2015)
Just last year Google (who will be on this list again) created the world’s largest game of Pac-Man… literally. By clicking a small button on Google Maps, you could instantly transform whatever street, intersection, or highway you were currently viewing into a fully playable version of the classic arcade game. Admit it: you went to your street just to see how well you could avoid ghosts in your home town. I did. And it was easy. Maybe because streets in Indiana aren’t all too intricate.
IGN’s Legend of Zelda Movie (2008)
We all wanted this to be true. Hell, I still want this to be true. Back in 2008 IGN released a trailer for what looked like a truly epic movie adaptation of Nintendo’s iconic adventure franchise. It had everything going for it: great costumes, true to the series look and feel, and even an appearance by Zelda and Ganondorf. No matter how many times I watched it, the thing was just a prank. But can still view the trailer in all its infamy here!
Sheng Long is in Street Fighter II (1992)
Perhaps the most well known video game April Fools’ prank comes to us from the pages of Electronic Gaming Montly. The publication ran an article explaining how to fight against Ryu’s teacher in the original Street Fighter II. The way you supposedly unlocked him is absolutely insane, requiring you to not take a hint of damage from any opponent until you fight M. Bison, and then while fighting the madman you need to not deliver or take any damage the entire bout for Sheng Long to show up. It wasn’t long before gamers called foul, but without the internet to debunk this, I’m sure many gamers had their dreams crushed when they found out it was a joke. But Capcom may have had the last laugh, as with the release of Street Fighter IV in 2008 Ryu’s teacher, known as Gouken, is actually a playable character!
Google Maps allows us to catch Pokemon (2014)
Before you could play Pac-Man in Google Maps, you could catch Pokemon! In 2014 the tech giant added a feature that allowed mobile users of their Google Maps app to zoom in on random locations across the globe to find and capture Pokemon! The company expanded on the joke by saying they were looking for people to hire for this position, even including it in a mock job video. If that wasn’t already cool, for those that actually found and captured all 150 Pokemon in the “game”, Google actually sent them special Pokemon themed Google business cards! And if that wasn’t enough, with the announcement of Pokemon GO last year, the core idea of catching Pokemon in real time in the real world is actually going to happen! Absolutely amazing!
World of WarCraft’s patch notes (every year)
Blizzard plays the April Fools’ game hard, and every year dedicated World of WarCraft fans appreciate the humor in the annual patch notes. Usually these notes tell what content has been added, changed, or otherwise needs to be noted for players. But when April rolls around the notes mention things like the entire Hunter class “Seems Fine,” and that friendly emotes are no longer available for the entire Warlock class. The MMO is still going strong in 2016, and you can bet players will be looking forward to what this year has to say (or not say) about their favorite RPG.
The Tauren is playable in StarCraft II (2008)
Another case of joke turned into reality, and another entry from Blizzard! Around the height of popularity in the World of WarCraft series, and the recent revival of the StarCraft series, Blizzard decided to tug at the fantasies of their fanbase by saying the cow-like Tauren from the WarCraft series would be featured as a Terran marine in the strategy StarCraft series. While the idea of having 30 Taurens run into Protoss territory isn’t going to happen without mods, you actually can control a Tauren marine unit in the game’s later Legacy of the Void expansion. I guess I can’t complain for them delivering on their promise!
Sonic and Tails are unlockable in Super Smash Bros. Melee (2002)
Another EGM article that got the fighting game community in an uproar, this time for the Nintendo based mascot fighter Super Smash Bros Melee. Long rumored to be in the game, Sega’s mascot Sonic and his sidekick Tails were apparently unlockable combatants if you could pull off 20 wins in a single Cruel Melee mode. What is it with EGM and their neigh-impossible feats to unlock fake bonus material? Sadly the Blue Blur isn’t in Melee (but he’s been in every subsequent Smash since), but that didn’t stop countless Nintendo fans to try to unlock him anyway!
Half-Life 3 appears on Steam (2012)
Yes, yes, it’s cruel, but Valve hurt many a gamers’ hearts with this April Fools’ release of Half-Life 3. I think partly why so many thought this just might have been true was because it kept with the tradition of Valve releasing content without any real warning. Sadly though this game still hasn’t seen light, and perhaps will go down as just another joke to tug at our hopes and nothing more!
Sega’s unreleased Neptune console gets released (2001)
The kings of video game April Fools day pranks EGM were back at it in 2001, when this time they claimed to have unearthed news of a warehouse full of Sega Neptune consoles. The Sega Neptune, for those unaware, was a Sega Genesis console with the Sega 32X add-on built into the system. It was never released to the public… or at least until now! I didn’t catch this joke when it first came out, but as a collector you can bet if something like this happened now I might just have to check it out. You know, not that I would fall for it, but just to make sure I wasn’t missing out on something special!
Pokemon Kart for Wii (2010)
Sadly this blurry screenshot and YouTube video are the only things we’ll get to a Pokemon racing game for the Wii. But for a few hours back in 2010 we were excited for what could have been. This one cuts especially deep because the game just makes sense. Nintendo has perfected the kart racing genre, has one of the largest most recognizable franchises with Pokemon, and the Pokemon themselves could easily attack and battle one another on go-karts. It’s simple, really! Oddly enough there’s already a Pokemon racing game out (Pokemon Dash for the DS), but it isn’t a kart racer! If Nintendo ever wants another solid Pokemon spinoff they can guarantee will sell, look no further than that hopefully one day false April Fools’ day joke!
If this list is any indicator, the video game industry is in no short supply of excellent pranks. Don’t get fooled this year by what looks to good to be true. Or you know what… do get fooled, because some of those best pranks turned out to be actually real years later, I’m sure in part thanks to the initial buzz in popularity. Here’s hoping we get some good laughs and memorable moments from today!