Editorial: The Top Ten Online April Fools Jokes (That I Saw)
Tuesday was the day the internet went cuckoo. April 1st has always had a strange vibe to it. Some believe it is a day to kick back and have a few good laughs, but I see it as a day where you can’t trust anyone or anything. Nothing could have been more true of this past April Fools Day though, as it seemed the entire internet had come up with their own special practical joke. At first, it was pretty fun to come across some fake trailers and news bits poking fun at current events and the like. Unfortunately, it kind of began to wear thin as the day went on, and it seemed like every other website suddenly thought they were the cleverest bunch in the whole world. Still, some of them I have to admit were just classic. Thus, I’ve constructed this list of the Top Ten Online April Fools Jokes that I saw that day. Continue after the break for a glimpse into internet April Fools Day insanity.
10. 3D Realms “Concept Art” for Duke Nukem Forever
Bringing up the rear is the “concept art” that 3D Realms released for their always delayed and rarely seen title, Duke Nukem Forever. I’m putting this at the bottom of the list because it was pretty much the worst April Fools Day joke out of all of them (which breaks the whole “Top Ten” notion, but, hey, it’s my list). Sure it was clever in a “pig dressed as a cop with donuts around it and farting” sort of way, I guess. But that still doesn’t excuse the fact that this is 3D Realms poking fun at the tiny amount of information about the game they’ve doled out over the years by offering up something that’s just plain fake to begin with. It’s like throwing a starving child a piece of food just to watch them pick it up and discover it’s actually a cleverly-painted rock. They also stated that they had the same artist design a new logo for them and then accompanied it with a sketch that looked like it was done by a toddler. Hardy freakin’ har har.
9. Capcom Reveals Sheng Long for Street Fighter IV
Here’s another one that toys with our emotions, while also continuing a legacy of one of the more infamous April Fools Day hoaxes in gaming history. Many people still remember back in 1992 when Electronic Gaming Monthly published a cheat for the arcade version of Street Fighter II claiming that players could unlock Ryu and Ken’s sensei, named (at the time) “Sheng Long,” but only if certain incredibly difficult requirements were met. The hoax was so effective that even Capcom USA thought it was true, several other publications reprinted the same cheat, and Sheng Long was incorporated into some Street Fighter comics before he was revealed as a joke. So Tuesday, Capcom decided to continue with the joke by posting a “secret unlockable character” on their blog named — you guessed it — “Sheng Long,” and even accompanied this announcement with a shadowy image. To unlock him though, you would have to win very round with a “Perfect” as Ryu and then perform a Shoryuken on the last boss fight. I’m sure that someone out there will be able to do that when the game is eventually released, but the only reward they’re likely to get is a nice high score.
8. Kia Announces the Kee Wii
Kia thought it would have a little fun with its media contacts on Tuesday by sending out a press release announcing the new “Kia Kee Wii” concept. The proposed car would feature a “revolutionary wireless driving system” in the form of a Wii-mote and Nunchuk. Why? So little kids could drive of course, according to one made-up executive:
“It seems obvious to us that if children as young as eight can drift, rally and race their way to multiple world championships on a games console, then this new driving system will be simple enough for anyone to use. Even from the backseat.”
The press release included a picture of the vehicle and a child in the driver’s seat, clutching the “driving system.” Frankly, if the car can pull of Excite Truck type stunts, I’m sold.
7. Stick Figures Invade Guild Wars
On All Fools Day, those who logged on to play some Guild Wars might have been left scratching their heads for awhile. For one day only, the developers replaced the avatars of everyone at Level 20 with stick figures. Nothing changed with the characters attributes or abilities; they were just walking stick people carrying weapons. No one seemed to mind too much though, and many even got together for mass stick figure dances in certain areas. Honestly, if someone ever made a stick figure-based MMO, I’d probably join it.
6. Xbox.com Reveals the New Spring Hardware
Xbox.com decided to surprise everyone on April 1st by revealing four brand new pieces of hardware that would be available this spring. They included a couple of new SKU’s, including the wood-paneled “Vintage” Xbox, complete with old-school knob controller, and the “Recon” Xbox 360, which looked more like a piece of military hardware than a gaming console. There was also the new Xbox Live Board Game, which provided you questions and unlocked achievements through a USB connection to your console. What caught most people’s eye the most though was the Xbox 360 Wireless Helmet, which essentially attached a flexible plasma screen to your face for the most immersive FPS experience ever (complete with retnal burning). Clicking the “Learn More” option for any of these products brought a pre-order page with two steps: 1) Check Tuesday’s date 2) Slap yourself. Give it a decade or so though, and I’ll bet a similar gaming flight helmet will probably show up on the market.
5. ThinkGeek’s “Super Pii Pii Brothers” and More
ThinkGeek is known for rolling out ridiculous made-up products on April Fools and yesterday was no exception. Along with such “genius” products as the USB Pregnancy Test and the BetaMax to HD-DVD Converter, they unveiled a new Wii-exclusive called “Super Pii Pii Brothers.” This “game” had you controlling a constant stream of on-screen urine to try and hit the toilets as well as any cats that popped out of them. It even came packaged with a special codpiece peripheral to attach your Wii-mote, as shown off by a female gamer with a suspiciously good aim. It was all very ridiculous, though I could really use that caffeinated cereal; could go well with my morning pot of coffee.
4. Blizzard Spoofs…Well, Everything
Blizzard went all out this April Fools Day with not one, but four cleverly crafted stories. Where to begin? There was the new “Bard” class for World of Warcraft, who fights enemies with face-melting guitar solos through a Guitar Hero-like interface. There was the “Diablo Pinata,” which comes filled with deadly weapons instead of the usual candy. Then there was the new “Tauren Marine” for Starcraft II, which was essentially a man-cow in a suit of space armor. And finally there was “World of Warcraft: Molten Core”: a console version of their popular MMORPG developed for the Atari 2600. Besides being jsut plain funny, each of these stories was accompanied by very convincing and well-made screenshots, concept art, and/or trailers. For the “Tauren Marine” prank, it looks like someone actually made a Tauren Marine unit in the game just for the purposes of this joke. Strange how they managed to come up with four witty pranks for April Fools Day while still routinely updating their games and feeding us trailers and screenshots actually worth getting excited over, eh, 3D Realms?
3. The Legend of Zelda: The Movie
Sometimes the best pranks play to our dreams and just leave us feeling a little better afterwards. At least, that’s how I felt after seeing a new trailer from IGN for The Legend of Zelda movie. Someone obviously put a lot of time into this, since it features good cinematography, a great soundtrack, and some amazing special effects. It’s obvious that it’s not a real Hollywood film (mostly because of a lack of polish and some dodgy makeup for Ganondorf), but this is still the best fan-made Zelda trailer ever; miles ahead of some of the others clogging the web. Who knows? Maybe someone will see this and actually start trying to get a real Legend of Zelda movie off the ground.
2. Assassin’s Metal Creed Solid
In a similar vein as the Zelda film trailer, this prank isn’t exactly funny, so much as it is mind-blowingly awesome. A strange video titled “Assassin’s Solid” appeared on the internet, basically showing Solid Snake dressed as Altair from Assassin’s Creed running around the war-torn world of the upcoming Metal Gear Solid 4. As yet, no one is completely sure where this video of Altair running around in Snake’s world came from: either through collaboration between Ubisoft and Konami or through a modder’s painstaking work. Regardless, gamers can still agree this was probably the coolest video to hit the web all day on the first of April; hell, it’ll probably be the coolest video all month. Oddly enough, this joke video almost serves as the best commercial for Metal Gear Solid 4 to date. I messaged the video to a friend of mine and the resulting conversation probably explains it best:
“Holy crap, I want to play that game!”
“Dude, it’s not real. It’s an April Fools Joke.”
“Oh…but is that what Metal Gear Solid 4 will play like?”
“Holy crap, I want to play that game!”
I think the real joke here is on our brains as we try feebly to process that much awesome in one five-minute video.
1. YouTube Rickrolls Millions
Despite this being non-gaming related, YouTube deserves the number one spot for possibly pulling off the biggest “Rickroll” in the history of the term. All throughout April Fools Day, anyone who clicked on a Featured Video from the site’s home page was instantly taken to the classic music video for Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up.” At the end of April 1st, that video had almost six million views, meaning they Rickrolled millions of people in a single day. That also means that same number of people had the catchy tune stuck in their head for the rest of the day (myself included). Well played, YouTube, well played.