Considering my schedule these days, it’s hard to know if I’m coming or going. My good friends over at United We Game held a celebration of sorts this month, looking at some of the best April Fools pranks, tricks, and hoaxes. I could have sworn that I missed all the fun but as it turns out, I made the cut in the nick of time. Better late than never though, right?
While I’m not a person to obsessively pour over a game trying to unlock every secret or delving into the smallest of places on a map to potentially discover an easter egg, there are a number of tricks and fun pranks I’m pretty fond of. For more of these types of shenanigans, (shameless site plug) check out my April Fools recap posts here.
Here’s my short list:
Sometimes, the best pranks are in-fact real
Back when THQ was still a thing and Volition still worked on the Red Faction series, they thought it’d be fun to get in on the 2009 April Fools Day festivities. The prank started with an elaborate video showing a behind the scenes look at a planning meeting for the latest game in the franchise, Red Faction Guerrilla. After a “screenshot leak” and resulting NeoGaf photoshop, Kevin White, producer on the game, took to a doctored photo of the trademark hammer being made into an ostrich. The video went on from there as the dev team worked tirelessly to create a hammer weapon that was actually a live ostrich. While the video was hilarious and intended to be just a prank, the internet loved the idea so much that Volition actually created the weapon for use in the game.
Continuing with the fake to real theme, Ubisoft also capitalized on April Fools with a new game announcement. With the success of Far Cry 3, Ubisoft wanted to capitalize on the new fanbase by releasing a standalone expansion. The crazy part? The new entry looked nothing like the core game, instead using cheeseball one liners, a rocking synth soundtrack, and a visual style that looked straight out of the 1980’s complete with neon colors. Calling it Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, details released on April 1 confusing the general public if this new Ubisoft game was an elaborate hoax or real. Thankfully, as we now know, Blood Dragon was indeed a real game and an excellent one at that.
Mortal Kombat is a series known for it’s over the top fatalities, but it’s also a franchise that embraces secrets and fan driven speculation. A number of characters were even created from rumors or inside jokes.
Take a look at the black clad ninja, Noob Saibot. Reversing his name will actually spell out, Boon Tobias, the two last names of the franchise creators, Ed Boon and John Tobias. Initially intended on being a sort of prank character, fan popularity actually fored Midway (now NetherRealm Studios) to give Noob his own background, becoming the undead older brother of the current Sub-Zero.
Another fun one is the (former) red ninja, Ermac. Before making his debut in Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3, Ermac was simply fan speculation based on the first game in the series. Believed to be a hidden character after fans saw the name “ERMACS” in the audit menu for Mortal Kombat, the name was actually shorthand for the term Error Macro, a tool used to debug code. Rumors and speculation took off fueled by the trolling Midway did in Mortal Kombat II with Jade sometimes saying “Ermac Who?” or the phrase CEAMR ODSE NTO EXITS (an anagram of “Ermac does not exist”) appearing after beating the game. It wouldn’t be until UMK3 released that Ermac would become an actual character.
Rain, the princely purple ninja, was actually created as a sort of joke by the developer to trick players while being an obvious reference to the song Purple Rain by Prince. While fans searched for ways to unlock the character, it wouldn’t be until Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 released that fans would finally get to use the water based ninja.
Finally, Skarlet, a red female ninja character, was first rumored to exist all the way back in Mortal Kombat II. As it turns out, a coding glitch in the game caused the character Kitana to turn red at times, fueling fan speculation about another secret character. Embracing the rumor, Skarlet was finally created and released in the 2011 Mortal Kombat game.
Well, that’s my short list, but what’s yours? Let me know some of your favorites as there’s a ton out there!