THIS WEEK IN GAMING HISTORY: BEST APRIL FOOLS DAY PRANKS BY DEVELOPERS OVER THE YEARS
This Week in Gaming History looks back at the biggest events and releases from throughout the years.
In the last two decades, April Fools quickly became an expected tradition among many of gaming’s biggest developers and enthusiasts. Throughout the years we’ve seen many outrageous and out-of-left-field pranks. Here are some of the best and most memorable of the bunch:
Minecraft 3D was released in 2019 and featured a much more pixelated art style with references to games from the 1990s. In 2015, a love meter replaced the player character’s hunger and health stats.
An 8-bit version of Bayonetta was released on Steam in 2017, a frustrating release as fans were actively hoping for a PC port of the original game.
In 2012, Harmonix revealed a Rock Band board game.
A 2002 April Fools joke introduced a fifth race into Warcraft III, a panda-like race from the Pandaren Empire. The response was positive enough that the pandas eventually made it into the full game, as well as World of Warcraft.
Waddle Dee replaced Kirby on the official Japanese website celebrating the character’s 25th anniversary in 2018. A design swap between Kirby and Qbby from BoxBoy! was unveiled in 2019 showing off Kirby with a new square design.
In 2016, CD Projekt Red announced The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – Roach, an update that would add bugs and glitches to horse riding in The Witcher 3. An ironic approach given what we know with the Cyberpunk 2077 release last year.
Starting in 2002, Bungie announced Pimps at Sea where you can “hoist the jolliest of rogers and set sail for a different kind of booty.” The running gag continued throughout the years with a Pimps at Sea inspired headset in 2003, a movie poster in 2007, and the announcement of the Facebook game Pimpsville in 2011.
A trailer for a fake Zelda movie was created by IGN in 2008.
In 2006, GameSpot published an article claiming the then-called Nintendo Revolution would dominate the market by 2010 with cheaper prices, downloadable classic games and a focus on the non-gaming market. Quite a prediction given what we know about the eventual success of the Wii!
Google announced Pokemon Challenge in 2014, an update to the Google Maps mobile app that allowed you to catch Pokemon scattered across the real-world map. Knowing the cultural and commercial success of Pokemon Go, using April Fools as a testing ground is not the worst idea.
The first of April also marked a noteworthy business change back in 2003 with the merger of Square and Enix. Originally announced in November of 2002, the newly formed Square Enix was created to offset a continued increase in development costs and to help fill in gaps with Square’s relationships with the foreign side of the industry and Enix’s deeper roots with Japanese developers. Nearly 20 years later, Square Enix continues to remain a strong presence.
Noteworthy Releases, Anniversaries
It seems like the end of March and kickoff of April isn’t the hottest window for new releases. Given that March 31 is the end of the fiscal year for most corporations, it makes sense to hold off and release within the newer time frame.
Major milestones for this week include the 25th anniversary of the original Resident Evil. Yes, the anniversary was celebrated a bit earlier with the Japanese release, but now we get to celebrate the stateside anniversary. There’s also the 10th anniversaries of Dynasty Warriors 7, The 3rd Birthday and Spiral Knights. We’re also looking at the 5th anniversary of Hyper Light Drifter.
Take a look at some of the biggest releases during the current week from throughout the years below (this list focuses on releases in North America only).
2004 | RuneScape 2 (17 years)
2005 | Dynasty Warriors 5 (16 years)
2011 | Dynasty Warriors 7 (10 years)
2011 | The 3rd Birthday (10 years)
1996 | Resident Evil (25 years)
2010 | Mount & Blade: Warband (11 years)
1997 | DOOM 64 (24 years)
1998 | SaGa Frontier (23 years)
1998 | StarCraft (23 years)
2004 | Resident Evil Outbreak (17 years)
2016 | Hyper Light Drifter (5 years)
1994 | Raptor: Call of the Shadows (27 years)
2015 | Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin (6 years)
2005 | Lego Star Wars: The Video Game (16 years)
2013 | Defiance (8 years)
2005 | DOOM 3: Resurrection of Evil (16 years)
2020 | Resident Evil 3 (1 year)
2011 | Spiral Knights (10 years)
2013 | Evoland (8 years)
2014 | The Elder Scrolls Online (7 years)
2017 | Persona 5 (4 years)
Photo courtesy of Nintendo