Rumor Control: The April Fools' Day Edition

This week: Unreal III, WOW's Chinese takeout command, the Apple gPod, and Sony drops support for PS2 FFXI.

RUMOR #1: Epic Games has announced Unreal III.

Source: Unreal info central Beyondunreal.com.

The official story: N/A.

What we heard: Since this was republished with a straight face by several news sites, including the revered Slashdot, it seemed to be legitimate at first. However, when tracked to the source, its humorous origins became clear from the game's full title: Unreal 3: Slug Saga - The Adventures of Ne'ban. According to the "release," the game will cast players as the giant slug, Ne'ban, "last seen being blown to smithereens at the end of Unreal 2." The slimy protagonist will face enemies such as the "salt-wielding Mr. Crow" across "60 unique and laggy alien worlds," at times having to "rely on extreme flatulence to defend himself from foes." Were that not obvious enough, the release was also accompanied by several profanity-packed quotes from the developers and a bunch of amusing fake screenshots (see screenshot index).

Bogus or not bogus?: Bogus.

RUMOR #2: Online support for the PlayStation 2 version of Final Fantasy XI is going to be discontinued.

Source: The official FFXI Web site...or not?

The official story: N/A.

What we heard: One of the day's more devious pranks--also spread by the now obviously complicit Slashdot--plays on the fears of many gamers. In particular, it outlines the nightmare scenario of those who shelled out $99.99 for the Final Fantasy XI/PS2 hard drive bundle. Namely, if its subscriber base dwindles, Sony might discontinue support for the massively multiplayer online role-playing game. The page in question says it has done just that. "It is with regret that we must announce the end of FFXI service for the Playstation 2," reads a brief notice on the site. "The decision was not taken lightly and is the result of many months of deliberation by the development team. ... Playstation 2 players will no longer be able to log in to the game from the 1st of May 2005." But although the dreary copy echoed notices posted on the Web sites for many recently canceled MMORPGs, it turns out it's completely false. When a visitor to the page changes the URL, a pop-up window appears that reads, "April Fools!"

Bogus or not bogus?: Bogus again.

RUMOR #3: The developer of World of Warcraft has added an option that lets you order Chinese food via an in-game command.

Source: The official World of Warcraft Web site.

The official story: N/A.

What we heard: As with last year's two-headed ogre gag, the Blizzard crew spent considerable time preparing its April Fools' prank. This time around, it's an obvious dig at rival MMORPG EverQuest II's real-life partnership with Pizza Hut, which lets players order a pizza by entering "/pizza" while playing the game. Under a headline asking if you're "Too lazy to get up and use the PHONE?", the page outlines how, after you type "/panda," it will bring up a menu of the fictional Pandaren Xpress Chinese fast-food chain. "With each /panda order, you will also receive an in-game Pandaren Fortune Cookie!" says the page. Ironically, the example fortune provided reads, "A change in lifestyle will lead to new possibilities for romance." The site also provides a glimpse of the forthcoming "intense Battleground PvP combat," and European WoW players learn of a new in-game refreshment called Warbucks Coffee.

Bogus or not bogus?: Bogus scores a hat trick.

RUMOR #4: Apple has announced a PSP-esque gaming device called the Apple gPod (pictured).

Source: An e-mail "press release" sent from an almost certainly spoofed Apple e-mail address.

The official story: N/A.

What we heard: When the PSP launched last week, many a gadget geek had to have it. Unfortunately, they all also now have to carry it around with their iPods, PDAs, cell phones, and wallets. So when an e-mail titled "Apple Announces the gPod Handheld Gaming System" landed in their mailboxes, it seemed like an answer to their prayers. Allegedly available in 2006, the device would "work effortlessly with Apple’s iTunes, providing music lovers with access to the iTunes Music Store, the world’s leading digital music service. Additionally, the gPod will have the ability to download movies and games on demand from Apple's new Internet Movie and Video Game services." The gPod would also feature a 300MHz G4 processor, 512MB of RAM, 32MB of dedicated video RAM, and a 2GB hard drive, which is "more than enough power to run the latest in contemporary video games." If that sounds like the stuff dreams are made of...that's because it is.

Bogus or not bogus?: Like "not bogus," minus the "not" part.

RUMOR #5: This April Fools' Day thing is getting way, way out of hand.

Source: See below.

The official story: "Make. It. Stop."--God.

What we heard: Besides GameSpot's own batch of fake news stories (and a few other, subtler jokes hidden around the site) it seems every game site ran some sort of April Fool's story: Hlfallout.net revealed Gabe Newell was leaving Valve to tour with his folk band; Total Video Games said that Sega was launching a new console; Bungie detailed a bunch of Halo 2 multiplayer Easter eggs, game-music site Ocremix.org announced a partnership with EA before the publisher's lawyers slapped the site with a cease-and-desist letter (or did they?); Computer and Video Games touted their "world exclusive" revealing Shrek 2 characters would appear in a GameCube reissue of Soul Calibur II. One community member even went as far as to mock up a screenshot and press release for a new version of Punch-Out starring GameSpot Editors. In the words of the late Jimmy Durante, "Everybody's trying to get into the act!"

Bogus or not bogus?: Not bogus.

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