April Fools' Day 2010 roundup
Old Republic Sarlacc character class, Alan Wake Wars, Battle.net dating service, and Civilization V's Extreme Diplomacy mode among this year's pranks.
Each year, the game news cycle slows to a crawl on April 1. That's when media outlets and game publishers alike typically let slip the dogs of comedy in the form of fake stories, bogus games, and hoax announcements for April Fools' Day. Usually, the gags are obvious, although occasionally one does trick a good many, as a Dutch site did earlier this week with a fake reveal of the Xbox 360 slim.
As always, Blizzard Entertainment went big this year, launching a fake dating service on Battle.net. The matchmaking service's tagline is "someone to pwn noobs with," and it resembles such online dating services as Match.com or eHarmony.com. A promotional video also extols the service, saying Battle.net's "matchmaking algorithm" will help lonely players find a mate with similar skill levels. Attempting to find a match, however, begins a series of increasingly absurd messages ("PC Load Letter") as a search status bar fills and refills…and refills ad infinitum.
World of Warcraft players also may have noticed that their character models on www.wowarmory.com were replaced with that of a Tuskarr, or anthropomorphic walrus. Blizzard didn't stop there, though. The company posted a page for a fake iPhone sequel to its 1994 DOS and SNES platformer Blackthorne, which was later ported to the Sega 32x, Mac, and Game Boy Advance. Styled after a 1980s action sequel, Blackthorne 2: Thorne Harder certainly has mid-'90s-quality graphics, although it will sport 21st-century tools. Blizzard said it will feature "Twitter and Facebook integration to automatically post updates for every single enemy you kill. Your friends will thank you."
Blizzard also posted another fake iPhone game, Queen's Quest, which will depict the aftermath of Starcraft's Brood War with "exotic 16-color locations." The company also hit the merchandising angle, selling the Snuggie-esque "Diablo III X-Treme Gamer Blanket" and Diablo III body pillows guaranteed to terrify children. It is also (not) offering the Deckard Cain GPS voice pack, asking, "What better way to get where you're going than by following the carefully considered directions of everyone's favorite antediluvian archivist from the Diablo series?" Audio samples are also available.
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Fellow role-playing game developer BioWare also got into the fun, announcing a new class for its forthcoming massively multiplayer game Star Wars: The Old Republic. As outlined in a hard-hitting interview on GameSpot, the new class will be the Sarlacc Enforcer, based on the infamous--and immobile--pit monster that appeared in Return of the Jedi. However, rather than simply act as a massive digestive garbage disposal for unlucky smugglers, Sarlacc Enforcers will play a crucial role in the seedy underbelly of The Old Republic's universe, working with Hutt gangsters and bounty hunters to affect the game's political landscape.
Firaxis Games also got in on the fun with a fake press release touting a new feature for its upcoming, sure-to-be-time-consuming strategy title. Under the headline "2K Games Announces New Extreme Diplomacy Game Mode for Sid Meier’s Civilization V," the release outlines a new "uber edition" of the upcoming game, which will come with an "optional eight-button joystick" that will "allow two world leaders to enter a death match and fight to the finish, using special attacks and finishing moves." The moves include George Washington’s Uncle Slam Attack, Oda Nobunaga’s Tsunami Train Attack, and Otto von Bismarck’s Hurricane Helmet Spike Attack. Were that not enough of a Street Fighter homage, Firaxis also released a screenshot to clear up any doubt.
Rounding out the day's hijinks is Alan Wake Wars, a new real-time strategy game from Finnish developer Remedy. The obvious parody is viewable via YouTube and shows players assembling armies of the ghostly enemies from the upcoming third-person psychological thriller Alan Wake. A title card crows, "24 different unit types, 17 different maps, 18 tech trees, one theme song…over and over again."
Last but not least, GameSpot posted a special April Fools' Day edition of Today on the Spot, presented in glorious 3D. Viewable below, the program includes news of the new first-person litigator Call of Jury Duty, a demo of Rush: Rock Band and its 20-drum peripheral, and details on the controversial Mega Man series reboot.
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