EGM April Fools' jokes
Electronic Gaming Monthly magazine was famous for its April Fools' Day jokes. The jokes usually contained a reference to a hidden feature in a popular video game that could only be accessed through an obscure – and often near-impossible – method.
The joke was usually placed in an inconspicuous place in the magazine, and was normally treated as if it were a genuine piece of news that was being written about. Through careful observation, however, readers could pick out several signs that the story may be a joke:
- The use of the number 41 (4/1 - April 1st).
- A letter written by a reader from the state HA (HA is often used as onomatopoeia for laughter. There is no state with the postal code of HA - Hawaii is HI).
- A phonetic or hidden spelling of the phrase "April Fools" or "Fooled Again."
Often, those duped by EGM's prank would write letters to other magazines or game companies to figure out a strategy for unlocking game features. For example, Nintendo Power ran a brief article to dispose of rumors of Sonic and Tails as hidden characters in Super Smash Bros. Melee. Other times, readers will be tricked into being skeptical of a story that is, in fact, true, while the real April Fools' prank goes unnoticed. For example, readers overlooked a typo on the cover of the magazine as a joke, instead focusing on the inclusion of a Hadouken special move in Mega Man X, which was legitimately hidden in the game. Capcom would later add a Dragon Punch special move in Mega Man X2, incidentally.
Some of EGM's jokes have, coincidentally, become real features in games. Sheng Long, the fictional master of Street Fighter characters Ken and Ryu, is often viewed as the inspiration for the introduction of Akuma into the series. Also, some cheats, such as a "nude cheat" for Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball, have been made a reality, through the use of cheat devices such as the GameShark or via hacked versions of the game. Joke crossovers thought to be ludicrous at the time have also occasionally come true in later sequels, as with Battletoads & Double Dragon and Sonic's appearance in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Additionally, while Apple has not created their own portable game console called the iGame, games have made their way to the iPod Touch and iPhone, which are purchased and downloaded through iTunes.
An EGM Live* podcast, released in March 2007, explored the history of the April Fools' prank. The podcast can be downloaded for free at the 1UP.com website  (that podcast, itself, has an April Fools joke; the joke was revealed on the podcast a week later).
Enter a code to play as Simon Belmont in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game. The method of getting the code to work was just out of the realm of possibility (the title screen would disappear a second before readers were able to finish the code), frustrating people who believed the code to be legitimate. The giveaway that it was a prank could be seen in the name of the person who submitted the code: "A.P. Rilphulls", who was listed as being from "Fromegm, HA" (April Fools from EGM, ha).
- In the letters section of the following issue, EGM "promised" never to pull a similar joke again... while showing a picture of the Battletoads in the NES version of Double Dragon. Years later, Rare would make Battletoads & Double Dragon. EGM also ran a photo of Sonic the Hedgehog running down a hill in the Genesis version of Strider during this time period to further tease readers.
Perhaps the most infamous of all the April Fools jokes was the Sheng Long trick for Street Fighter II. It was said that if one could get through Street Fighter II's grueling 11-character roster without taking a hit, and then get nine "draws" in a row vs. final boss M. Bison, the player could supposedly fight against a special character called Sheng Long, who was said to be Ryu's master.
An ad suggesting gamers look for the April Fool's joke in the issue of EGM was placed on the same page as the Sheng Long trick. Despite this, most readers didn't catch on to the gag.
The name W.A. Stokins ("waste tokens") from Fuldigen, HA ("Fooled again, ha!") also appears on the page as a runner-up.
Ironically, several of Sheng Long's attributes (the Flaming Dragon Punch, air throws, red fireballs, high-powered spin kick) are actual moves that were added to Ken and Ryu's repertoire in later games. This joke is often credited with inspiring the creation of Akuma, although Capcom has never officially confirmed this. Capcom has in fact created a Sheng Long figure, as a token of goodwill and fun.
In the January 2008 issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly, Street Fighter IV producer Yoshinori Ono mentioned the possibility of adding Gouken, Ryu and Ken's sensei in Street Fighter canon, to the character roster, citing EGM's previous April Fools pranks as a source of inspiration. In fact, Gouken was included in the Street Fighter IV cast as an unlockable character.
In the month's "New Releases" section, after the listings of games for all the currently released systems, there was a listing for three games for the not-yet-released Atari Jaguar game system. Titles included Virtua Pong 64, Adventure 199X and Yar's Revenge 2 from companies like Fuldigen Soft ("Fooled again").
The cover of EGM had what was claimed to be an intentional typo: "Streeets of Rage 3". The reality of the situation, however, was that everyone on the magazine's staff had forgotten that they were working on the April issue, and no actual joke was created. After the issue had been produced, the staff realized its oversight, causing them to scramble to find an excuse for forgetting their tradition. "Luckily", there happened to be a typo on the issue's cover, which was quickly adopted as the April Fool's joke. EGM finally admitted to this fake April Fools' joke ten years later on page 57 of the May 2004 issue (#178).
At the time, no one writing in correctly guessed this to be the joke. However, many readers wrote in guessing, incorrectly, that a code for Mega Man X, giving X a Street Fighter-style Hadouken, was fake.
In the "coming attractions" section of the April 1995 issue, a Sonic the Hedgehog game (a character created by Sega exclusive to their console at the time) was listed as being published by "Nintendo". Donald Kenney from North Tonawanda, NY wrote into EGM finding the error, which turned out to be intentional as 1995's EGM April Fools Joke. [Issue 70, May 1995, pg 22]
A repeat of the Sheng Long joke, updated for Street Fighter III.
"All Bonds" cheat in GoldenEye 007. The cheat was said to be able to unlock three of the actors who played James Bond (Sean Connery, Roger Moore, and Timothy Dalton) as playable multiplayer characters.
The joke stems from a rumored statement that Rare made where one could play as those Bonds but couldn't get licenses to get their likenesses. However, their faces are still in the game's code. This feature later turned out to be true, but one required a GameShark to unlock it.
They did a brief review of a gaming accessory called "GameShortz" in their article where they reviewed various gaming accessories. The GameShortz appeared to be just a pair of boxer shorts with PlayStation controllers attached to them. The review didn't explain what the GameShortz did and seemed to be more poking fun at the idea of them. A big clue that it was an April Fools' joke was the price tag of $41.99 (4/1/99 or April 1, 1999).
EGM printed a multi-page feature (complete with doctored conference pictures) that the Intellivision was going to make a comeback. The absurdity of the idea, as well as the tongue-in-cheek article, indicated this was a joke.
Oddly, there was another article in that same issue about Twelve Tales: Conker 64 becoming Conker's Bad Fur Day, taking a new direction into bathroom and profane humor; this could have been mistaken by some as the hoax, although it was in fact true.
A small article in the April magazine advertised that Sega found a warehouse full of Sega Neptunes and were selling them off. There was a website listed where one could order a Neptune for $50. However, after one added it to their cart they were immediately directed to another web site that read "APRIL FOOLS!" and had a counter at the bottom of the screen showing how many people "fell" for it.
Super Smash Bros. Melee's "Unlock Sonic and Tails" code, where players had to defeat 20 opponents in Cruel Melee mode. This prank went widely believed for months, to a point where rival magazine Nintendo Power had to create a blurb to try to explain the origin of the rumor while not indirectly promoting EGM by mentioning the magazine's name. After revealing the prank, EGM held a contest where those who sent in videos of their Cruel Melee battles with over 20 KOs would win a copy of Sonic Adventure 2 Battle.
In an interesting twist to the joke, the sequel to Melee, Super Smash Bros. Brawl, features Sonic as a playable character. In addition, Yuji Naka, the creator of the Sonic franchise, also admitted that he did consider implementing Sonic into Melee, but was unable to do so due to time constraints.
A "topless cheat" for Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball. The cheat required players to complete the game a scant few seconds faster than is physically possible. The "cheat" caused quite a commotion, and was even sold over the Internet by some people through the bidding website eBay.
Ultimately, hackers were, indeed, able to create a "patch" for the game that allowed for "nude" bathing suits to be worn by game characters, but the patch could only be applied to copied versions of the game.
Competing kart racers would be released for the PSP – one based on the books and one based on the movies – featuring characters from The Lord of the Rings. There was a small clue in the fake game-screen showing the lap times – the total time would add up to 4/1/04, subliminally saying April Fools' Day.
EGM told readers that starting on April 1st, if they preordered The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (at that time it was not known as Twilight Princess therefore they simply used a generic title) they would receive a copy of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker with updated "realistic" graphics equal to those of the new game. A screenshot of the newly reworked Dragon Roost Island dungeon was provided as evidence.
States that Apple Computer is making a portable gaming device called the iGame. The iGame would have been compatible with iTunes, Apple's music download store. Closer examination of one of the images revealed that the first letter in each game's title on the list spelled out EGMS APRIL FOOLS.
An exclusive first look for what appeared to be a spin-off in the Kingdom Hearts series, that was to be released in 2008. It was an exclusive Wii game named "Mushroom Kingdom Hearts", featuring over 41 (4 as in April, 1 as in 1st) Nintendo characters and characters from the first two games in the series. The article was complete with artwork of a re-designed Mario holding a golden Keyblade. Sora and King Mickey are pictured with him. Accompanying this picture was an image of a Mushroom with the Kingdom Hearts crown symbol on its head.
EGM has confirmed in their March 26, 2007 podcast that the article was in fact the year's April Fool's joke, commenting on how the Mario design was a photoshopped image of the Super Mario Sunshine artwork.
Claimed to have an exclusive look into a new title developed by Bungie Studios called "Lego Halo", which would play similarly to the current crop of Lego and other intellectual property mash-up video game titles, such as Lego Star Wars, Lego Batman, and Lego Indiana Jones, with a touch of the first person shooter genre. It played on Bungie's statement that their next title would be "something completely different". Continuing the 41 theme from previous years, EGM said a character named Burt-041 would be featured in a bonus mission.
In response to the 2008 joke, the Official Xbox Magazine did an article in their March issue about a kid who does real Halo scenes from the game with Lego. The title of the article on the cover is "Lego Halo: The Real Deal".
The March/April 2013 print issue of EGM (Issue 259) included a story titled "A Mass-ive Shift for Final Fantasy" which details a purported announcement from Square Enix concerning a $41 Million deal with BioWare founders Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk to "helm development of all major upcoming Final Fantasy releases". The article claims Square Enix President Yoichi Wada also revealed a new "Final Fantasy: Forward to the Future Project" initiative that would begin "a new generation and direction" for the Final Fantasy series. Acknowledged as a joke by the article's writer, Eric L. Patterson, in a Twitter post.
- EGM's 15 April Fool's Day Pranks
- A Fool to Remember - A blog entry from former EGM News Editor, Chris Johnston
- Yuji Naka interview
- April issue of EGM reveals Bungie's next project: Lego Halo - Joystiq
- Patterson, Eric L. (March/April 2013), "A Mass-ive Shift for Final Fantasy". Electronic Gaming Monthly, p. 14.
- Twitter Post, Eric L. Patterson