The Best, Worst, & Downright Sneakiest April Fools’ Gaming Pranks Of All Time

The Best, Worst, & Downright Sneakiest April Fools’ Gaming Pranks Of All Time

April 1st is without a doubt the most agonising day for gamers all over the globe, not to mention news writers too. The amount of times I read an article this April 1st, got excited, and then spotted the date on the article is probably something I shouldn’t actually admit out loud. Still, I’m only human, and a hopeful one at that.

April 1st is, as we all know, April Fools’ Day, a day when practical jokers and tricksters pull the wool over our eyes in order to make the world a lighter place. The exact origins of the day aren’t entirely known, probably because every time someone comes up with a reason as to why the day exists, everyone shouts ‘good one’ and thinks they’re joking too.

We’ve had a lot of angry outbursts over the years when we’ve realised we’ve fallen foul of another trick. Some are clever, making us spend hours trying to work out a code out to unveil something that doesn’t exist, while some are downright silly, providing an instant chuckle alongside a memory that has stayed with us forever.

I still remember when Cartoon Network played all of their shows upside down until noon and I thought our TV was broken. I actually watched He-Man upside down with my head dangling off the sofa, which probably goes a long way to explaining why I am like I am today.

We’ve put our heads together and come up with the most annoying and brilliant April Fools’ gaming pranks from over the years, including some that we’ve seen from 2024’s ridiculous offerings.

1. Hidden Yoshi In Pokémon Red/Blue (1999)

April Fools heat information showing how to get  a Yoshi in Pokemon Red/Blue
Credit: Expert Gamer Magazine

Just stop for a second to imagine how many people would have tried this. Everyone’s initial reaction would have been ‘this is incredible,’ so incredible to even stop and think that it was too good to be true.

Nintendo makes Pokémon. They also created Yoshi. It’s the perfect little twist that we would have all loved to see in the game, and who wouldn’t want a Yoshi in their Pokémon squad, for crying out loud!

The prank was a cruel one for sure, sending people on a time-consuming wild goose chase that involved trading a Dratini between game versions, evolving it, trading it back, and then heading to the Unknown Dungeon and waiting for a glitch to happen. I bet kids waited hours for this glitch to come… I know we all did.

The pictures are so believable too… a Yoshi with the stats of Dragonite would have been the ultimate way to go back and defeat the Elite Four for a second time. And think of the possibilities of bringing him into Pokémon Stadium on the N64 too; that would have been the ultimate crossover!

2. The Virtual Boy Pro (2024)

It’s time to meet some of the biggest players in the gaming prankster world. IGN comes up with amazing ideas every year when April 1st rolls around, making light of existing tech and coming up with concepts that never fail to make us laugh.

Check out the Virtual Boy Pro, for example. Now I’ve actually seen a unit in real life that allows you to strap your switch to your head like this, though the only thing it would give you is a terrible headache. This unit, however, supposedly turns everything around you into a virtual Nintendo world and advertises new games like Link’s Korok Catcher and a Super Mario game that allows you to stomp on Goomba’s in the real world.

Can you imagine if that were real? People running around with a Nintendo Switch strapped to their heads stomping on imaginary Goomba’s while walking to work? My favourite part of IGN’s coverage of this ‘new’ peripheral is being able to ‘turn your boring real-life car’ into a racing kart’. Wearing it to drive in; now that’s a crash waiting to happen and one that Lakitu definitely can’t save you from.

3. Lara Croft Bares All (1997)

Clipping from a magazine on April Fools Day about getting an unclothed variant of Lara Croft in a game
Credit: CVG

I know, the lengths we would have gone to to see a naked woman in a video game back in the 90s. Everyone fancied Lara Croft back in the day, and this cheeky prank caught a few (ok, pretty much everyone who had the game) into believing they could play as a nude version of the Tomb Raider herself.

With a fake spokesperson boasting that ‘no one under 18 would have the rhythm to button mash or move a joystick in order to make Lara dance to the beat of The Spice Girls track ‘Wannabe’ so it was perfectly fine’, and such careful instructions like the Yoshi prank at the top of the article, it seemed so real and thought out.

Some of the ways that the writer suggested we enjoyed the game sound a little seedy, but it was definitely one of those pranks that stumped a lot of ‘inquisitive’ gamers back in the day. Hey, I’m not judging, I’m counting ourselves among them too!

4. Live Action Zelda Prank (2008)

Let’s have another one from IGN, shall we? These guys aren’t afraid to put a lot of budget into making their pranks believable, and this Legend of Zelda live-action trailer from 2008 proves it!

Just take a look at this video; ok, Link touching the Tri-Force and getting the triforce of Wisdom is a little out of the ordinary (trust me to get annoyed by that bit), but the costume, Ganon and Zelda, the battles with the spinning Peehats, a Dodongo, giant Skulltulas – it all looks great.

These guys don’t do things by halves, and I think both myself and every other Zelda fan watched this trailer wishing it would become real. At this point, the only other thing we’ve got to keep us going is the Power of the Triforce video by DragonForce, something that I wish was an April Fool’s joke but is sadly real… Oh well, through the fire and the flames, we carry on with our list.

5. Studio Ghibli Making The New Zelda Movie (2024)

Let’s keep on with the Legend of Zelda theme for a little longer, shall we? This tweet showing a picture of a Studio Ghibli version of the new Legend of Zelda movie made everyone’s hearts skip a little. Ok, we know that the film is going to be live-action, but even the most assured fans thought deep down that there might have been a chance that they’d changed their minds, even if only for a second.

Images Matthew Vince created to show what Zelda would be like as a Studio Ghibli movie
Credit: Matthew Vince

The actual artwork, however, came from artist Matthew Vince, who designed these stills and in an Artwork of Achroma piece, considering what the Legend of Zelda might look like if it were a Studio Ghibli film. So, Studio Ghibli Pictures took artwork created by Matthew Vince and used it on their own Twitter channel to prank us… that’s a new level of sneaky, guys!

Matthew even made a trailer about his Studio Ghibli Zelda concept which has racked up tonnes of views so far, though he never actually pinned it as an April Fool prank. I love the artwork and would have those framed in my house!

6. PlayStation Flow (2015)

Underwater levels have always been the bane of my existence, but have I ever thought that they would be better if I could wear gaming goggles and weird arm and thigh bands in order to make them more realistic so I could complete them easier?

No… no I haven’t, which is why the PlayStation Flow gaming prank was priceless. The company sign in the background at the beginning of this video is ‘PWET’ for crying out loud! And again, like IGN, the filming is done so incredibly well, with cool close-ups and a personal trainer standing on the ‘body dryer’ that looks like a massive PS4.

The bit that gets me every time is the girl swimming in her living room – we all thought it was mad that we were dancing with Wiimotes when the Wii first came out, but this takes the biscuit completely!

7. The WiiHelm (2007)

Speaking of the Wii, ThinkGeek first announced their WiiHelm peripheral for the lazy Wii gamer back in 2007. The days of having to stand and play tennis or golf were over, with players now able to move their on-screen Miis with a little jerk of the head instead of a flick of the wrist.

The proposed peripheral was supposedly going to cost $24.99 and comprised of a helmet that a Wiimote slotted into. I mean, it looks ridiculous at first glance; the whole idea of the Wii is to get up and get active.

And then I stopped to think; what about people who don’t have use of their arms who want to join in on the fun? The more I think about it, the more the idea isn’t that weird. Ok, the design probably needs a little refining, but out of all the April Fools’ gaming pranks here, this is probably the one that had legs. And I’m talking about ‘actual applications’ when I say ‘legs’, so stop thinking about nude Lara Croft, alright?

8. Elden Ring Is Expanding (2024)

Calling the Tarnished to look upon an exciting new announcement from Bandai Namco made everyone sit up and pay attention. A short cutscene had arrived, maybe with a date or a snippet of gameplay. What were we about to see?

Well, I can tell you – possibly the greatest Dad joke of all time. We definitely saw an Elden Ring expansion alright, so much so that half of the letters hardly fit on the screen by the time it finished.

I can’t put my finger on whether this is the worst or greatest April Fools’ tweet I’ve seen in my life; I’m conflicted to go either way with it, so I’ll just move on and leave you to decide instead.

9. Miss Pac-Man Takes Over Google Maps (2017)

Miss Pac Man Google Maps Takeover image from 2017
Credit: Google Maps

Google has never been one to miss out on trends, and they certainly don’t disappoint when it comes to April Fools’ Day. Back in 2017, they announced that Miss Pac-Man would be chomping her way all over the globe via Google Maps, turning everyday commuting into a bona fide dot fest.

Now this was actually a rehash of their 2015 Pac-Man Easter Egg that they brought out two years before, but we all love Miss Pac-Man much more, which is why I’m including her in this list.

This one was real too, although you couldn’t pick which street you wanted to go on. It would usually just send you to a random part of the world where you could play the game, but it was still cool.

How many of you can remember the Pokémon Google Maps prank too… the one where people could go all over the globe finding Pokémon? Sounds to me like Pokémon Go might have been born from that idea!

10. Street Fighter 6 Cat Prank (2023)

Credit: Capcom Asia

I’m all for getting pets involved with gaming; I constantly tell my dog Bilbo how amazing it would be if he managed to play Mario Kart with me. I bet I’d whoop his good-boy-butt every day of the week!

But when Capcom Asia (or should I say ‘Catcom’ in this instance) posted a video in 2023 showing a device that allowed your cat to join in with Street Fighter 6 on the PS5, they might have taken this notion to the extreme.

The peripheral in question transfers your cat’s swipes and swishes to be translated into button-mashing on a PS5 controller, effectively turning each feline fight move into an action in the game. The whole thing is, to quote myself from an alternative Dickensian dimension, preposterous. You would miss half of the game looking at the cat playing with a piece of string.

This is why I have a dog; he’s much more sensible and wouldn’t fall for this kind of thing.

11. The PC Gaming Handheld With A Built In Keyboard (2024)

Finally, I want to end on a little bit of handheld gaming news, because that’s one of the main reasons we started Retro Dodo in the first place! With handhelds like the Steam Deck allowing people to play games they would normally play on their gaming PCs on the go, one might think that there was a need for a handheld that truly went one step beyond, providing an experience that was so close to using a PC that you never felt like you had actually left home.

Can you handle the H-AND? Gaming PC manufacturer NZXT trolled the world with their Tweet this April, making an incredible video with all the close-ups, moody colours, and sound effects that I’ve come to expect from new product reveal videos.

What I didn’t expect, however, was a full-sized pull-out keyboard to be integrated into the handheld. I mean, how would you even play on this thing? It would be harder to navigate than getting a cat to play Street Fighter! I don’t think Valve needs to worry just yet, but it was an incredibly ridiculous moment that made our April Fools’ Day a whole lot happier!

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