April 1st means just one thing: the Web is full of April Fool’s pranks played by the big guys, the little guys and your own Facebook friends. It gets hard to tell what’s real news and what’s a joke.
April Fool’s Day is not a happy time for journalists. While the other 364(ish) days of the year can be spent soaking up the news from the usual press releases and guys down the pub, the first of April makes news gathering akin to getting stuck in the bathroom of said pub and using the scrawls there as instructions to the exit. On the Internet as with pub bathrooms, one wrong move will have you smelling funny and dripping wet. Then, on comes the laughter from colleagues and a stern talking to from the publican.
Thankfully most are easy to spot, as long as you keep the date in mind at all times. One of the big April Fool of 2012 has already spread far and wide, with Google going retro in order to add Maps to the NES (Nintendo Entertainment System). This sees Google taking its effort to offer its products on all devices into the dark and distant past.
Google likes (sorry +1s) to go that extra mile with its April Fool’s Day efforts in an attempt to stay hip and cool. Of course, nothing is more hip or cooler than the NES or its Zelda/Final Fantasy maps.
This first rate production has it all — including a period-perfect 1980s Japanese family, having to blow on the cartridge to get it working and digs at the limitations of the console. The ‘game’ they concocted also appears to be an homage to Dragon Quest II or the early Final Fantasy games judging by the title screen and the nod to Square Enix at http://maps.google.com/.
Being Google, there is an interactive stage to this gag. Google Maps itself has been re-skinned in 8-bit form. Just go to Maps and click on the “quest” button in the upper right corner of the map. Now you can see what your hometown looks like if it was in The Legend of Zelda.
Other notable April Fools events this year include;
Announcing StarCraft®: Supply Depot™ –
BlizzKidzz – “a new line of videogames set to capture the imagination of a whole new generation of gamers. Designed for a young audience, Blizzard Kidzz™ games strive to present children with not just the most epic, but also the most educational gaming experiences… ever.”
Mojang’s Next Big Game: Mars Effect – “After several weeks of trying to come up with a good name for the game, we finally decided not to learn from previous experiences and pick a name that’s already kind of in use by a huge existing franchise. After playing around with names like “Elight”, “Wind Commander”, and “Steve Online”, we finally settled on the very catchy name “Mars Effect”. – Notch”
Introducing reddit timeline™ – “Using never-seen before time travel technology, in addition to news, we are now able to offer olds, soon-to-bes, and everything in-between. We’ve taken the most interesting eras of the past and future and condensed them into new areas called “timereddits”.”
This is of course not a complete list by any means. If you have seen some others worth mentioning let us know in the comments box below.