Alright, it may be a Monday, but it's still April Fools' Day over here, a very special day in video gaming. Many related companies, studios and merchants are pulling hoaxes and stunts, and making gag announcements. So let's round up as many as we can here!
MetaMeta Critic (Paradox Interactive)
The developer of of PC games such as Crusader Kings (and Lead and Gold on PlayStation Network) has an even better idea than Metacritic: Meta-Metacritic, which is "an all-new platform to objectively quantify the art of games journalism". Yes, there is actually a site, yes, actual writers are 'reviewed' there and yes, there are reader reviews. For example, our friend and colleague Leigh Alexander (written up by "Bulba Soar"): "so yah cody and i had a fight over her mass affect 3 feature and now pa says we can't go in the shed anyway because he keeps his special private things there and says the police would..."
According to a release from Paradox "This new system will provide game-enthusiast enthusiasts with a better overall concept of these writers, and allow them to make easy read/browse/troll decisions before spending their hard-earned unique pageviews.
Thank God I am not listed.
Retro City Rampage: The Cereal (Vblank)
Bad VHS tracking lines are the icing on the cake for this superb homage to cheesy 1980s cross-marketing and grody cereals. "Move over Ecto-Cooler! The OFFICIAL Retro City Rampage Breakfast Cereal is here!" says the game's maker, Vblank, in a statement. This video is outstanding. I totally lose it at 1:07. So good, I will gladly toss a link to the game's official page. Retro City Rampage is eyeballing a May release as a console and PC downloadable.
Admiral Ackbar Singing Bass (ThinkGeek)
Thing about ThinkGeek's hoaxes, they usually come true (iCade, Tauntaun sleeping bag). The Admiral Ackbar Singing Bass is half as useful and twice as awesome as any of them. Cribbing on the "Big Mouth Billy Bass" gag gift you've seen in basement rec rooms nationwide, this product claims to play the Creature Cantina song and, yes, say "It's a trap!" As always, you may vote on which hoax products you really do want to see. This year's roster includes the Skyrim Electronic Dragon Shout Hoodie and Minecraft 'Creeps' a riff on the "Peeps" marshmallows that are the leading name in terrible Easter basket candy.
Sega Bass Fishing of the Dead (Sega)
This is a delightful video, but it's tough to laugh at it in light of what happened to Sega of America on Friday. Sort of bittersweet, really. I'm guessing Bass Fishing of the Dead is officially cancelled, too.
A Whole Bunch of Jokes (Blizzard)
Blizzard went hog wild for April Fools', cranking out StarCraft: Supply Depot 2, the "Battle.net Neural Interface" and the "Zergotchi Authenticator". My favourite is "Blizzard Kidzz", promising a suite of saccharine edutainment games, including the playable flash game "Zergling Teaches Typing" (pictured). Strat Blaster with Edmund Duke sounds fun, too.
Rock Band: the Board Game
Harmonix's latest offering features "a larger song library than any other rhythm-action board game!" I bet they said that just so they could tell their investors they dominate the rhythm-action board game market. Somewhat lengthy, but still clever, and Harmonix pokes fun at itself (I liked the "Set List Challenge" gag.)
Mime Something (Big Fish Games)
Can't tell if this poke at Draw Somethingis really real (for the iOS) or actually fake; Big Fish sent us a screen shot of the product page on Friday and asked that it be embargoed until today. Sounds real to me! "The latest game sensation no one is talking about," says the hype page. See it for yourself! [Update]: I checked in the App Store. Fake.
'Chocolate Conundrum' (Square Enix)
Square Enix announced a new feature for a game that hasn't been released yet. A 'chocolate dimension' for its upcoming puzzler Quantum Conundrum. "This time, however, instead of harnessing the laws of physics, the new dimension will manipulate the fundamental laws of chemistry," the company said in a release.
Options available to players include: "Devour your way through obstacles! Melt-down and re-solidify objects! Stick to the floor, the walls, & the ceiling! Discover all-new (chocolate) Easter eggs!"
"People are probably wondering, ‘Chocolate dimension? What's that all about?'," said Kim Swift, creative director at Airtight Games. "Chocolate is fun! Chocolate has all sorts of amazing properties! Who doesn't love chocolate? And besides that, it looks a lot more appetizing than hummus dimension."
Still, Square Enix also had a hand in yesterday's Google Maps for the NES prank, approving the use of Dragon Quest as a skin for an 8-bit rendering of Maps. So it gets applause for that.
OK, we could go crazy posting about pranks all day. The remainder here will be rounded up with a credit and links.
"Block of Ages" (Atlus/Rock of Ages)
Neanderthals Come to Age of Empires Online (Age of Empires)
Age of Empires fans should see the entire page here.
Saints Row: The Third: Enter the Dominatrix
As usual, Saints Row is just utterly bizarre. Here's the bullet points from their announcement of fake DLC, in which an alien warlord prepares to invade Earth and must take on the Saints. "In order to prepare his forces for domination, Zinyak captures the leader of the Saints and imprisons him in an elaborate virtual reality simulation. This simulation program looks and feels like Steelport, but it is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth. Here, you are a slave. Welcome... to the Dominatrix."
• The Dominatrix Has You And it feels so good. Bend the Dominatrix to your will and harness an arsenal of super powers including Mind-Bending Telekinesis, Really Really High Jump, Really Really Fast Sprint, Shiny Blue Force Shield, and Shiny Blue Fireball Projectile-of-Doom.
• Wondrous Alien Technology Use Dominatrix weapons as your own, such as the Floppy Alien Tentacle Bat, the Fire-In-The-Sky Alien Abduction Ray, and the sphincter-stretching Alien Anal Probe, as well as a touch-screen telephonic device with email and map functionality. Reach out and f$%# someone.
• Go Three Levels Deep Enter the Dominatrix within the Dominatrix within the Dominatrix to recruit former Saints from the depths of your own memory to fight Zinyak. It's all science, with just a little fiction.
Harmonix Leaks 'Street Fighter X Dance Central' (Harmonix)
Seen via Twitter.