I know some people are really soured on the whole April Fools Day concept, particularly when it comes to the internet and gaming, but I love it. Love. It. The way I see it, it’s not about truly being fooled (although that’s sometimes a bonus); it’s about people and studios and organizations letting their hair down to be goofy, creative, and create a joke that will amuse — if not entertain — others. Finding all of these is like running around opening presents, never quite knowing what you will get.
This year, I think Guild Wars 2 delivered the best present of all, and it’s not even April 1st yet. It wasn’t even that secret, as some players discovered files beforehand that leaked all of this. But still, it’s heckafun.
It’s Super Adventure Box.
I think what makes this stellar is that it goes way beyond a joke mockup and delivers true content to players. Saying that Guild Wars 2 had a 16-bit/64-bit era platformer available is one thing, but to actually create one? With multiple levels? And lots of rewards? That pushes this into an actual holiday event.
The fun begins at the login screen, with an 8-bit version of the Guild Wars 2 theme song, but the meat of it is at Rata Sum, where an Asura created a portal allowing players to jump into a blocky, Minecrafty world where they must save the princess from a big baddie. It’s all about old school gaming homages here along with the jumping puzzle fetish that someone over at ArenaNet clearly has.
All of your skills have been replaced with basic attacks (you begin with a stick, three hearts, and five lives), and your goal is to progress through the stages, beat the bosses, get as many baubles as possible, and find little out-of-the-way secrets. And these levels (jumping aside) are just genius. It’s so easy to forget that you’re in Guild Wars 2 because other than your character, everything you experience is pure retro. I love the little touches, like how the speech bubbles (which are in gibberish) are actually 3D objects that float over heads and can be walked around.
It’s pretty challenging too. My first try I made it through a full level and a half of a second one. I didn’t purchase any upgrades, although I hear the whip is awesome. Going to have to try that next time.
The commercial is pure win too:
Anyway, major props to ArenaNet for going all-out with this. It might just be the most fun I’ve had with their holiday content yet, and it really raised the bar for what MMO studios can do on April Fools. I mean, even Blizzard’s past efforts didn’t touch this level of commitment to the joke.
And this? Is my new favorite picture.
But I’m sure many of you have played SAB already. How far have you gotten and what tips do you want to pass on?