Let’s face it, most of the April Fool’s jokes on the internet are horrible, especially in the tech world. The vast majority are for products or services that are too ridiculous or impractical to really exist, leading to annoyance or depression, respectively. Many others are just blatant lies about prominent newsmakers who wouldn’t even be that smart if they were half believable (which they overwhelmingly aren’t).
This year, however, there are a surprising number of pranks that actually take the form of free games (or at least “interactive experiences”) that you can participate in right now. This April Fool’s “jokes” are more like playable Easter eggs, showing off some inventive gameplay experiments that range from inspired to interesting. And most of them can be played for free in a browser or via a download.
Here are some of the best examples we could find of pranks you can play as gamesunlike pranks you can play on someone Today.
Pac man on Google Maps
Play it here
One of the most prominent jokes on this list is also one of the funniest. Google launched this feature late yesterday and posted a giant Pacman icon in the bottom left corner of every map offered on the popular map service. Clicking that button converts the street layout into a playable layout Pacman maze, complete with ghosts, power pellets, a scoring system and unlimited lives. The algorithm even takes into account multi-lane roads with curves and loops Pac man to the other side of the card if it moves off an edge.
This isn’t the first time Google has had fun with Namco’s little yellow disc – in 2010 the company celebrated Pac man‘s 30th anniversary with a playable version embedded in the Google doodle logo.
Some nice landmarks to try Pac man Maps: Times Square in New York City, Lombard Street in San Francisco, and the National Mall in Washington, DC
Download it here
While we keep waiting for indie first-person shooter Super hot to get out of the prototype stage after the Kickstarter success, we will content ourselves with this Earthquake-ified one-level demo that we can play now. The heavily modified version of the original shareware Earthquake demo stocks Super hot‘s main gameplay conceit: enemies and projectiles only move when you do. The graphics have also been overhauled to mimic super hot’s red-on-white aesthetic, making it familiar Earthquake enemies in angular, imposing patches of color.
The result is an interesting new twist on the classic Earthquake that requires more strategic thinking and less muscle reflexes than ever before. Getting through all 60 enemies without dying is surprisingly difficult unless you are very careful.
Extinguishing light physical modifications
Buy the game here
login Extinguishing light today, and you’re greeted with a message telling you that an infected batch of Antizen has given you “mutated physical abilities for up to 24 hours”. The result, as seen in the video above, is the ability to send zombies flying into the stratosphere with a punch or kick. The rag doll physics are the funniest part of most games, and they are exploited this way in the super serious, gritty world of Extinguishing light only raises that humor quotient.
Just one problem: These hilarious effects will only be available on April 1 itself, according to Techland. PC players willing to dive into config files might be able to create similar effects any day of the year, but they don’t have to get into hacking to add to the fun. Techland should make this mode an unlockable menu option soon.
Engine storm dune buggy in it Drive Club
Download it here
The PS4-exclusive driving simulator is getting a taste of a PS3-exclusive driving simulator today, with the free DLC offering of a Wombat Typhoon dune buggy. This bouncy all-terrain vehicle looks more than a little out of place next to it Drive Club‘s supercars and precision racetracks, but that’s part of the fun. And hey, free is free.
Fast runners 8-bit mode
Buy the game here
The Steam announcement post for this April 1 game update sums things up nicely: “Following months of research and countless heated debates within the SpeedRunners team, the biggest update in the game’s history goes live today, with the visual design is being modified to give the experience a more pixel-art feel.” In reality, this new update simply puts a pixelated blur filter on top of the usual crisp vector graphics of this competitive platform racer and turns the soundtrack into an infectious chiptune beat.
That announcement post notes that “there’s no way to revert to the original art style – we threw all that gloss and finish into a bin marked ‘silly’ and it’s never coming back,” but we suspect it team that will change their tune on April 2. For now, enjoy the review.
MS DOS mobile
Download it here
“Oh, haha. A text-based operating system for a smartphone. That would be pretty useless, very funny.” But no, this prank is actually an actual app that you can download and play with on your Windows Mobile device. It even comes with a playable rock-paper-scissors game buried in the directory tree, assuming you can edit the memory settings to make it work and pick the right graphics mode. Ah, the glory days of PC gaming.