When it comes to the internet and gaming, misinformation is pretty common. Whether its rumours from social media sites, the endless game of Chinese whispers distorting the news as everyone copies from each other or bad translations giving a misleading picture, stories about Nintendo and games should often be taken with more than a small pinch of salt.
But do you know what’s more interesting than that?
When someone has actually gone out of their way to trick people. When Nintendo fans and the gaming public in general have been deliberately misled into believing the most insane, random crap possible. It may be for money, it may be for publicity or it may just be laughs, but hoaxes about Nintendo games can be pretty interesting in of themselves.
So here are the top ten Nintendo hoaxes of all time…
10. Various Mario Kart Hoaxes
So let’s start with a couple of Mario Kart hoaxes.
First up, the Rainbow Cup hoax. What was that? Well, as the name suggests, a certain picture started spreading around in the Mario Kart DS days talking about a bonus cup you could unlock by beating all the staff ghosts. This cup would apparently consist of Rainbow Road tracks from the other four games in the franchise, and would act as the last true challenge for the best players to overcome.
And then we have the weird story of the Maple Treeway shortcut hoax. What’s that?
Well, it’s basically an incident where someone deliberately faked a video that purported to show a massive glitch in the level that could skip about half the lap. It was pretty quickly debunked (on video none the less), but it actually didn’t end there.
Why? Because one game later, Maple Treeway would return in Mario Kart 7.
Guess what? Someone did the exact same thing in that game too! So not only did everyone somehow believe the course was broken in its first appearance, but then fell for the exact same trick just three years later!
They say those who forget history are doomed to repeat in. Apparently that’s rather literal where Mario Kart is involved!
But it’s not just random folk on forums who fall for these…
9. The Pokemon ‘Rumours’ of Mr X
Nope, the press fall for them just as often. Indeed, do you know want to know why all these fakes seem to spread so far?
Because the people writing for gaming websites tend to do very little research or fact checking. Hence when someone like Mr X pops up 4chan, the media jump at the chance to report ‘exclusive information about Pokemon X and Y’.
Above: No, he didn’t own this website.
Unfortunately, just his counterpart from The Simpsons, Mr X was just making up random crap for the attention. Did anyone bother to question this?
No, not really.
It was only when Mr X actually came forward and said it was made up that people realised his leaked Pokedex info was full of crap. Brilliant work guys! Apparently such names as Dogsnout, Houndoomed and Throhem were not stupid enough to tip off your bullshit radars. Journalism at its finest folks!
Above: These names are hilariously pathetic.
Still, at least the following fake was plausible enough that people could have fallen for it…
8. Super Mario Galaxy DS
Because damn, the fake Mario Galaxy DS trailer actually looked one hell of a lot like a trailer for an actual Nintendo game. Okay, it was perhaps a bit ambitious compared to what the DS was actually capable of, but there certainly wasn’t anything in the video that could tip off people that it wasn’t a Nintendo product in development:
Predictably, it blew up immediately. Gaming sites wrote a ton of articles about the mysterious new Mario Galaxy DS trailer on Youtube, Gaming forums were flooded by people asking whether it was real. Heck, some people even wondered if Nintendo was going to officially announce the game soon.
Alas, it was not to be. Super Mario Galaxy DS was another work by notorious hoaxer Pablo Belmonte. Remember that name, because he’s also responsible for another item on this list that we’ll get to a bit later. Either way, it was simply a really well made mockup, and took the world by storm as a result.
But you don’t need a fancy video and fake screenshots to trick people. As the next item on the list will show you…
7. The Legend of Zelda Valley of the Flood
Ah yes, it’s this thing. For those who don’t know, Valley of the Flood was a rumoured Zelda game that kept being mentioned as the next big thing in the series. Also known by the ominous name of ‘Project Deluge’, the game was apparently meant to be a prequel to the Wind Waker, set in the doomed world flooded by the goddesses after no hero came to save the kingdom.
It would also apparently involve some sort of steampunk theme, with Zelda style guns playing a role in the setting.
But what caused this idea to catch on? After all, you mention it’s a hoax, right? So it can’t just be a rumour found on some small forum. There has to be a ‘credible’ looking source…
And there was. An interview to be precise. Or even more precisely, a fake interview with Aonuma where he supposedly stated that:
many fans tell me that they’re interested in a steampunk-influenced Zelda, even though the series has always maintained a very medieval foundation
Either way, this interview never happened. Aonuma never talked about a steampunk Zelda reimagining, Project Deluge was never in development at Nintendo and the true source of the story was more likely some bored writers overly feverish imagination rather than an exclusive chat with a Nintendo director. It’s another great example of how the media and public not doing any fact checking can lead to ridiculous ideas getting accepted as gospel because some unknown source says they’re real.
A bit like the following one really.
6. Waluigi in Super Mario 64 DS (‘Purple Prizes’)
Because the whole idea of Waluigi in Mario 64 DS didn’t just come from a bunch of internet forum users speculating about why Wario’s partner in crime wasn’t in the new Mario remake. No, it came from an infamous ‘infographic’ called ‘Purple Prizes’.
This picture was styled after a magazine page, and was claimed by its posters to be out of some Nintendo Power issue or another. It’s a fairly good fake really, since the layout really nails the 90s/early 00s gaming magazine aesthetic to a tee:
Above: A very convincing fake article about Waluigi and Mario 64 DS…
Either way, it was a fake. The picture wasn’t a magazine scan, it was a mockup by a Nintendo World Report writer called Andrew Brown, who posted it on his DeviantArt account and various gaming forums as a prank. Complete with a poorly done backstory about how it was supposedly taken from a magazine, it soon took off, with some folk even claiming it was the likes of IGN or Nintendo Power or whatever other source they can imagine.
You can find the history of it here, in this Nintendo World Report article:
Regardless, it serves as another warning about how there’s no substitute for legitimate research when looking up (or sharing) information about video games. Remember, absolutely anyone could have debunked this, by tracking it back to the original source and realising that it wasn’t actually featured in any of the magazines or websites it was being associated with. It’s not like the maker pretended to have a legitimate history under all these fake identities. He never provided any proof it was genuine.
But just like its earlier counterpart in the original Super Mario 64, Purple Prizes just got spread further and further, to the point the Mario 64 DS community was cursed to spend the next however many years shooting it down again and again. It’s almost the perfect example of why sites like Gaming Reinvented and Source Gaming have to keep existing.
Still, all these hoaxes are about games, aren’t they? No one could pretend to announce a new Nintendo console, could they?
5. Nintendo On
Yeah, they could.
Back in 2005, the Wii was the very last thing people expected Nintendo to announce. I mean, the Nintendo 64 was a traditional system, the Gamecube was a traditional system. So what would be next? How would Nintendo reinvent the gaming system?
Well, according to the Nintendo ON ‘trailer’, through some sort of virtual reality setup of course! Forget motion controls, this was apparently going to be the future:
And if you were online then, who could blame you for believing it? The video’s production quality was on par with official promos by companies like Nintendo. The core concept seemed fairly believable for anyone who bought into the ever going cycle of VR hype. And well, what more ‘revolutionary’ setup could there be than being transported into the actual game world?
It made sense, sure.
But it was fake. Remember that Pablo Belmonte guy I mentioned earlier? The one responsible for the Mario Galaxy DS mockup?
Well, he was behind the Nintendo ON video as well. That’s kind of his thing really, extremely well done fake videos that trick people into believing they’re seeing a new product by a company like Nintendo. He later continued this trend with his (also extremely believable) Majora’s Mask Wii U video:
Above: Though people really wanted this game to be real
And even before this one Nintendo ON hoax, he’d tried to trick people with a fake F-Zero game for the Gamecube (as seen in this compilation video) and a very unlikely looking new Mario platformer for the GBA:
Basically, if it’s been uploaded by Psycho3ler, it’s fake. Regardless of how realistic it looks.
But enough of Belmonte’s hoaxes for a bit. Let’s move onto one that’s almost become a part of gaming history by this point. Yes, we’re talking about…
4. Luigi in Super Mario 64
Cause remember the Purple Prizes hoax earlier? How Waluigi was apparently in Mario 64 DS and a magazine article was faked to support that?
Well, it took its inspiration from this much older story. The one where Luigi was apparently hidden in the original Super Mario 64.
Because you see, during Mario 64’s day, Nintendo fans were used to Luigi being pretty much everywhere. He was in Mario Bros, Super Mario Bros, both versions of Super Mario Bros 2, Super Mario Bros 3 and Super Mario World to name but a few, and he was always a playable character.
Above: Well, nearly all of them anyway.
So when he wasn’t anywhere to be found in Super Mario 64, people were suspicious.
And so the hunt for Luigi began, creating with it whole pages worth of fake unlock methods, hints, hoax videos and photoshopped screens. Mostly revolving around the statue in the courtyard. The infamous ‘L is real 2401’ statue.
This led to lots of deliberately obnoxious ‘methods’ based around that number being proposed. Like say, collecting 2401 coins in the game. Or running 2401 laps around the courtyard statue. Or doing something in Ocarina of Time, cause the exact same texture was used there too. Heck, some people tried to pretend it was a date and waiting that long would do something or another.
And it never really ended.
Oh sure, the hoaxes got less common after the Nintendo 64 era, but we still see the odd Youtube user trying to capitalise off the stories by putting up blatantly faked videos on Youtube. Like this lot:
Above: Some people never learn…
Either way, Nintendo at least took note of this speculation, since the man in green finally appeared in the game’s remake Super Mario 64 DS. Everyone was happy, no one tried to trick each other into believing anyone else was hidden in Super Mario 64…
*Sees Purple Prizes a few items up the list*
Never mind, moving on…
3. Sonic and Tails in Super Smash Bros Melee
To what might be the number one most well known Super Smash Bros hoax of all time.
Okay, it has some competition. There was the old story about unlocking Toad in Melee’s Adventure mode. Legions of fake secret characters in Super Smash Bros 64. The whole debacle about Rayman in Super Smash Bros 3DS. The list just goes on and on.
But the Sonic and Tails rumour is by far the most infamous. Posted by EGM in their April’s Day issue, the story goes that you’d unlock the duo by getting more than 20 KOs in Cruel Brawl. Which was a fair challenge, and one which quite a few people assumed would actually lead to some sort of reward.
Add some convincing looking pictures (for the time anyway), and you had a hoax that tricked an awful lot of people.
How many? Enough that Nintendo Power themselves decided to debunk it to try and stop people asking about the whole thing. Still, I guess someone at Nintendo must have seen it, since like with Luigi in Mario 64 DS, Sonic himself started making Super Smash Bros appearances as of Super Smash Bros Brawl.
Which is more than can be said for this lot…
2. The Pokegods in Pokemon Generation 1
Oh god, now we get into the reams and reams of rumours and lies and myths about the Pokemon series. Watch out everyone, this is going to get to a bit messy.
Why? Because Pokemon (at least in gen 1) came out at just the right time for rumours and urban legends and hoaxes to catch on in a big way. Remember, 1996 was the real early days of the internet. Forums were rare, wikis mostly non existent, social media didn’t exist in the sense it does today… Basically, what we had instead were legions of young fans running fan sites about the series and posting whatever the hell they heard from their friends and family rather than anything based on solid fact.
Heck, even Serebii.net wouldn’t be around for another 3 years.
And so it’s at this time the Pokegods thing took off. What were Pokegods? Well to put it simply, they were fake Pokemon that never existed in the actual games. Some were based on future generations, like Pikablu (Marill), Ho-oh and Snubble from Pokemon Gold and Silver. Some were logical extremes based on adaptions (Venustoise based on an anime scene, Mewthree based on the film’s Mecha Mewtwo). Some were just random crap people had made up based on other games and TV shows and comics and whatever else.
Heck, even Nintendo got in on the whole thing! They said you could unlock Luigi as a Pokemon in generation 1, at least in Nintendo Power! And Yoshi as an evolution of Dragonite! Thanks for misleading everyone Nintendo Power!
- Beat the Elite Four X number of times, with X being in the tens or hundreds.
- Beat the Elite Four with a certain Pokemon team, usually weak and rather useless ones
- Explore Bill’s Secret Garden, the blank space behind his house
- Get some mystery stone to evolve Pokemon that don’t usually evolve
- Talk to someone till something changes
- Sail into the ocean near the SS Anne, then go to an island/city/new region/etc.
- Explore the Hall of Fame after beating the Elite Four X number of times
To add to this, whole sites popped up which made fake Pokemon pictures with any sprite you could imagine. Like these obvious RPG rips:
Above: A few infamously fake examples.
It was an absolutely fascinating time, and it was interesting how much work some of these people would go to pretend to know ‘secrets’ about the games that no one else had information on. The average 90s Pokemon fan site must have held more deliberate falsehoods than every political campaign put together!
You can see even more of this sort of stuff here:
And talking of the early days of the internet, our final item on the list comes from then as well. So the greatest Nintendo hoax of all time is…
1. The Triforce in The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time
Yeah, you knew this was coming. The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time is on par with Pokemon Red and Blue in terms of how many ridiculous rumours and hoaxes seem to be associated with it. You’ve got the idea of beating the Running Man, complete with the clever yet insane idea of waiting seven in game years:
Above: No, it doesn’t work. Don’t waste your time trying it.
There was the Sky Temple, supposedly accessible by riding a flying pink cow (no really). And heck, even the legend of El Puerco (the pig), a strange pig enemy you could supposedly encounter in the race through Dampe’s Grave.
But the most infamous example in the world has to about getting (or seeing) the Triforce in the game. After all, that ‘slot’ on the inventory is just begging to be filled, right?
As you can guess, where there’s a mystery, there are pranksters and rumour mongers providing answers. These… ranged from the somewhat sane to the absolutely nuts. Like:
- Find a grotto hidden in Hyrule Castle town (maybe when ruined)
- Locate a secret entrance into Hyrule Castle where the Light Temple awaits
- Throw a bomb into the vortex under Ganon’s Castle
- Find a grotto somewhere in Hyrule field
- Fly to the Sky Temple on a purple cow
- Beat the running man
- Find the Unicorn Fountain
- Melt the ice in Zora’s Domain
- Beat the game really quickly
There are almost as many given ‘answers’ as there are rupees in the entire game. Some examples can be found here:
But one really got everyone’s attention. And that was the story by ‘Ariana’.
Basically, Ariana claimed to be a Colombian Zelda fan who’d found a way to enter the Light Temple and see the Triforce. This involved doing a bunch of stuff to learn a new song from Rauru (called the ‘Overture of Sages’), which would let Link get warped to the temple. He couldn’t obtain the Triforce there, but he could at least see it in the Sacred Realm before the events of the story broke it into pieces.
She even supplied some (obviously suspicious) pictures too:
Either way, it quickly turned out that these steps weren’t possible. People bugged ‘Ariana’ day and night about it, the letters between her and Zelda fan site HTLOZ got more and more frantic, until she eventually broke down and accepted the whole thing was a hoax. There’s a really good run through of the story here:
None the less, her claims fooled a LOT of people. Seriously, the fan sites (including Odyssey of Hyrule mentioned above) bought them hook, line and sinker, and the rest of the gaming world was going mad over the story too. People tried to debunk it by playing armchair detective, people tried to find the magic solution to get the song, people emailed sites and magazines everywhere about the idea.
It was quite honestly one of the best, most memorable Nintendo hoaxes ever. No wait, scratch that. It was one of the most memorable gaming hoaxes in general, since it was from a time where content could really lie unused in a game for decades before getting discovered. What would have been shot down in minutes in 2016 made for internet entertainment for months in 2000 or so.
As a result, Ariana’s Triforce hoax is the greatest Nintendo hoax of all time, and some of the other rumours in the same game are a very close second.
And so that concludes our list. Were there any notable examples of hoaxes we missed here? Do you think we got some facts wrong about the ones listed above? Got any other opinions to share on the subject?
If so, post them at the Gaming Reinvented forums or message us about it on Twitter now!
BEN (Haunted Majora’s Mask Cartridge)
Yeah, I considered including this one too. But fact of the matter is, it was likely invented as a ghost story first, believable hoax second. Seriously, it’s a Creepypasta. A really good one, sure. But no one with any semblance of sanity is going to actually think someone’s Nintendo 64 is haunted.
So it’s a fun story, but not really a hoax in the traditional sense.
The Laser Suit in Super Mario World
Another possible hoax I planned to include on the list was the one about the Laser Suit in Super Mario World. Basically, a video appeared on Youtube that appeared to show Mario entering a secret pipe in the Top Secret Area. From there, he reached the island above where he got given a special Laser Suit power up as a ‘gift from Nintendo’. Here’s the video in case you haven’t seen it:
Either way, it was a hack by someone called KPhoenix, who made the video to fool people on Youtube. If you actually want to play around with it, you can go and download the mod here:
Or find a (somewhat worse) copycat version as a sprite on SMW Central:
It didn’t get listed because I found the story just not as interesting or notable as some of the other inclusions here.
Various ‘Secret Levels’ in Super Mario World
There are quite a few of these fake videos about, like the ones below (the aforementioned Laser Suit video is technically an example too).
But to be honest? I thought they weren’t really interesting enough to be added to the list. Seriously, we know you can hack every Mario game under the sun now. Using Lunar Magic isn’t new nor interesting, unless you’re actually making a decent ROM hack with it.
Add Super Mario Bros X, the Hello Engine, various other fan game engines and Super Mario Maker into the picture, and videos like this really aren’t fooling anyone any more.
Lavender Town Syndrome, the Buried Alive model, Pokemon Creepy Black, Pokemon Lost Silver… they’re all stories that fooled quite a few gamers (and more casual Pokemon fans). But they weren’t included simply because like the BEN story, they were originally written as fiction rather than passed off as real secrets in the game.
A Mario Kart Illuminati Hoax
I.e. the early 2005 claims by someone calling themselves Serkan Honeine on the Mario Kart world records site, where he claimed to be part of a secret forum group of pro players that outraced the current world record holders and kept tons of strategies and shortcuts to themselves to stop the ‘n00bs’ using them.
It was a moderately interesting story, but people without much of an interest in Mario Kart may not have cared for it too much, so it didn’t make the list.