Arika’s Absolutely Awesome April Fool’s Prank that Wasn’t

You shouldn’t upload legitimate and possibly mind blowing announcements on April 1st. Everyone already expects some kind of trolling on the Internet on this special day and people are extra skeptical during April Fool’s Day. But then again, maybe you should because you can generate hype and excitement by showing something spectacular and fans will think it’s fake and lament on what a cruel joke it was. Maybe this is Arika’s plan all along when they decided to release the “April Fool’s Joke” that seemed to be a new Street Fighter EX game.

I myself didn’t think it was real and just an elaborate but extremely well made prank. Even the official video showing the gameplay footage said it was an April Fool’s joke. But if it was a joke, it was a cruel one as it looked incredibly good! It looked like something that Arika had been working on for quite a while. There seemed to be some really crazy fight mechanics and the footage didn’t look pre-rendered. A part of me really wanted this to be real… and it turns out Arika pulled the wool over our eyes by announcing the footage to be a prank… and then revealing that it wasn’t! It was Arika’s new fighting game and it’s going to be a legit game!

But the prank didn’t end there. When it was revealed that it was a real game, people were so amazed that Arika was getting around to making a new entry to the Street Fighter EX series. Street Fighter EX was, in the simplest of terms, a 3D version of Street Fighter. Capcom basically farmed out development of a 3D version of Street Fighter to Arika because… they wanted a 3D fighter because it was the trend at the time. After all, this was when games like Virtua Fighter, Tekken and Dead or Alive came to be. Capcom must’ve thought they needed to, at least, have one of their games move away from the sprite game style and move into the third dimension.

Many fans have mixed feelings for the weird bastard son of the Street Fighter franchise. There was a lot of things to dislike with the Street Fighter EX series. The graphics were a huge step down from their competitors. The gameplay was kind of slow. Also, the idea of an endless playfield may work for Tekken, where you had to get close to actually attack your opponent. But when you can chuck fireballs from a distance, it made fights really long.

The worst “sin” the EX series committed is that it just wasn’t as good as the “main” Street Fighter games. In all fairness, the Street Fighter EX games were fun in their own way. Arika implemented a few interesting gameplay mechanics like universal guard breaks and comboing supers into another super attack. I actually loved some of the character designs, even if they did look like a mess of cubes when they were rendered in the game. I love the look of Doctrine Dark and, of course, Skullomania. Who could forget Skullomania? That guy was awesomeness personified! And I say that without the slightest hint of sarcasm. Heck, I wished they made Skullomania the main hero of the EX series instead of Ryu and Ken!

But back to Arika’s video that was released on April 1st. When fans realized it was real, they went berserk with hype. People could not fathom that Arika managed to get Capcom’s consent to make another EX game. They couldn’t believe that there was going to be a new Street Fighter EX after the property had been laying dormant since 2001 with Street Figther EX 3. Well, it turns out they weren’t making EX 4!

The footage Arika actually revealed wasn’t for a new Street Fighter EX game. Rather, the game will be called Fighting Layer EX, which is a sequel to Fighting Layer. If you haven’t heard of the first Fighting Layer, I don’t think anyone would blame you. It was a fighting game that used a lot of elements from the Street Fighter EX series but it was never released outside of Japan. Not only that, it was only released in arcades. Fighting Layer never got a proper port to consoles, which pretty much sealed its fate and it just faded into obscurity. Only the really hardcore of the hardcore fighting game community know about the game. As much as I would like to say I knew about Fighting Layer, I didn’t. And I consider myself a longtime member of the fighting game community!

The weird thing is Fighting Layer had a couple of characters, namely Blair Dame and Allen Snider, who appeared in the Street Fighter EX series. But it was just them. The characters that Arika showed in their Fighting Layer EX April Fool’s announcement didn’t feature them. The announcement video showed Kairi, Hokuto and Garuda, three characters that only appeared in Capcom’s fighting game. So, it was only natural to assume that the prank was for a sequel to Street Fighter EX.

And this is how the April Fool’s joke, which wasn’t an April Fool’s joke at all, became a hype generating tool for Arika’s upcoming Fighting Layer EX game. As I mentioned, only the truly dedicated fighting game fanatic has any knowledge of Arika’s fighting game. But after that April Fool’s “prank,” everyone knows about it!

Arika capitalized on the nostalgic memory some fans have for Street Fighter EX to get it noticed. It also timed it when people were generally more aware when something may be fake. And it featured actual gameplay footage, showing the world that this game has been in production for some time. This mixture of three things combined to create a perfect storm of hype, which is what an announcement trailer should do. My hat’s off to you, Arika. I may not have totally enjoyed Street Fighter EX, but I am incredibly hyped for Fighting Layer EX.

Now, when are you guys going to release the first Fighting Layer on the PlayStation Store?

What do you think of how Arika announced their upcoming game? Let me know in the comments section below!

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