Or: how an April Fool's joke can become infamous.
Waluigi's trickery knows no boundaries. Such is his presence on the gaming world that our own Andrew Brown decided to prank the world into believing that Waluigi was indeed in Super Mario 64 DS, just like many had convinced us that Luigi was in the original Super Mario 64. But Waluigi is so sneaky that it seems that the joke's on Andrew. Check out this story on how an urban legend came to be. - Pedro Hernandez
I'm going to tell you a story about a certain piece of artwork that somehow became famous.
After graduating from a multimedia course involving 3D modeling and animation a few years ago, I entered an obsessive phase of endlessly churning out 3D fan art, trying to replicate characters as best I could within my own humble polygon-crafting skills. Around March 2005, Super Mario 64 DS had been out in Australia for about a month, and I was enamored by the improvements over the original game.
I thought back to the time of the original N64 game's release, and the countless claims that Luigi was somehow included as an unlockable character had choked the internet left right and center. There were so many doctored screenshots of varying quality, some went so far as to place a pre-rendered artwork scan of Luigi in his Mario Kart 64 go-kart onto Bobomb Battlefield.
I enjoyed the absurdity of the thing and reading the ridiculously lengthy instructions on how to unlock him in their games, and I wanted to replicate that with my own parody for the new generation, a kind of homage to the campy legacy. After all, Mario, Luigi and Wario all made an appearance in the game's remake, what was the next logical step?
I opened up my old LightWave 5.6 3D software began the process of building a simplified, blocky model of Waluigi that I could position into various poses, while trying to match the low polygon models seen in the game. Despite some challenges like the amount of fingerless balooning that his hands should have to match the other characters, and some textures that somehow sported too much anti-aliasing (such as the Ls on his gloves), I think I did a halfway decent job. Heck, on my crappy old PC monitor the purple of his clothes even matched the color seen on the official artwork in the top right of the page there. While writing this feature I've searched for the original .lwo 3D model file, but alas, it has been lost into the void of my countless old backup CDs.
Using some PhotoShop trickery with copy and paste techniques, I crafted a bunch of screenshots and layered the model renders in his various poses over the top. I thought up some examples of special abilities and Power Flower affects that would befit Waluigi and set him apart from the other playable characters in the game, and concocted an elaborate checklist of conditions to meet before he would appear in the game. Finally, my work was complete. I was a little concerned about the amount of unused white space at the bottom of the page, but April 1st was fast approaching and I didn't want to make it too believable.
I posted the picture onto my DeviantArt account with a deliberately poorly-written story of how "i found it in sum gamer magazeen and scaned it lolz", and with sneakiness to rival the purple clad character himself, distributed it around to a couple of smalltime gaming forums.
A week or so later, my friend whose host server I had uploaded the image to came at my throat, ranting about a sudden spike in traffic that massively exceeded their monthly allocation, resulting in a large penalty charge. Research showed that the image had spread like wildfire and had been hot-linked on dozens of pages, particularly one popular Chinese site where a large portion of the hits had come from. The image, which I simply titled "Waluigi in Super Mario 64 DS", had been unofficially renamed "Purple Prizes" after the "article" page I had supposedly scanned it from, and mention of it was popping up all over the place. Some had even said that it had been featured on IGN, and was rumored to be in one old issue of Nintendo Power (which isn't published or sold here and I've been unable to properly confirm).
The weeks became months, then years, and the topic was still hotly being debated on bulletin boards, chat rooms and gaming blogs. People had begun to decide it completely necessary to comment on my DeviantArt gallery, warning people to "Beware, this is fake! I saw it on this gaming site and it's not real, it's a hoax!!" even though just 2 days after posting it I had clearly stated for all to see that it was indeed a fabrication of my very own and detailed the process behind making it.
It got scarier. With the introduction of YouTube and its rise in popularity, several videos pointing out the "flaws" that "proved it was a fake" emerged, in which the posters meticulously comb over every pixel searching for telltale clues of the picture's forgery. What's really hilarious is that most of the reasoning that's mentioned is based on their wild imaginations. Claims that the 3D model had a yellow C on Waluigi's hat rather than an upside down L, Waluigi's buttons being the wrong color, claims that it was impossible to defeat the Chain Chomp wearing Waluigi's hat, the list went on. Most of these accusations stemmed from the unintended anti-aliasing and pixelation of the renders, which was amplified when they zoomed in to such an extent.
Hilariously, they even started to point out parts of the images that had no manipulation done to them whatsoever, such as the yellow tone of Wario's hat on the overhead map screenshot or the type of hat the Goomba was wearing in the background of the snow picture. My favorite was in reference to the pic of Waluigi sleeping in the center, "Also this hall is from Super Mario 64...FOR THE N64". Was this person unaware that the DS version of the game was a remake featuring mostly the same areas as the original game? The screenshot I used was most definitely taken from the DS version, not the original.
And finally, this year, the whole thing has come full circle; somebody on DeviantArt actually posted my picture on their own gallery, with a claim that they found it in a gaming magazine and scanned it for the benefit of all who see.
There are still many remnants of this craze circling the net now, you're welcome to Google "Purple Prizes" and see what comes up. If you're one of the people who was angered by this back in the day, I encourage you to do better and show me.
My art skills have improved considerably in the six years since then and I'm always contemplating trying a new trick to see if I can garner the same reaction. Any suggestions?