I celebrated April Fools in 2021 with an article about a 1999 April Fools video game magazine joke I read as a kid. According to the joke, purportedly submitted by J. Ester from the Net (I see what they just did there), it was possible to evolve a Dragonite into Yoshi in the original generation 1 Pokémon games. I remembered the joke and even some of the specific steps 22 years after having first read it (fear not, however, I did not actually try the joke). But there was one thing I struggled to remember.
The game magazine.
I regularly read a number of video game magazines as a kid. I had a Nintendo Power subscription (which I originally wanted because it came with a special Nintendo Power Pokémon Red and Blue strategy guide), but I read several others including, but probably not limited to, Electronic Gaming Monthly, Game Informer, and Game Pro.
In fact, we will see that the not limited to is significant.
I originally thought that the Yoshi prank was from Electronic Gaming Monthly, heretofore EGM. This is because EGM was notorious for its April Fools jokes – I featured my two favorites from when I was a reader in a 2022 April Fools article. However, cursory research caused me to change the first draft of my article because I discovered that it was not, in fact, EGM.
I found information indicating that the Yoshi joke showed up in Nintendo Power. That made some sense. Nintendo Power also liked April Fools jokes and I read Nintendo Power more regularly than any other game magazine on account of my having a subscription. I went with Nintendo Power.
However, on the morning of January 5, 2023, I read an article on the PokéGods, which I covered in another one of my 1999 memories articles, at a Substack blog called the Johto Times, which is devoted to memories from Pokémon’s early days in North America. The well-researched piece indicated that I had made an error:
Another PokéGod that appeared in printed media was in issue 58 (April 1999) of Expert Gamer. A reader credited as J. Ester submitted a method of obtaining Yoshi, a PokéGod that could evolve from Dragonite by beating the game and obtaining all 150 Pokémon. A copy of Red and Blue was required to trade Dratini back and forth and evolve it into Dragonite. Then, the player would need to head to the Unknown Dungeon and stand where Mewtwo originally was. Finally, the player would need to use a Fire Stone on the Dragonite and it would evolve into Yoshi.Johto Times
Uh oh. Expert Gamer.
Seeing the magazine name Expert Gamer does ring a bell. I do not have vivid memories of Expert Gamer like I do of the magazines I mentioned previously, but I remember it being around.
Well, it turned our that I do have one specific memory of Expert Gamer – but I failed to credit it .
Johto Times does good, careful, classic Pokémon research, but before I went through the trouble of editing an article that has actually performed decently well (by our modest standards), I wanted to double check the information to confirm it for myself. I personally never associated the Yoshi prank with the PokéGods back in 1999 (note that these sorts of Pokémon urban legends varied depending on what one’s classmates came to school with, as I explained in my article on Bill’s Secret Dungeon or Garden), but apparently Yoshi was in the pantheon in some accounts. I navigated to Bulbapedia’s page on the PokéGods and looked for a Yoshi section. Bulbapedia credited the Yoshi prank to Expert Gamer and included a footnote. The footnote link went to the April 1999 issue of Expert Gamer on the Internet Archive, and sure enough, you can see the Yoshi prank on page 46.
I also found one article that credited it to both Expert Gamer and Nintendo Power, but that was in error. The Yoshi prank is totally the creation of Mr. or Ms. J. Ester of Expert Gamer.
Having realized my error, I have re-named my Yoshi-Dragonite article and made the necessary corrections. However, being the forthright perennially virid online magazine editor that I am, I have added an editor’s note explaining the article history with a link to this article and a link to the archived version of my original Yoshi-Dragonite piece. Fortunately, I did have the correct version of the magazine article, so my discussion about the joke itself was on point. Note that all links to the original URL should gracefully redirect to the new URL.
(PS: You may note both the Johto Times article and the Bulbapedia entry referenced an actual Nintendo Power April Fools joke from that year. All I will say for now is that it rings a vague bell and you should expect to find a piece about it here at The New Leaf Journal on April 1, 2024.)