A playable Google Logo?! That’s exactly what Google has created today, in celebration of the 30th anniversary of Pac-Man’s Japanese release. The Google Doodle (Google’s term for its event and holiday-specific logos, see here) is accessible on its main page and is a full 255-level game complete with a 256th level “kill screen,” just like the original coin-op.
The Google version brings back all the elements of the original game, such as the ghosts, the fruits, and even the kill screen on level 256—and will be playable all weekend long, starting right now. Go play at Google.
The logo on Google’s main search page has been sporting doodles to commemorate various events since 1998, most recently a doodle celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Hubble Space Telescope.
“I think it is really authentic in commemorating the game in its original form,” said Wendy Rozeluk of Google Canada. Months in the making, Google worked with Bandai Namco Games, the original developers of PacMan, to develop their first interactive doodle to ensure it kept all of the game’s original features intact: for better or worse.
Former Pac-Man addicts may recall that making it all the way to level 256 meant hitting a kill screen, where half the screen gets replaced with a garbled mess of characters. Users can expect the same anti-climactic frustration on the Google version, though at least they won’t be out of quarter. The game will be playable on most smartphones as well, allowing players the ability to tap around and swipe at their touch-screens to simulate joystick movements.
Although having an interactive doodle means people can potentially spend countless hours on the Google homepage without ever typing a search query, don’t expect Google to take economic advantage of lingering gamers by inserting new ads or text on the homepage.
“We’re a company that likes to have fun and this is an example of something we’re just having fun with,” Ms. Rozeluk said. “We’ll still have a lot of the white space and it is really just the doodle that is changing.”