April Fools’ Day: Google Releases 8-Bit Version of Mapping Tool [Video]

Just in time for April Fool’s Day, Google has introduced Google Maps Quest, a 8-bit version of its mapping tool.

In a video Google introduces the new version for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), replete with finicky cartridge and 8-bit music.

“Google provides services for a wide range of devices from desktop computers to mobile devices including tablets,” Ken Tokusei, product management director at Google, said in the video.

“But we long neglected one of the most popular computer systems ever sold, and I’m here to introduce Google Maps 8-Bit version as a first product for NES.”

“With Google Maps 8-bit, you can do all the things you already do on regular Google Maps,” says Tatsuo Nomura, a Google software engineer, in a post on Google’s official Maps blog.

“Search for famous landmarks and sites around the world. Take an epic journey with 8-bit Street View. Get detailed directions to avoid dangerous paths, and battle your way through a world of powerful monsters and mystic treasures.”

If you want to test Quest from your computer, you can just head over to Google Maps and simply click the “Quest” box in the top right corner. Then, you’re whisked away to 8-bit land of maps. Be sure to try Street View in Quest mode.

According to the Huff Post, Google adds in its post that this will be the first NES cartridge released in almost 18 years and that there is already a version in development for the Game Boy.

The video demonstrates the process by which the Google Maps cartridge should be connected to the NES using a 56k dial-up modem.

The company’s representative also describes how the company was able to bring Nintendo’s legacy device to the Internet era: “We run more than a hundred thousand servers to overcome the NES’s technical limitations.”

The video shows a family using the cartridge and even explains that blowing into the cartridge will relieve any technical complications. Google Maps 8-bit version is completely functional on the Google Maps website, too, though it’s unclear for how long, writes The International Business Times.

“Our engineering team in Japan understood the importance of maps on retro game systems. With the power of Google’s immense data centers, and support from Nintendo and Square Enix, we were able to overcome the technical and design hurdles of developing 8-bit maps,” explains the company in its blog.

The maps look in a similar way to the classic NES role-playing game Dragon Warrior, which was known as Dragon Quest in Japan. Now users are able to view landmarks in 8-bit form, including The Statue of Liberty, the Washington Monument and Mount Rushmore. Fortunately, no Slimes were encountered during our journey.

Google has also posted a great video walkthrough on YouTube of the spoof application for NES, including troubleshooting tips such as “blowing on the cartridge.” “Please be mindful of dragons while playing,” Nomura jokes. “We wish you a safe and happy quest.”

As the Tucson Citizen reports, Google employees certainly love their classic Nintendo video games. Readers likely recall what happens when searching for “do a barrel roll,” a hidden tribute to the classic Star Fox 64.

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