8-Bit map of Skegness released by Google for April Fool prank

Copyright - Google 2012, Square ENIX.
Copyright - Google 2012, Square ENIX.

GOOGLE has unveiled a ‘new-look’ map of the world to mark April Fool’s day, which has made the Earth’s rivers, towns and mountains appear as they would have done when viewed on the 8-bit NES games console of the 1980s.

The web giant has gone to incredible detail, revamping its traditional Google Maps application to create a ‘Quest’ map, which apes the imagery of the classic NES game ‘Dragon Quest’.

Copyright - Google 2012, Square ENIX

Copyright - Google 2012, Square ENIX

As well as being able to view Skegness, Spilsby, Alford and other local towns in all their 8-bit glory, the IT giant has even gone so far as digitising its Street View app so you can view your home address as if it were an 8-bit computer game graphic.

To mark the prank, the giant has also released a video on YouTube in which it apologises for too long neglecting to bring a map application out for the NES.

Speaking in the video, Ken Takusei the ‘Product Management Director behind the map, said: “Google provides services for a wide range of devices... but we’ve long neglected one of the most popular games consoles ever sold and I am here to introduce Google Maps 8-bit version for NES.”

The tongue-in-cheek video uses 80s-style games console music and even explains that you may need to blow into the special Google NES cartridge if it locks-up or glitches - a technique that will be very familiar to millions of old-school gamers around the world.

Tatsuo Nomura, Software Engineer at Google Maps, also appears in the video.

Writing on his blog he added: “In our pursuit of new digital frontiers, we realised that we may have left behind a large number of users who couldn’t access Google Maps on their classic hardware.

“Surprisingly, the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) was unsupported, despite its tremendous popularity with over 60 million units sold worldwide.

“With Google Maps 8-bit, you can do all the things you already do on regular Google Maps.

“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.

“As the first NES cartridge to be released in nearly 18 years, we’re working hard to make Google Maps 8-bit for NES available in the Google Store as soon as possible. A mobile version for Game Boy is also under development.

“For those who are eager to try Google Maps 8-bit now, we’ve made a limited trial available on desktop: just click the “Quest” box in the top right corner of Google Maps to get started. Please be mindful of dragons while playing. We wish you a safe and happy quest.”