April Fools: Google fills HUGE gap with 8-bit Google Map

Google kicked off its usual April Fools’ Day barrage of gags early with a least a temporary option to turn Google Maps into 8-bit images remindful of those from Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) games.

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Google jumped the gun a bit with this prank, perhaps figuring that with April 1 falling on a Sunday this year that fewer Web surfers would stumble across its pranks.

In a blog post issued Saturday, Google software engineer Tatsuo Nomura wrote:

“In our pursuit of new digital frontiers, we realized 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. 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. Today, we’re excited to announce the result: a version of Google Maps for NES, with beautiful low-res graphics, simple and intuitive controls, and a timeless soundtrack.”

Game Boy devotees don’t be distressed: Google pledges it is working on a system for you as well.

Meanwhile, for those who can’t quite put their fingers on their Nintendo systems, you can just head over to Google Maps and hit the Quest box in the top right corner of the page to get a glimpse of your favorite spots in their 8-bit glory.

Bob Brown tracks network research in his Alpha Doggs blog and Facebook page, as well on Twitter and Google +.

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