March 31, 2012 -- Google got a one-day jump on April Fools' Day with the release of a prank version of its ubiquitous mapping application called Google Maps 8-bit for NES.
Yes, that stands for Nintendo Entertainment System, the popular gaming console of the mid-1980s. It's a highly pixellated view Google claimed was created by its Japanese engineering team, which understood the importance of maps on retro game systems.
The release is described as having "beautiful low-res graphics, simple and intuitive controls and a timeless soundtrack" on the Google Lat Long Blog by Tatsuo Nomura, Software Engineer, Google Maps.
"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."
A "limited trial view" can be called up by clicking the "quest" tab in the upper right of the Google Maps homepage.
A supporting instructional video completes the gag.
Google Maps 8-bit for NES
Google says it is going to release an NES game cartridge in the Google Store "as soon as possible," and that "a mobile version for Game Boy" is under development.
"Please be mindful of dragons while playing," warns Nomura. "We wish you a safe and happy quest."