For Google, April Fool’s Day comes a day early, and the company has been known to take its April Fool’s projects — pranks seems reductive here — seriously in the past.
This year is no exception. The company has embedded the classic arcade game Ms. Pac-Man into Google Maps, allowing players to virtually roam city streets to snag dots and avoid ghosts. How to play, you ask?
All you’ve got to do is open up the Google Maps app and hit the big button in the lower right with Ms. Pac Man’s face on it. That will start up a game centered on whatever screen you’re currently looking at: you’ll probably start by playing in your real neighborhood, but you can head anywhere in the world to give other roads a shot. Cities are generally a better bet.
Google did this once before, actually, in 2015. It’s no stranger to embedding games as part of its Doodle program and elsewhere, from other versions of Pac-Man to a Halloween game, Starcraft and more.
Most of Google’s games quick little distractions, but I think that the fact that the company is bringing Pac-Man back shows that the idea has real legs. Why not turn it into a genuine game? We remember that Pokémon GO started out as an April Fools’ concept before Niantic fleshed it out into the full-fledged game we have today. Why not do the same thing for Pac-Man? You’d have to tweak it so you didn’t have people sprinting across busy intersections to avoid Inky and Clyde, but Pokémon GO faced similar challenges. Niantic showed us only the beginnings of what AR games in Google Maps are capable of — I’d like to see more.