Pac-Man in Lan Kwai Fong: Google Maps rolls out arcade game feature for April Fool's Day

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 01 April, 2015, 1:14am
UPDATED : Friday, 17 April, 2015, 4:01pm

Visitors to Google Maps on April Fool's Day will be able to take advantage of a new feature which allows them to play the classic arcade game Pac-Man on streets around the world.

The feature, which works wherever there are sufficient streets and intersections to form a Pac-Man style grid, transforms aerial maps into the familiar maze of ghosts, dots and circular hero.

This is not the first time Google has rolled out a special feature for April Fool's Day. Last year, the company partnered with Japanese gaming giant Nintendo to allow users to "catch" Pokemon around the world, with the most prolific hunters being sent an official Pokemon Masters' business card.

Away from mapping, the company has also previewed plans to build research centres on Mars and the Moon, unveiled the "Google Gulp" search engine-powered energy drink, and encouraged users to sign up for the Google Romance dating app.

Google has become so well known for pranks that in 2004 it tricked fans around the world by launching a service on April 1st that wasn't a hoax. The search giant announced to an unbelieving public that it was launching a free email service with 1,000 megabytes of storage, far more than competitors at the time. This service was Gmail, which would go on to become the most popular email service in the world.

“Journalists would call us and say, 'We need to know if you’re just kidding, or if this is real',” Georges Harik, director of Google's in-house start-up incubator, recalled years later. “That was fun.”

“Even years later, [Google co-founder Sergey] Brin still relished the reverse spin – tricking people by not hoaxing,” Steven Levy wrote in his 2011 profile of the company In the Plex.