Sure, it's a little early to call winners, but not many tech companies will be able to top Google's genuinely clever, fun, and novel approach to April Fools Day 2012. Any other gag will seem a little half-hearted after Google's 8-bit maps view, which reminds the nostalgic of games like early Dragon Quest or Final Fantasy.
The Google Maps team put up an introductory post for the new view this morning, explaining "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." In the accompanying video, Google's engineering team explains how it adapted the NES' outdated hardware to connect to Google's servers. "Blow on the cartridge to fix bugs," Totsuo Nomura, software engineer, deadpans.
Connect your NES to Google maps!
For those without a working NES handy, you can sample the pixelated user interface by going to google maps and clicking on the box in the top right corner labeled “quest”.Features like directions, zoom levels and even street view still work more or less like normal, though smaller streets don't show up thanks to the size of the old-school pixel tiles.
Paris, France in Google maps for NES
You could easily waste your entire day searching the map for hand-drawn, pixel art versions of many famous landmarks (and even some not-so-famous ones), but if you want to save some time blogger Ben Garvey has created a pretty thorough cheat sheet of notable places. Google says there are even some fictional monsters hidden within the Quest view—Senior Games Editor Kyle Orland found one here if you don't mind spoiling the hunt.