Make no mistake; this is not an April Fool’s joke. If you manage to go on Google Maps sometime around April Fool’s Day, you’ll be able to transform the street of your choosing into a maze filled with power pellets and ghosts and play a classic game of Pac-Man. Whether you want Pac-Man to travel down Brady Street, circle around the North Point Water Tower, zoom across the Googleplex, see the sights at the Arc de Triomphe, or even surf the sands around the Great Sphinx, you can do all that and more through Google Maps.
This isn’t the first time Google has incorporated video games into its search engine. Last year during April Fool’s Day, you were able to catch Pokémon by searching around famous locations on Google Maps. And on May 21, 2010, the site celebrated the 30th anniversary of the iconic yellow circle by turning their logo into a working game of Pac-Man, which is said to have had around 505 million users playing it which wasted five million hours of working time and cost the economy around $120 million dollars.
Google’s support page gives you clues on the best places to go for a game of Pac-Man (marked by a blue waypoint). But for those of you too busy (or lazy) to decipher the clues, I’m going to give you my personal best places on Google Maps to play Pac-Man (including ones suggested by google and ones that I have found myself). Just copy the addresses next to each entry and paste it into the Google Maps search bar to get to each map.
Our Beautiful Campus- University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Experience college life through Pac-Man’s eyes with this map based on our beloved campus. The tight paths, twists and turns, and the forks in the road allow us to better evade ghosts. But just like a freshman travelling through school on the first day, you can easily get lost and disoriented.
The White House- Washington, DC
Those looking for a more patriotic setting will feel right at home on this map. Much like UW-Milwaukee, the map features many twists and turns. However, it’s a lot less cramped and tight than our campus, making for more strategic and less frustrating gameplay. If you find yourself getting stuck in the circles in Lafayette Field (at the top of the map), try hitting two arrow keys that are next to each other (like up and right). You can also move up diagonal paths this way.
Times Square- Manhattan, NY
After more outrageous and complex maps, the heart of the big apple provides a well needed respite. The familiar, wide, and grid-shaped structure is easy to navigate. However, the map is diagonal, giving the map a unique but accessible twist. Be careful not to get cornered by two ghosts on each side in the straightaways. Again, try hitting two arrow keys next to each other (like up and right) to go up a diagonal street. And if you go down a street and off the map, you can come out on the other side!
Shimokitazawa- Tokyo, Japan
This Tokyo neighborhood may look intimidating at first, but the mostly horizontal/vertical, grid-like layout of the map makes navigation easier than most other maps of this complexity. Be sure to click the blue waypoint for the best results.
I’ve found that the maps packed with rows and rows of streets (such as the parking lot of the Dodger Stadium in LA) to be too large for the ghosts to chase you, killing the challenge and making pellet collecting a chore. But because of the multiple areas where you can go off the map and warp to the other side, the map retains its high density of streets while also allowing the ghosts to catch you. The warp areas also give you a lot of opportunities to evade them, however.
I wonder if the power pellets are actually takoyaki?
Plaza Del Ejecutivo- Mexico City, Mexico
The uniform, spiderweb-like layout of this map makes it easier to plan movement, but executing those movements may be a bit tricky due to the diagonal streets. I find that holding the key of your desired direction before crossing a street you want to turn on allows your movements to be much more accurate.
And just like Shimokitazawa, the warp areas that take you to the other side of the map make it easier to evade ghosts but also makes it easier for the ghosts to ambush you.
Taj Mahal- Uttar Pradesh, India
India has given the world many great things: Mohandas Gandhi, yoga, Bollywood, tea, spices, chicken tikka masala, and the site for by far the best place to play Pac-Man. This is one of the few locations that provides a map that’s similar to that of the original game. The symmetrical layout of the map makes strategizing movements far easier while the many corners and intersections allow for players to better evade ghosts while also allowing ghosts to better chase and ambush you, providing the perfect balance of accessibility and challenge. The only problem is that there are no power pellets, but the map is still a joy to play in.
This is a brilliant idea for Google Maps that is very well executed. While many locations provide better maps than other locations and the controls can be a bit finicky, the number of possible maps is staggering and the emulation of the classic game is spot on – right down to the personalities of the ghosts. And there’s an undeniable charm of having Pac-Man travel down your favorite streets. Even if it costs the economy another $120 million, it will be well worth it.
The game will only be around for a little while longer, so play it while you can!