Video shows original NES modified to run retro-style Google Maps

Brittany A. Roston - Aug 28, 2021, 9:19am CDT
Video shows original NES modified to run retro-style Google Maps

Nearly a decade ago, Google published a video for April Fool’s Day that showed an 8-bit version of Google Maps made for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). That, of course, was a joke, but it inspired some actual DIYers to try and make a real-life version of the amusing concept.

A YouTuber who goes by the name ‘ciciplusplus’ recently published a video showing an 8-bit version of Google Maps running on a modified NES console. The work wasn’t done alone, technically — the creator notes that he was inspired by a previous project involving 8-bit Bing Maps tiles brought to the old school Nintendo console.

Ciciplusplus demonstrated the NES running an 8-bit version of Google Maps — he notes that it takes the console half a minute to load and connect to the server. Once it finally boots up, a very retro-style Google Maps appears on the screen; the original controller can be used to move the map around, zoom in, and zoom in.

The NES Google Maps ‘game’ doesn’t include a search function, though a concept of how that feature would look is offered. Users can, however, manually scroll to different places on the map, then zoom in on places to see the 8-bit tiles for cities, as well as neighboring regions.

The project involved generating an 8-bit-like image tile that shows a rudimentary version of a particular landscape complete with desserts, trees, and water. A cartridge and tile server were used for the project, as well as a Raspberry Pi.

As you’d expect, the process of scrolling around the 8-bit Google Maps game isn’t exactly a fast process. Ciciplusplus calls this project a proof of concept, noting that it needs to be improved — an effort the wider mod community can help with if they’d like to participate.


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