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April Fools' Day 2015: Google Letting You Play Pac-Man On Google Maps

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It's amazing to think that Pac-Man is 35 years old and still as fun and entertaining as when it debuted in 1980 as an arcade game.

Except today, and likely most of tomorrow (which happens to be April Fools' Day), you can relive the thrill of chomping your way around a maze, gobbling up pac-dots (aka pellets), while being chased by Blinky, Inky, Pinky and Clyde, right at your desktop or on that smartphone or any other mobile device where you can pull up Google Maps.

Anywhere you can access Google Maps, you can get a game of Pac-Man going. That's because the search giant turned Maps into a quasi Pac-Man game board sometime on Tuesday and immediately sent gamers into a frenzy and likely cut U.S. work productivity a big notch or two given how easy it is to get gaming.

You control Pac-Man on a PC by using the keys on the keyboard (press two keys and you can even move diagonally, a nice improvement over the original game format). On a mobile device, you use finger swipes to change Pac-Man's direction.

Each game gives the player five lives and then the game's over. But you can play again.

The one catch is that Pac-Man isn't available everywhere in the world via Maps. You need to search around a bit or figure out the clues Google provides to help find a mapped area with a click on the Pac-Man pin that pops up.

Here are a few clues for places you'll find a Pac-Man game:

  • Don't drop the ball on the eve of your victory!
  • Does a Galaxian bonus await at the top of those 272 steps?
  • After a chat with the Sphinx, Pac-Man sounds more like "Dokki Dokki."
  • Previous Pac-Man lives don't get to rest in a white marble mausoleum.

"Welcome, Player 1! You can now play the classic arcade game Pac-Man in Google Maps with streets as your maze. Avoid Blinky, Pinky, Inky (and Clyde!) as you swerve the streets of some famous places around the world. But eat the pac-dots fast, because this game will only be around for a little while," states Laura, a Google Maps expert and author of the Pac-Man help page.

If you're having a bit trouble remembering how to play, it's pretty simple. Pac-Man needs to eat the pink flesh-colored power pellets in order to attack the ghosts, so avoid the four ghosts until Pac-Man's got some energy. Beware of flashing ghosts, which means they're about to change back to their "dangerous" status.

Some media reports seem to view the arrival of Pac-Man on Google Maps as the search company's way of celebrating April Fools' Day, and in that way, the game may just disappear at some point on April 1.

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