Google Maps is a fantastic resource, whether you are using it to figure out your bearings or exploring the world through its Street View mode. But did you know it offers a lot beyond the mere utility features?
For some time now, developers have been using the Google Maps API to make cool games. Whether it’s figuring out where in the world a photos is taken from or diving from the skies towards the Statue of Liberty, Google Maps games are a whole lot of fun.
Here are a few you should be playing.
GeoGuessr is my favourite of all the Google Maps games. Its innate simplicity is what makes it so addictive.
The game start by putting you at some point on Earth, which is shown through the Street View mode. You can look around in all directions — doing which will offer some clues as to where you are. For example, a car driving on the right side of the road should tell you that you’re in a left-hand-drive country.
Once you have an idea of the location, pin it on the adjoining map of the world. How far you are from the actual location gives you a certain number of points. Do this for five rounds to total up your score, and then share the link with a friend for them to compete against your best score. You can even make it interesting by setting a time limit.
The famous ‘Pegman’ of Google Maps — that yellow stick figure — wants to be the next Felix Baumgartner. Head to the skies and jump, diverting Pegman through a series of gates, stars and bonus objects to get your wings.
In your freefall, you can control the character with the mouse or with the keyboard’s arrow keys. Personally, I found the keyboard to be a lot more precise than the mouse.
Map Dive starts you off diving over the Statue Of Liberty, and over three levels, you can progress to landing on the Burj Khalifa.
Although simple, it’s good fun, especially to see the map on the ground being updated in real time, getting more and more detailed as you get closer to Earth.
While browsing through Google Maps, I sometimes find myself thinking, “Man, that must be a really scenic drive.” Real World Racer may not let you stop and smell the roses, but it’s still a great racing game.
Playing from a top-down perspective, you are the red car and your bot opponents are white cars. The controls are pretty simple: up to accelerate, down to brake, and left and right to steer. The idea is to touch all the checkpoints in your path as you make your way to the finish line before anyone else.
There are a few tracks across the world that you can play on, or even mark your own start and end points (as long as they are less than 2 miles away). But I recommend you start with the Bondi Beach Run in Sydney, Australia as it’s a good beginner’s course.
And as maker Tom Scott puts it: “For maximum enjoyment, make ‘bvvv, bvvvvv’ noises as you accelerate and ‘EEEEE’ noises as you turn.”
Meant to be a showcase of everything Google Maps can do, Maps Cube is a really fun game that modernizes the classic ‘ball in a maze’ physical handheld games of yore.
Each of the eight levels in Maps Cube is about showing off one ability of Google Maps, such as checking in at the top-rated restaurants in a city or going from subway to subway or looking at real-time traffic data to figure out the best route.
The cube is a three-dimensional object and the little blue ball is controlled by your mouse. Point your cursor in a direction and the ball will follow. Follow the instructions to complete the objective in each level. Simple and fun!
A game I have reviewed in the past, Build With Chrome takes the joy of building Lego structures and puts it in a virtual 3D representation of the real world. Yeah, it’s just as much fun as it sounds!
Browse through a map of Australia, find a plot for yourself and start building your own house. There are plenty of Lego bricks at your disposal, in a variety of colours. Stack them up, throw in a door and a window, mess around with the roofing — it’s all the awesomeness of playing with Lego as a kid.
When you’re done, you can ‘publish’ your house for the whole world to check out. Unfortunately, you can’t save midway or edit after publishing, but hey, that doesn’t take away the entertainment value of Build With Chrome.
Got Any Favourites?
These are only the games that I have played and enjoyed, but I’m sure there are plenty more games based on Google Maps that are a blast. If you know of any or have developed one of your own, drop a line in the comments below so we can check it out!