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Sarasota Mapped in 8-Bit Google Glory

Google pulls its April Fools joke with an 8-bit map of the world.

If you ever felt like Sarasota was the perfect setting for a video game, maybe a little Zelda or Mario action, today's your day of wonderment and imagination.

Google activated an "upgrade" to its Google Maps site by displaying maps in an 8-bit version called Quest. It's a techie's and video game lover's delight for April Fools' Day.

That's 8-bit Nintendo technology from the 1980s. You know, the original Nintendo Entertainment System. (Kids, you can play these on your Wii, too, but it's just not the same.)

You can even see a StreetView 8-bit version of Sarasota. Check out what the Unconditional Surrender appears as in our gallery above. It's like Luigi celebrating Princess Peach being rescued from Bowser, crossing that mote to her castle on Bird Key. OK, I got carried away.

Take an 8-bit tour of various monuments and buildings throughout the city — some look better than others in 8-bit. City Hall is a blur while the  looks like it was made to host a Nintendo symphony.

Reddit.com has a running entry of landmarks around the world displayed in 8-bit, too.

The actual Nintendo game the maps pay homage to is Dragon Warrior, as USA Today points out.

Google even produced a video explaining its "new product" along with an official release on its Maps' Lat-Long blog:

In our pursuit of new digital frontiers, 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.

Our engineering team in Japan understood the importance of maps on retro game systems. With the power of Google’s immense data centers, and support from Nintendo and Square Enix, we were able to overcome the technical and design hurdles of developing 8-bit maps. Today, we’re excited to announce the result: a version of Google Maps for NES, with beautiful low-res graphics, simple and intuitive controls, and a timeless soundtrack.

I've never played that game, but it appears quite a few have as there is a very, very dedicated Dragon Warrior Wikipedia entry detailing the plot, game play and anything else you wish you didn't know.

Give it whirl for a few minutes today for a laugh.

See a great Sarasota landmark in 8-bit? Take a screen shot and upload it to Sarasota Patch!

Charles Schelle (Editor) April 02, 2012 at 09:59 PM
Looks like the Quest map still works today, so feel free to see Sarasota through 1980s Nintendo eyes.

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