Ahead of April Fool's Day, Google quietly slipped a clever Easter egg into Google Maps on Tuesday, allowing users to click a layer to see Pac-Man chase cherries and ghosts all over actual city streets. The maps will be available in Pac-Man mode for about another week, Google says.
Although not every location in the Los Angeles area is accessible to the little yellow dot, and there are a few glitches (don't even get us started on how there's no Ms. Pac-Man), it's pretty fun to see the retro game played out next to major L.A.-area landmarks. But navigating some streets can be tough. Here are a few locations where amateurs need not apply.
OK, to be honest, Google doesn't let Pac-Man round the bases, so this is actually the massive Dodger Stadium parking lot. As anyone who has ever gotten lost after a game and a couple beers can tell you, there are lots and lots and lots of rows of parking running down the hill. That means lots of turns for the little yellow guy to miss, and corners where he can get trapped. Unless your name has been up on that video arcade scoreboard, you'll probably strike out here.
Santa Monica Pier Play it!
Sure, the long, straight pier looks like a piece of cake, but there's a little ghost guarding that scenic circle at the end and it takes impeccable timing to avoid him. There are also plenty of weird turns along the bike path and a series of hairpins through the massive parking lot. It's no beach picnic.
Mulholland Drive Play it!
As if the famous road weren't twisty enough, the "Pac-Man" game also includes hiking paths such as the Betty B. Dearing Trail, which has switchbacks running through the hills above the overlook spots. Running to the edge of the map also won't necessarily get you where you want go to (the other side of the map, where all those tasty dots are).
Again, rows and rows of stadium parking do not a successful Pac-Man make. Even if you don't die in a ghost traffic jam, negotiating the awkward turns on a non-grid "Pac-Man" course is courting disaster. Unless you're a champion "Pac-Man" player, nothing's coming up roses for you here.
With no obvious way to tilt the grid, you need to make diagonal turns with your up, down, left, and right arrows, and most of the time it doesn't work out. Even if you were able to rotate the streetscape, the winding part of Santa Monica Boulevard can throw you for a loop, and don't even ask how you're supposed to get through that little circle in the middle of Beverly Gardens Park.
Looking for Easy Street?
If you're as bad at "Pac-Man" as I am, it's not technically cheating if you try these other Los Angeles-area locales to level up faster:
Everything's easier in Pasadena, isn't it? With its wide boulevards and straightforward grids, Pac-Man will have no problem here.
The tilted grid can still be challenging, but there's room to roam and lots of routes through the downtown L.A. park. Just watch out for the tangled mess near the park's big fountain.
The Getty Museum
It can't be cheating if Google actually lets you play here, right? With only two roads -- Beverly Park Drive and Getty Center Drive -- it can be tricky if you get trapped, but easy to level up if you are effective at luring the ghosts away and grabbing all the cherries and those power pellets that let you eat up the ghosts before they eat you. Plus, Pac-Man requires minimal steering here and mostly bumps along the winding path without getting stuck.
If you like that I sometimes play games online for work, follow me @cmaiduc
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