Determined modder puts Google Maps on the NES


See the world in 8-bit

Hackers and modders have found ways to port all kinds of games, usually Doom, onto other systems. But a new video shows how one person managed to get Google Maps working on some old Nintendo hardware, complete with retro graphics.

Creator “ciciplusplus” posted to YouTube and Reddit today about the Google Maps they made for the Nintendo Entertainment System, or NES. (Thanks, Gizmodo.) In the short video, they show how, inspired by an old Google April Fool’s joke from 2012, they ended up creating a version of the world you can view in all its 8-bit glory.

Ciciplusplus made use of a few different methods to make their pixel dreams come to life. On the hardware side, they used a guide for creating a custom NES cartridge from YouTuber “TheRasteri,” in order to make a housed Raspberry Pi setup for the mod. And on the software side, Ciciplusplus found an old blog—coincidentally from 2012—that used Bing Maps’ aerial imaging to convert these omniscient overviews into tiled displays that looked similar to The Legend of Zelda.

The result is Google Maps, showcasing a rough layout of the world constructed in 8-bit, that seems accurate. They scroll around it a bit using the NES controller, and you can see little city markers pop up, in retro-styled font.

Is it a reasonable way to get directions from one city to the next? Probably not. But it’s a pretty interesting hack that I’d love to see expand out even more. I mean, a street view is probably a bit unrealistic right now, but who knows what the future might hold. We’ve now put Google Maps and even a full NES inside a cartridge, so anything’s possible.