Google Maps is one of the many Internet-powered services we have come to take for granted. When was the last time you remembered how easy it is now is to find the best way to get from A to B thanks to Google Maps? As someone who grew up in a time before the Web became the mainstream behemoth it is today, I try and remind myself often how banal tasks have been made much easier.
This means I don’t mind when Google releases a commercial for Google Maps but dresses it up as a fun little game. Better that than there be no Google Maps at all. And lest we forget the glory that is Street View, another layer which most of us take for granted but which is a stunning innovation.
Google recently unveiled Cube, a new WebGL-based game based on (and promoting) Google Maps. It’s a fun diversion that should offer a simple change of pace when you’re randomly browsing the Web at a loss for what to do next. There is no ultimate point to the game, but then that’s true of the majority of games. They exist purely to offer limited entertainment value. Google Cube offers just that, but it’s worth playing at least once.
The video embedded above shows a real-life version of Google Cube, and if I’m honest, it looks a lot more fun to play than the online version is. Perhaps Google should take it out on the road to generate publicity. Until then we’ll have to make do with the virtual Google Cube.
Go Bowling With Friends
Google Cube begins with level 1/8 – Go Bowling With Friends. Your mission here is to work your way around the streets of Manhattan until you arrive at the Brooklyn Bowl. As with all the levels, you control the traveler, or ball, by manipulating the cube. This is done with the cursor, with each movement sending your traveler in the corresponding direction.
The intention of this level is to demonstrate how Google Maps can get you “from Point A to Point B with step-by-step directions and GPS tracking.”
San Francisco On Two Wheels
Next up is 2/8 – San Francisco On Two Wheels. This, as the name of the level should have made clear, puts you on a bicycle in San Francisco. Your mission is to see the sights, hitting certain locations in any order you see fit. Obviously there is one way that’s quicker than the rest, and it is up to you to determine which route that is.
The intention of this level is to demonstrate the “12,000 miles of biking trails, for more than 150 cities in the US.” Green routes indicate those considered safe for cyclists.
Traffic In Paris
Next we have 3/8 – Traffic In Paris. You’re in a car in Paris, a city notorious for high volumes of traffic and bad driving. There is an obvious route to your destination but it’s one where traffic jams are guaranteed to occur. Thankfully there is an alternate route which is further in distance but could be quicker to traverse.
The intention of this level is to demonstrate the “live traffic information for many cities around the world.” The volume of traffic expected down each route is color-coded.
The London Underground
On to 4/8 – The London Underground. If you ever visit London then do yourself a favor and use the Underground whenever possible. The lines criss-cross the British capital, making it simple to get around. This level of Google Cube tests your skills in hopping between lines in order to emerge into the open air close to your final destination.
The intention of this level is to demonstrate how Google Maps guides you “wherever you want to go, however you want to get there,” which includes “public transit directions.”
And now 5/8 – Visiting Tokyo. Tokyo is a maze. Not that I have ever been there, unfortunately. But it’s an old city with small streets, and navigating these can be hellish for the first-time tourist. This level of Google Cube asks you to traverse a small section of Tokyo and check in to the various tourist hot-spots. This is the most annoying level in the whole game.
The intention of this level is to demonstrate the ability to check in to any location using Google Maps for Android. These can then be shared via Google+.
Dining In Las Vegas
We finish with 6/8 – Dining In Las Vegas. Another city I have never visited, but this is one not on my bucket list. Still, the restaurants look good, and this level requires you to visit all those marked on the map.
The intention of this level is to demonstrate the “reviews and ratings made by other Google users,” that are built into Google Maps. It’s up to you whether you trust those reviews or not.
That is where I will end this review, on level 6 of 8, because I don’t want to ruin the game (what little there is of it) for you all. Remember there are only six sides to a cube, so where will you head for level 7? Cube should take you less than 20 minutes to play, because that is how long it took me to complete, and I suck at games.
I played Cube, I beat Cube, I got told that 20:21 minutes isn’t a good time to finish all the levels. In the process I learned about Google Maps, and some aspects of the service I wasn’t aware of. I was also served a reminder of how lucky we are living in the times we do. I’m so glad I no longer need to struggle to open a paper map while it’s windy and raining.
If you play Google Cube all the way through, then let me know your total time in the comments section below. I’m sure you’ll all beat my time of 20:21…