Google Docs contains a dragon, YouTube’s video player contains a hidden game, and zerglings are waiting to devour your search results when you challenge them to a battle. Over the years, many video game-related Easter eggs have crept into Google – several of which are playable games.
These Easter eggs pay tribute to retro video game culture. Many Google employees are obviously video game fans who grew up playing the classics, everything from Tetris and Pac-Man to Starcraft and Star Fox.
Search for “Zerg Rush” on Google and your search results will be attacked by little O characters. They’ll come from the top of the page and start to destroy the elements on the page, each of which has a health bar. Protect your search results by clicking each enemy multiple times to defeat it.
This Easter egg references Blizzard’s Starcraft real-time strategy game. In the series, the Zerg are an alien race of enemies that attack in massive numbers. Each O character is similar to a zergling.
Google replaced its logo with a Pac-Man doodle on Pac-Man’s 30th birthday. This doodle was special because it was actually playable. Some people estimated that the Pac-Man game on Google’s homepage resulted in over $120 million in lost productivity as people played the game on Google’s homepage instead of working.
While the game isn’t available on Google’s homepage anymore, you can still play it online.
Also see: 7 Quick Games You Can Play On Google Search.
YouTube’s video player has a built-in Snake game. To activate the game, press and hold the left and up arrow keys while the video player is in focus. If you don’t see anything after pressing these keys, click the video player to focus it.
The Snake game is best played on a black background — pausing a video before it starts is one way to access a black background. You can actually play the game while a video is playing, although it may be difficult to see. Some people have created special videos with black backgrounds and retro music, designed for playing the game over.
Also see: The Top 10 Interactive YouTube Games.
Google used to offer a snake game in Gmail, which you could activate by enabling the “Old Snakey” lab. Unfortunately, this appears to have been removed.
Search for “Do a Barrel Roll” on Google and Google itself will do a barrel roll – a 360-degree spin.
“Do a Barrel Roll” is a popular meme that originated in Star Fox 64.
The Konami code (also known as the Contra code) is a cheat code used in a wide variety of retro games. It’s since found a place in popular culture.
Google Reader responds to the Konami code, showing a special ninja background when you enter it. To enter the Konami code, press these keys in the following order:
Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A
The Konami code also works on Facebook and several other websites.
Slay The Dragon
There’s a dragon in Google Docs– yes, seriously. And you must slay it, brave adventurer!
To slay the dragon, open a spreadsheet and press Shift-F12.
It’s a rather easy dragon to slay.
This one doesn’t qualify as an Easter egg because it’s an actual feature – Google Earth contains a flight simulator. To access it, click the Tools menu in Google Earth and select Enter Flight Simulator.
Select an aircraft and start position to start your virtual flight – you can even control the aircraft with a joystick. The flight simulator uses Google Earth’s satellite imagery.
We’ve previously covered the flight simulator in more detail.
Perhaps one of the greatest Google April Fools pranks of all time was 8-bit Google Maps. According to the prank, Google was implementing a version of Google Maps for the Nintendo Entertainment System. On April 1, 2012, Google actually implemented this as a special layer in Google Maps – the “Quest” layer.
Unfortunately, I can’t find a way to access the 8-bit Google Maps layer anymore; the video is all that remains. Please leave a comment if you know a way to access it!
The Lord of the Rings
Ask Google Maps for walking directions from The Shire to Mordor and Google will provide a warning. “One does not simply walk into Mordor”.
This one is clearly inspired by the Lord of the Rings books, but it’s thematically similar – and there were Lord of the Rings video games, after all.
ZX Spectrum & Tetris
Over the years, Google has also paid tribute to the ZX Spectrum and Tetris with special doodles on its home page. Unfortunately, unlike Pac-Man, these doodles weren’t playable.
Which is your favorite Google Easter egg? Leave a comment and let us know!