Google Maps, Now On The NES

Many years ago, Google created one of its famous April Fools jokes suggesting it would make an 8-bit version of Google Maps for the original Nintendo Entertainment System. [ciciplusplus] decided it needed to become a reality, however, and set to work. (Video, embedded below.)

It’s a suitably blocky, low-resolution implementation, but it nevertheless is a mapping app running on an NES. Zooming in and out is via the A and B buttons, while the D-pad is used to scroll. Country and city labels are rendered on the map in the relevant areas in a charming old-school font.

The project uses a Raspberry Pi 3A+ and a Cypress Semiconductor FX2LP microcontroller, which fits inside a NES cartridge. It works the same way as the earlier NES Doom project which uses the Raspberry Pi to feed data to the NES’s Picture Processing Unit. It’s achieved with a simple bit of code burned on a ROM inside the cartridge, which boots up the NES and primes it to receive data from the Raspberry Pi via the FX2LP.

In current form, it’s not capable of doing much more than allowing the user to scroll around and zoom in on parts of the map. We’d love to see a fully-fledged version that could deliver driving directions or similar, however. If you end up achieving such a feat, be sure to let us know.

8 thoughts on “Google Maps, Now On The NES

  1. Wow. Really opened my eyes to the possibilities. Didn’t know people had interfaced rPi to NES via cartridge pins. Amazing. Wondering if original NES roms could be refactored dynamically to expand original maps / levels procedurally…

  2. ” We’d love to see a fully-fledged version that could deliver driving directions or similar,” – not really likely, since it requires that you pay google in order to use directions on your 3rd party map app. Sure, you can do the navigation yourself, but at that point it makes sense to drop gmaps and use OSM instead, or perhaps even Bing.
    That would be a cool thing for MS to do: make the NES version of Bing and say “we don’t kill old projects”.

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