Marble Madness Meets Google Maps in WebGL GameBy: Drew Bowling - May 2, 2012
Google has let another experiment out of its secret lab and this one has an appetite for your free time – or, better, for your time while you’re at the office.
This fearsome new creation is a game simply called Cube. As if you couldn’t guess by the name, the game consists of a cube resplendently dressed up in Google Maps, each side displaying a 3D map of cities you’ll probably recognize like New York City, Tokyo, and London. The cube itself bobs and rotates around a strange white space that, really, looks about the way I’d imagine the Phantom Zone looks except this doesn’t exactly feel like a Kryptonian prison space.
The premise of the game is simple: You must guide the Google Maps blue dot – the same one that indicates your current location when you use Google Maps – to one or more destinations located on the map. To move the blue dot, you must use your mouse cursor to tilt the plane of the map so that the blue dot (or marble, since it’s rolling around in this case) will roll down the landscape. The blue dot/marble will follow the direction of your cursor and you can manipulate the speed of the marble depending on how severely you tilt the plane. Get to the destination(s) as fast as you can and you win the day all day.
There’s no sand traps or water hazards, but you can’t just go flying all gangbusters across the map, either, meaning you have to use bridges to cross rivers and follow all the rest of the rules in the world.
Different levels feature the various overlays you can apply to Google Maps, such as bike routes, indoor maps, public transit routes, or traffic conditions. If you’re playing the stage with the traffic overlay, for instance, you’re instructed to get to the goal as quickly as possible. However, you can’t take just any route because if you try to travel via the heavily congested streets (marked on Google Maps by a deep, forbidding red line), the blue marble will slow down significantly to mirror the wonderful emotion of being stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic.
The game’s not only limited to fun, though: interjected between each stage is a helpful tip about Google Maps for those still unfamiliar with the wondrous and winding ways of the service.
The game combines a number of different selling points about Google Maps into one concept: it shows off the impressive 3D renderings of iconic buildings, the informative overlays you can apply to maps, and – most importantly – it reminds you to have fun. There are 8 levels (yes, I know how many sides a cube has) and, just for kicks, the final level throws a Rubik’s cube/Inception mash-up at you. You don’t win anything for having a remarkably low time, but you do get to enjoyably pass off a few minutes of your day with a classic gaming concept.
Below is a video of a real-life model of the map cube being twisted and flipped around by two guys wearing white rubber gloves. Enjoy it.