Starting in 1998, Google began occasionally replacing the logo that would appear on their homepage with a stylized “Doodle” designed to celebrate a specific person or event. These “Google Doodles,” as they came to be known, were a highlight of the site’s user experience even in the early days. However, they didn’t become engrained in pop culture until the 2010 release of the wildly popular Pac-Man 30th Anniversary Doodle, the first Google Doodle that was also a playable video game.
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Since then, Google has released many playable doodles, all of which can be found in the Google Doodles Archive here. For this list, we’ve selected a few of the best Doodle games from the last decade and included links so you can try them out yourself.
The Great Ghoul Duel (2018)
The Great Ghoul Duel, Google’s first online multiplayer Doodle, was introduced for Halloween 2018. Players split up into two teams of four and try to collect as many “spirit flames” as possible before time runs out. Collecting more flames will allow you to get power-ups such as speed boosts and magnets. The game also includes several different maps for increased replayability.
Pangolin Love (2017)
A four-part Doodle created for Valentine’s Day 2017, Pangolin Love is a side-scrolling adventure where players control a pangolin traveling to visit his “scaly sweetheart.” Along the way, he collects various different objects to create gifts inspired by four different species of pangolin. The Doodle was created in collaboration with the World Wildlife Fund to draw attention to the illegal trade of pangolins.
Magic Cat Academy (2016)
Google’s Halloween 2016 Doodle puts players in the role of Momo, a freshman student at the Magic Cat Academy. When the school is attacked by ghosts, Momo has to defend it by “drawing” spells symbolized by the player drawing different shapes using their cursor. The game includes five levels, each of which ends with a boss battle.
Ludwig Van Beethoven’s 245th Year (2015)
In 2015, the Google Doodle team released a puzzle-based game for the 245th anniversary of Beethoven’s baptism. The story follows Beethoven as he encounters various obstacles on his way to the symphony hall, forcing him to reassemble the sheet music for his greatest compositions.
Halloween Global Candy Cup (2015)
Google’s first interactive Halloween Doodle tasked players around the globe with collecting candy for one of four teams: Red, Yellow, Green, or Blue, each of which was personified by a similarly-colored witch. The team with the most candy at Halloween 2015’s end was deemed the winner of the Global Candy Cup. Even though the contest is over, the game can still be played online, and, while the controls are fairly simple, getting a perfect score of 500 points isn’t as easy as it might seem.
155th Anniversary Of The Pony Express (2015)
For the 155th anniversary of the Pony Express, Google created a Doodle to celebrate the horse-mounted mail carriers who made it possible. Players take control of one of these riders as they collect letters on a side-scrolling map filled with obstacles and traps. The game proved popular; while only 100 letters can be collected in a single playthrough, more than 1 billion letters have been collected worldwide to date.
Doctor Who’s 50th Anniversary (2013)
For the 50th anniversary of the popular television series Doctor Who, Google debuted a point-and-click adventure game where the objective is to retrieve all six of the letters in “Google” from the Daleks who stole them while playing one of eleven doctors. The game has five unique levels and includes plenty of easter eggs. Plus, since the entire thing is time-based, players can go back and try to get through each level faster than before.
Zamboni Doodle (2013)
A game that centers around an old man driving an ice resurfacer may sound boring, but Google proved otherwise with a Zamboni-themed Doodle released in 2013. Dubbed “the icy adventure that puts you in the hot seat,” the Zamboni Doodle tasks players with clearing the ice using the arrow keys before their fuel runs out. Like many other Doodle games, it also includes several unique power-ups and obstacles.
2012 Summer Olympics (2012)
Google released four separate interactive Doodles for the 2012 Summer Olympics, each of which involves a different sport. The Basketball Doodle challenges players to make as many baskets as possible in 24 seconds, while the Soccer Doodle challenges them to block as many shots are possible before getting three “strikes.” The Hurdles Doodle is about clearing 10 hurdles as fast as possible, while the Slalom Canoe Doodle is about clearing a course of obstacles as fast as possible while riding in a canoe.
Pac-Man 30th Anniversary (2010)
The Google Doodle that started it all, an interactive version of Pac-Man for the game’s 30th anniversary, was introduced in 2010. While it was originally going to be a one-off easter egg, the game’s positive feedback encouraged the Google team to make more interactive logos. The Doodle was estimated to have been played by more than one billion people in just its first three days.
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