When the first Google Doodle debuted in 1998, it was just an illustration. These days, though, they’re often animated and/or interactive—and some are even full-fledged games that you can still play. Here are 20 especially fun Doodle games of days past that celebrate everything from PAC-MAN to pangolins.
Release date: May 21, 2010 (the first playable Google Doodle)
Occasion: The 30th anniversary of PAC-MAN’s debut in Japan (on May 22, 1980)
Play this game just like you’d play PAC-MAN in the arcade: Use the arrow keys to navigate PAC-MAN, eating up all the dots and avoiding the ghosts as you go.
2. Halloween 2016 (“Magic Cat Academy”)
Release date: October 31, 2016
Momo, a black cat—inspired by Doodle designer Juliana Chen’s real-life pet—must fight her way through five levels of malevolent ghosts at a school for magic. Make them disappear by drawing the symbols above their heads (a pattern of arrows and lines). In part two of the game, released on Halloween 2020, Momo must banish ghosts underwater.
3. Bubble Tea
Release date: January 29, 2023
Help a Formosan mountain dog—an indigenous Taiwanese breed—fulfill boba orders at his shop by holding down the space bar (or clicking and holding) to pour each ingredient up to the dotted line.
Release date: June 10, 2018
Occasion: Garden Day in Germany, where handcrafted garden gnomes caught on in the 19th century
Press the space bar or click to fling each garden gnome as far as possible via the trebuchet. (Flowers spring up in their wake.)
Release date: December 1, 2022
Occasion: What would have been the 82nd birthday of the late Gerald “Jerry” Lawson, who pioneered development of the first home video game system with interchangeable game cartridges and an 8-way digital joystick
This Doodle comprises five separate games that all utilize basic gaming goals, like collecting all the coins (or some other comparable item) or reaching a flag to win—avoiding unsavory characters that try to thwart you along the way. There’s also a game not unlike Atari Breakout, in which you have to direct a bouncing ball to break through all the blocks. The Doodle even has an edit mode where you can build your own game.
Release date: July 4, 2019
Occasion: To celebrate baseball’s Independence Day legacy
Hit the space bar or click to swing at pitches thrown by anthropomorphic peanuts. (The batters are all classic Fourth of July foods, too.)
Release dates: (2021) July 23-30; August 8; August 24-31; September 5
Occasion: Summer Olympics in Tokyo
This is a simple yet expansive role-playing game that unfolds over a series of 18 Doodles. Your character is a cat named Lucky, who needs to procure seven sacred scrolls by besting seven sporting champions on Champion Island. Side quests abound.
Release date: December 4, 2017
Occasion: To celebrate Computer Science Education Week and the 50th anniversary of the introduction of kids’ programming languages
Build a code that directs the bunny to hop to each space with a carrot. There are blocks for moving forward one space, turning right and left, and even repeating a section of code.
9. Hip Hop
Release date: August 11, 2017
Occasion: The 44th anniversary of DJ Kool Herc’s “back-to-school jam” in The Bronx in 1973, now considered hip hop’s birthday
Create your own hip hop mixes by choosing different classic records from a crate to play on the turntables. Earn trophies for featuring certain tracks, learning how to pause and scratch records, and more.
10. Pony Express
Release date: April 14, 2015
Occasion: The 155th anniversary of the Pony Express, the horse-powered mail service of the Old West that launched on April 3, 1860
Use the up and down arrow keys to navigate your courier on horseback through the Old West, collecting mail and avoiding cacti, rivers, and other obstacles as you go.
11. Oskar Fischinger
Release date: June 22, 2017
Occasion: What would have been the 117th birthday of German American avant-garde animator and artist Oskar Fischinger
Make your own visual music by building patterns of dots on the screen, which an instrument will play as notes as it moves from left to right. You can change the tempo and the key, add instruments, and experiment with other features.
Release date: December 9, 2019
Occasion: To celebrate the classic Mexican card game Lotería
This bingo-like Doodle is a multiplayer game—you can play against random opponents or send a link to your friends—in which each player has 16 cards laid out in a grid. When a card is dealt from the deck, see if it matches any of yours. If it does, put a bean on your card. The winner is the first person whose beans match the pattern in the upper left corner. Don’t forget to tap the Lotería button on the right side of the screen as soon as you’ve filled the pattern—otherwise, someone else might beat you to it.
13. Wilbur Scoville
Release date: January 22, 2016
Help Wilbur Scoville extinguish the heat of each pepper by tossing ice cream at it, which you do by clicking on the color-coded bar at the bottom of the screen when the red circle is in the green zone. (After you beat all five peppers, a clipboard will pop up with five flame symbols on it. Click the one on the right to unlock “Extra Spicy Mode,” in which the red circle moves much faster.)
14. Doctor Who
Release date: November 23, 2013
Occasion: The 50th anniversary of Doctor Who’s premiere
Help the Doctor travel through time and space to collect letters that spell out Google. Use your arrow keys (or your mouse, which is easier) to move him, and watch out for obstacles.
15. Crossword Puzzle
Release date: December 21, 2013
Type in the answers to the clues exactly as you would with any other digital crossword. The three-letter answer to the first clue across appears multiple times throughout the puzzle.
16. Pangolin Love
Release date: February 11-14, 2017
Occasion: Valentine’s Day
Each of these four interactive Doodles highlights a different endangered pangolin species looking for love in their natural habitat. They all need your help completing various tasks for their beaus. For February 11’s giant pangolin in Ghana, it’s collecting ingredients to bake a cake. On February 12, the Indian pangolin must grab musical notes to write a song. February 13’s Chinese pangolin is amassing ribbons to learn a dance; and on Valentine’s Day, the Philippine pangolin is collecting flowers to build a bouquet.
17. Basketball 2012
Release date: August 8, 2012
Occasion: Summer Olympics in London
Hit the space bar or click to prepare your shot, and then repeat the motion to shoot. If you wait too long between the two actions, you’ll overshoot the basket—but if you don’t wait long enough, the ball won’t have enough power to make it there at all.
Release date: August 9, 2012
Occasion: Summer Olympics in London
Use the arrow keys to steer your canoeist through the slaloms and away from rocks and other river obstacles.
19. Soccer 2012
Release date: August 10, 2012
Occasion: Summer Olympics in London
Use your arrow keys or mouse to move the goalkeeper left and right to block the penalty kicks. Press the space bar or click to jump.
20. Savoy Ballroom
Release date: May 26, 2021
Occasion: To celebrate the 19th anniversary of the unveiling of a commemorative plaque at the site of the (long-demolished) Savoy Ballroom, Harlem’s famed 20th-century dance hall
While animated swing dancers perform to classic jazz songs, hit the right keyboard key—D, F, J, or K—when the musical note lands on it.