For Halloween, Google Doodle scares up addictive multiplayer game

Invite friends or family members to play Great Ghoul Duel or join random strangers from around the world.

Steven Musil
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Steven Musil is the night news editor at CNET News. He's been hooked on tech since learning BASIC in the late '70s. When not cleaning up after his daughter and son, Steven can be found pedaling around the San Francisco Bay Area. Before joining CNET in 2000, Steven spent 10 years at various Bay Area newspapers.
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Google's Great Ghoul Duel lets you form teams with friends and family or play with random strangers around the world.


Google has another Halloween treat for fans of its Doodle games -- its first-ever multiplayer game.

Two years ago, Google captivated Doodle players with a game featuring an adorable black cat with magic powers that races the clock to save its school from a horde of invading spirits. This year's Great Ghoul Duel takes things up a notch by letting you form two teams of four ghosts to collect as many wandering spirit flames as possible and return them to your home base within two minutes.

The team that collects the most spirit flames wins, but beware: Teams can steal flames from each other as they try to deposit them at their home base. Ghosts that collect the most spirit flames will also unlock special powers, such as speed boosts and night vision.

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Players can invite seven friends or family members to play the game via a custom link, or play random strangers around the world.

Google Doodles have now been around for 20 years. The first Doodle appeared in 1998, when Google's co-founders spoofed the traditional "out of office" sign by incorporating the Burning Man symbol into the company's corporate logo. Since then, the addition of colorful -- and sometimes interactive -- graphics to Google's logo to highlight notable people, events, holidays and anniversaries has become a ritual. Doodles have celebrated, among many other things, Pac-Man's anniversary, Copernicus' birthday, Mother's Day and the World Cup, as well as reminding us of lesser-known real-world heroes.

In the case of this year's Halloween doodle, several systems that run on the Google Cloud Platform made Google's first multiplayer game possible. 

Before venturing in, though, a word of warning: If it's like Google's other Doodle games, it'll likely be highly addicting. Make sure you have plenty of candy handy to sustain your strength.

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Originally published Oct. 30 at 12:01 a.m. PT.
Updated Oct. 31 at 8:48 a.m. PT:  Added background on the history of Google Doodles.

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