Google's Creative Lab internal division certainly has a diverse body of work. Between all the experimental apps and weird web tools released under the name, you can find entries that range from novel to straight-laced and back again. The latest addition to the catalog falls into the former category. Verne: The Himalayas is a virtual tour of the world's highest mountain range, utilizing both Google's 3D satellite mapping technology and a cartoon abominable snowman.
The app is named after the yeti, Verne, who's scaled up to 500 virtual "feet." He runs around the giant mountain range, performing basic tasks like ringing a Tibetan gong, chasing the local wildlife, and flying across the map with the aid of a balloon. The app is decidedly geared towards kids (a lot of the geographical, cultural, and zoological info is presented in a Carmen Sandiego fashion), but that doesn't mean there's no enjoyment to be had for the young at heart as well. The 3D characters are overlaid onto Google Maps data with the help of the Unity game engine.
Verne: The Himalayas is free on Android 4.4 or higher. At the moment there's no web or iOS version, and since this seems like something of a limited, for-fun project, it might stay that way.
- Google Maps blog