Google Chrome’s ‘Wizard Of Oz’ Adventure Is One Awesome Ad

Because it doesn't feel like an ad--it's a really fun, interactive adventure that fully exploits all the things modern web browsers can do.

Yesterday, Google unveiled a “Chrome experiment,” a promotion for the new Wizard of Oz prequel. It’s one of the coolest things I’ve seen on the web in weeks, a reminder that for all our harping about the wonders of mobile apps, the web is where a lot of the quieter but equally impressive innovation is taking place. This is a gorgeous, interactive game that takes you around the dusty carnival fields of Kansas, letting you pilot a hot air balloon through a tornado, create a short video with your webcam, and more.

Of course, it all ends up with a trip to Oz, where you see a trailer for the upcoming movie Oz: The Great And Powerful, which Wikipedia tells me stars Johnny Depp as the Wizard and also “Zach Braff as the voice of Finley the Flying Monkey/Frank, Oscar’s circus assistant,” so, you know, this movie may or may not be awful. But! The site/ad is really amazing–it really captures the small-town wonder of a slightly mystical circus, it’s smooth and easy to navigate but also very technically impressive. Says Google:

Chrome Experiments like “Find Your Way to Oz” would have been impossible a few years ago. Since that time, the web has evolved and allowed developers and designers to create immersive beautiful experiences. For “Find Your Way to Oz” the 3D environment was built entirely with new technologies such as WebGL and CSS3. It’s enhanced by rich audio effects thanks to the Web Audio API. The photo booth and zoetrope were built using the getUserMedia feature of WebRTC, which grants webpages access to your computer’s camera and microphone (with your permission).

You’ll need a reasonably powerful computer (and Google Chrome–it didn’t work in Firefox for us) to handle it, but if you’re an Oz fan, it’s worth checking out. Try it here, and read more about it on Google’s Chrome Blog.