Pac-Man, the quintessential retro arcade game. Originally created by Namco in the early 1980s and has now been updated for the web by Neave.
HOW TO PLAY
The idea is a simple one: Guide Pacman around the maze and eat all the little white dots whilst avoiding those nasty ghosts ... watch out for Blinky, Pinky, Inkey, and Clyde. If you eat a Power Pill, you can eat the ghosts!
Occasionally, a fruit appears which gives you a bonus score when eaten. Featuring High Scores!
Use your arrow keys to move the Pac-Man. Press "M" to Mute/Unmute sound, "P" to Pause/Unpause the game, and "Q" to quit at any time.
HISTORY OF PACMAN
1980-1981: The Birth of a Legend
Developer: Namco of Japan
Publisher: Namco of Japan
1980. The Cold War was starting to thaw. Long-haired musicians were everywhere. Materialism swept North America. Coke was huge (and I don't mean Pepsi's rival). Arcade games were starting to get off the ground. But small blips of dots and bleeping sounds weren't enough to kick-start what would become a multibillion dollar industry. Mario, Link, Sonic, Cloud, Lara Croft, and Duke Nukem were all years away. Vids needed a mascot, a face - someone who could stand for the entire quarter-sucking industry....
One evening a young Namco game designer named Tohru Iwatani went out for pizza with some friends. After the usual chatting and sipping of drinks, their large pizza arrived. Tohru removed the first slice and brought it to his watering mouth. He causally glanced at the shape of the pizza that was left. Cells in his brain fired. His mind raced. What if?
Believe it or not, it's true. Pac-Man is based on a pizza with a slice missing.
Namco of Japan originally called him Puck-Man but wisely decided to change his name before release - the American penchant for graffiti wouldn't have helped the company's advertising any. Before long, Pac-Man was as ubiquitous as the swastika in Nazi Germany. You couldn't enter a shopping mall without seeing Pac-Man games, T-shirts, bedspreads, and lunch boxes - or an arcade, either.
The attached picture come from the first Pac-Man title created (Namco's Puck-Man, not the one licensed by Midway) - naturally, the characters' names are different from the US version. Pac's mortal enemies were called Akabei, Pinky, Aosuke, and Guzuta (the American ones were Blinky, Pinky, Inky, and Clyde). The gameplay was so basic even a five-year-old could master it: Eat dots until you die. The power pellets allowed the hunted to become the hunter, letting kids of all sizes go on murderous rampages, temporarily vanquishing their foes.
Namco and Midway quickly realized they had a hit on their hands and began a string of sequels that even the Friday the 13th series couldn't compete with.
FACTS ABOUT PACMAN
We've compiled a list of facts you probably never knew about Pac-Man.
• Pac-Man is the best-selling coin-operated game in history. Forget Street Fighter 2 and Tetris. In the game's debut year alone, over 100,000 Pac-Man machines were made and sold around the world.
• Namco estimates that the original Pac-Man arcade title has been played more than ten billion times in its 20-year history. Namco's total Pac-Man revenues have reached $100 million... one quarter at a time.
• Pac-Man was inspired by a pizza with a slice missing. Namco designer Tohru Iwatani went out for the evening with some friends and then drove for dinner. The rest is history.
• 1982 saw the debut of ABC's animated cartoon, The Pac-Man Show. It ran for two years as Pac-Man tried to save his friends and Pac-Land from the evil Mezmaron.
• Jerry Buckner and Gary Garcia spoofed Ted Nugent's song Cat Scratch Fever and turned it into Pac-Man Fever. The song hit number nine.
• Dozens of hacked versions of Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man exist. These games give the Pac character a speed bonus with the push of a button or more challenging mazes with complex series of turns.
• It took eight people 15 months to complete the original Pac-Man arcade title. Four worked on the hardware, four worked on the software.
• Pac-Man and his fellow Pacs travel 20 percent faster through mazes that have been cleared of dots than when they're eating. If you've got a ghost on your tail, head for open ground.
• Pac-Man has been licensed to more than 250 companies for over 400 products. There are Pac-Man air fresheners, cereal boxes, flip phones, costumes, record books, and even a hot rod.
• The business world has co-opted Pac-Man's name as a technique to protect against a hostile takeover. The defending company would instead swallow the larger company in a move known as the Pac-Man defense.
• In July of 1999, Florida resident and die-hard Pac-Man fan Billy Mitchell achieved the first perfect score in Pac-Man (3,333,360) after playing for six hours straight. He beat all 256 screens eating every dot, fruit, and ghost (all four ghosts were eaten with each power pellet) - using only one Pac-Man!
It took almost twenty years, but on July 3, 1999 for the first time ever, a perfect score of 3,333,360 was achieved on Pac-Man by Billy Mitchell at the Funspot Family Fun Center, Weirs Beach, New Hampshire. To achieve this, Billy had to eat every single bonus prize and every possible blue ghost in all 256 levels of the game - a feat which took him over six hours to complete. Not only that but he didn't lose a single life. It was the first ever perfect game of Pac-Man.
On completing the game, Billy announced "I never have to play that darn game again". He had been playing for seventeen years. In a recent interview with videogames.com, Billy spoke about how he did it.
"I understand the behavior of the ghosts and am able to manipulate the ghosts into any corner of the board I choose. This allows me to clear the screen with no patterns. This was a more difficult method for the initial 18 screens. I chose to do it this way because I wanted to demonstrate the depths of my abilities. I wanted to raise the bar higher - to a level that no one else could match."
Imagine a world in which Billy Mitchell never encountered Pac-Man. Put to good use his sharp mind, excellent hand-eye coordination, incredibly long attention span and his prodigious talent for problem-solving probably would have led the world into a utopian technological society by now. The human genome would have been mapped by the mid eighties. World poverty would have been eliminated entirely. The air and the earth would be clean. We'd be living in an age of unprecedented peace. Serbs and Kosovars would be frolicking hand in hand cracking jokes about their ethnic differences. Billy Mitchell would have a girlfriend. Instead, Billy Mitchell played Pac-Man and grew a moustache.
Billy recently offered a $100,000 prize to anyone able to demonstrate that the split-screen level (level 256) is passable. Many have claimed to have achieved this, but no conclusive proof has ever been produced. In 1982, the then eight-year-old Jeffrey R. Yee received a congratulatory letter from President Reagan for his reported world record of 6,131,940 (a score that is only possible if the split-screen can be solved). The bitterness over this incident evidently continues to this day.
History and Facts by DOUG TRUEMAN
Billy Mitchell Facts gathered from SOUND OF EATING