Skip to comments.New Pac Man for Xbox is swan song for founder
Posted on 06/05/2007 6:57:24 PM PDT by Pyro7480
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Pac Man will be reborn on Microsoft Corp.'s Xbox Live online service on Wednesday as a final tribute for designer Toru Iwatani, who is retiring from the $30 billion games industry he helped ignite.
The new version of the iconic arcade game is a faithful interpretation of the addictive 27-year-old original, where players wrenched joystick controllers to race a character -- resembling a yellow pizza missing a slice -- around a digital maze to chomp white pellets and chase multicolored "ghosts."
The new game, "Pac Man Championship Edition," is the second and final version Iwatani personally designed, and was created for the final round of the Xbox 360 Pac-Man World Championship in New York, when nine finalists played it for the first time.
Iwatani, 52, an employee of Japan's Namco Bandai Holdings, said in an interview he will retire from active duty at Namco and spend more time teaching the next generation of game designers at Tokyo Polytechnic University.
He said there were no immediate plans for another version of Pac Man, but that he could work with Namco in a supervisory position or work on a new version with his students.
The new game, which pulses to dance music and has mazes that change shapes, marks Iwatani's swan song from electronic interactive entertainment, an industry with annual revenue that now tops U.S. box office movie sales.
But Iwatani said the future of the games industry, where development budgets now rival those of some feature-length movies, lies not with professional creators, but outsiders.
The designer of "Tetris was not from the industry. He was a scientist," he said, referring to another legendary 1980s game, in which players organize falling blocks, designed by Russian scientist Alexey Pajitnov in 1985.
"For someone thinking outside of the industry, they can have a fresh new idea," Iwatani said.
Despite the last decade's advances in computer graphics technology and design, Iwatani created the new Pac Man as he did the original -- in two-dimensions. "I wanted to stay with the original simple rules of Pac Man," he said.
The new version also reshuffles older formats. In one mode, called "Dark mode,' most of the maze is hidden from view with players guided only by a flashlight lighting Pac Man's path.
"Pac Man Championship Edition" will be sold for about $10 as a download on the Xbox Live service, starting on Wednesday.
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Fond memories of arcades...
We bought our sons (ages 7 and 4) a couple of those plug-and-play arcade games. Each has several retro games including Pac Man, Ms. Pac Man, Galaga, Pole Position, etc. They really enjoy them and it takes us waaaaaay back. It’s also holding them off on getting a gaming system which, thankfully, hasn’t been asked for (yet).
Yeah, wish I had all those quarters now! :)
Ha! I like it!
Never cared much for the original Pac-man, though, I gotta say. Tetris, on the other hand...I used to play for hours. At the end of the day I’d be trying to get to sleep and still see shapes falling and falling and falling...
The plug-and-play systems vary a lot in terms of quality. Many simply use a famiclone chip, often refered to as "Nintendo on a chip" or NOAC. Those are basically equivalent to the Nintendo Entertainment System hardware, with code for whatever games they're doing. The original Flashback used a NOAC along with games that were programmed to kinda sorta look like the original Atari 2600 games.
Far more interesting is the Flashback 2. That uses a custom CMOS-based chip which was based on the original NMOS designs for the 2600 (the most amazing piece of gaming hardware ever!). If one wires in a cartridge port, it can even run the vast majority of games for the original 2600. Since the original NMOS designs used some tricks that are hard to mimic using modern CMOS technologies, the design doesn't perfectly match the original, but it's still neat to see such a classic design get a new life.
Actually, I think the 2600 is a beautiful illustration of the power of the microprocessor. Unlike most gaming systems, whose hardware is designed to display various objects on a frame of video, the Atari's hardware doesn't even have any concept of what a "frame" is. Such concepts are handled entirely in software. Although this makes programming the 2600 'interesting', it allows for a level of flexibility which is entirely unmatched by anything else of its era. I think it's neat that essentially the same design is being produced in the Flashback 2. Even though the design is 30 years old, there's probably more undiscovered territory there than on many other platforms.