Skip to comments.Ghost-Wary, dot eating Pac-Man turns 25 today
Posted on 06/14/2005 8:27:09 PM PDT by Nascardude
For a video game, Pac-Man is getting downright old. The ghost-wary hero with an insatiable appetite for dots turns 25 this month.
From the early 1980s "Pac-Mania" to today's endless sequels and rip-offs, the original master of maze management remains a bright yellow circle on the cultural radar.
But there was more to Pac-Man's broad appeal than eating dots and dodging on-screen archrivals Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde.
"This was the first time a player took on a persona in the game. Instead of controlling inanimate objects like tanks, paddles and missile bases, players now controlled a `living' creature," says Leonard Herman, author of "Phoenix: The Rise and Fall of Videogames." "It was something that people could identify, like a hero."
It all began in Japan, when Toru Iwatani, a young designer at Namco, caught inspiration from a pizza that was missing a slice. Puck-Man, as it was originally called, was born. Because of obvious similarities to a certain four-letter profanity, "Puck" became "Pac" when it debuted in the U.S. in 1980.
Its success spawned a romantic interest (Ms. Pac-Man), a child (Junior Pac-Man), a cartoon show and hundreds of licensed products. The phenomenon even reached the pop music charts when "Pac-Man Fever" by Buckner & Garcia drove us all crazy in 1982.
Billy Williams, the first and only person known to play a perfect game of Pac-Man (he racked up a score of 3,333,360 after clearing all 256 levels in more than six hours in 1999, according to video game record keepers Twin Galaxies) says Pac's popularity was in its nonviolent simplicity.
"The fact that it's cute, it's almost like a hero running around the board from bad guys. It's not an appeal based on violence," the 39-year-old from Hollywood, Fla., said. "Whether it was an 80-year-old lady or a kid, everyone could adapt to the Pac-Man world."
Billions of quarters later, Pac-Man's influence continues.
As part of a final project for a class in New York University's Interactive Telecommunications graduate program last year, students with cell phones and Wi-Fi Internet connections mimicked the game, tracking their movements on a grid spanning several city blocks.
They called this analog re-enactment, where four people dressed as ghosts searched for Pac-Man on the streets around New York's Washington Square Park, Pac-Manhattan.
"We never had anyone clear the entire board," said Frank Lantz, a game designer who taught the course.
Namco, which can't offer an exact date for Pac-Man's birth, sold 293,822 of the arcade machines between 1980 and '87. It shows no signs of giving up on the franchise.
The company has several new games this year, including "Pac-Mania 3D," "Pac-Man World 3," Pac-Pix" and "Pac-Man Pinball." It even began making a special 25th anniversary edition of the old arcade machine.
"People say, `Who buys Pac-Man?' It's one of the few games where the answer is, `Everyone,'" said Scott Rubin, general manager of Namco America.
Herman said Pac-Man's place in video game history is forever secure, saying: "It was a milestone of video game history."
I'll tell you though, I remember as a little boy in the eighties how popular video arcades were and how there'd always be swarms of people around the Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man games. To me, it's still a game worth playing. There are hardly any real video arcades left anymore. Atleast here in Virginia. And what ones there are only have 3 kinds of games in them. You got your gun games, racing games, and those stupid machines where you can waste 10 dollars trying to win a prize worth 10 cents. I miss the old classic arcade games that I remember so well from my summer vacations as a youth. I miss the Pac-Mans, the Galaxias, the Asteroids, the Burgertime, the Techmo Bowls, etc.
Amazing - this game has aged well. A real classic.
Yep I remember playing pacman on our atari. Way too much time playing pacman on our atari.
Can't believe its been 20!
Not so, there were lots of games where players controlled a "persona". They just weren't as popular as PacMan.
Back in the late 70's, I was a member of the San Francisco Apple Core computer club. Other members were always demonstrating stuff they created for the Apple-II. I remember one time one of our youngest members (think he was 12) demonstrated a graphics game where you controlled a knife-wielding punk, who could cut, slash, and throw knives at victims where blood spurted and wounds would appear. Our eyes went wide at seeing this. Someone asked how long it took him to write the program; he said he started a a few days ago. He's probably rich now.
Centipede, galaga, asteroids, tron.
Put a ton of quarters in those machines.
Centipede, galaga, asteroids, tron."
Live it again my brother.....
Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator!
Roms? Usenet group...
Even the PS2 games are nothing more than 3d murder fests. (and booooring at that)
Wocka wocka wocka wocka wocka wocka
They sure made their money off of us, lol. But I had the patterns down, darn it!!!!
Jeez I'm old.
wocka wocka wocka ping
Ping list for the discussion of the politics and social (and sometimes nostalgic) aspects that directly effects Generation Reagan / Generation-X (Those born from 1965-1981) including all the spending previous generations (i.e. The Baby Boomers) are doing that Gen-X and Y will end up paying for.
Freep mail me to be added or dropped. See my home page for details and previous articles.
Here's a little pic fur ya
He's Got A Plan
Your evil twin has made its appearance on this thread. ;-)
That's exactly the sound effect I was thinking of when I read this thread. LOL ;-)
Not to be picky but the picture,
How can you only have a score of 460 on the 1st Apple??
And a High score of only 1240?
But yes, Pac-Man was an all-time classic. Best game until Gauntlet came out 5 years later
I was just surprised I could spell it as easily as I could!
Berserk was my game (humanoid trapped in a maze with robots). When I was in college and went to the arcade, all the kids would crowd around to watch me play. One shot, one kill . . . oh, those were the days.
I used to play that game, but am having one of many senior moments and can't recall it's name. Would you please tell me before it haunts me for days?
Yeah, but that Q*Bert sure had a filthy mouth.
I fell in love with Pac-Man and Donkey Kong my last couple years of college...many quarters down the drain, but it was fun and a great escape from academic pressures.
I am getting good at this one, years of practice.
Ms Packman was my favorite.
I was the MASTER at Kung Fu Master, my best score was over 400,000 points. 3rd Dragon.
Kung Fu Master was a very fast paced game and garnered alot of looks from others, especially in my expediency at eliminating the bosses on each floor.
I also loved Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man, Galaga (best score over 400,000), Joust, and Star-Wars (best score over 1,500,000)
There are many others, too numerous to mention. I was an 80's child.
Had a cabaret Centipede machine about 2 years ago in good condition. Bought it for $150.00. My wife played the hell out of it.
Also had a Super-Zaxxon machine a few years ago. Could never get the elevation right and hit targets, judge enemy shots, etc. A very difficult game. Sold the machine for $400.00 to a buyer halfway across the country. It was back in my Ebay dealing days... My focus was video games.
Yeah, it's X-Com. Check out the upcoming GBA game Rebel Star Tactical Comomand--by the same team, believe it or not.
If I had saved and invested all the quarters I plugged into arcade machines during the early 1980s, I'd be retired now.
A four letter profanity that rhymes with "puck?" My innocent mind can come up with no such word.
My old friend, X-COM. I wasted a LOT of time with that game. I fiddled with the save game files, doing hex dumps and seeing what had changed. I ended up writing a program to make all my soldiers into super soldiers. Just hire a bunch of flunkies, save and exit the game, run my program, and restart the game. I could move all around the board, hit with every shot, etc. My favorite part was getting the mind-control technology and then I'd scout out the aliens, mind control them, and have them play "Religion of Peace" on their fellow aliens. BOOM! Ha ha ha... Good times.
Bingo. Now, there was an advanced version, with the "planet" outline in green, and with the direction of gravity changing from screen to screen. Any ideas?
Incidentally, I'm thinking of making that my desktop background, so thanks.
Pinky is obviously gay. Boycott the game!
The article is off by a couple of years. I remember playing pacman when I was in high school and I graduated in '78.
Oh, man...I used to love that game! When Atari re-released the 2600, I was the first on my street to get it and, man, did I enjoy Kung-Fu Master. Kung-Fu Master and Keystone Capers were the two I really liked...
Was my game.
Wow! I loved Zaxxon.
In about '81 or '82, I had a Pac-Man wristwatch.
I used to play it in class all the time.
(the controls are a bit of a pain)
You can also DL old arcade gaems there.
You could also buy your very own Zaxxon on eBay:
This one was my favorite: