This year Pac-Man celebrates its 40th anniversary as the most popular video game of all time.
Pac-Man video game came out in Japan in 1980 by Japanese game designer Toru Iwatani.
The original Japanese name was Puck-Man. But in American arcades, this name would be easily modified by changing “P” to “F”, so the name had to be changed to Pac-Man.
By 1981 in the American arcades there were 100,000 Pac-Man machines. In 1982, Pac-Man attracted 30 million Americans to machines located in arcades, spent $8 million a week playing.
Perhaps the secret to the success of Pac-Man over these 40 years is simplicity.
Using either keyboard arrows or a joystick, the goal is to move Pac-Man in the maze to chomps away at pills in his path and consumes bonus items in the shape of fruits. Consume lines of 240 dots and avoiding or attacking one of four hunting ghosts.
The four ghosts have different colors and names: Blinky (red), Inky (light blue), Pinky (pink), and Clyde (orange).
Despite being simple, the game is not easy. Only 22 years after its release did a player achieve the record for the fastest perfect game of Pac-Man. David Race from Dayton, Ohio, played January 4, 2012, and scoring 3,333,360 points on the 255 levels in three hours, 33 minutes and 1.4 seconds.
Toru Iwatani worked on Pac-Man until 2007, and he now is a teacher of game design at a Tokyo University.
He says he doesn’t like modern games for smartphones very much. In a recent interview, he spoke about what he thinks of the legacy left by Pac-Man.
“When ‘Pac-Man’ was first released, video games were still something new and unusual for everyone but game fanatics. For many people, I think it ended up being their very first experience with a video game.”
“And now today, 40 years later, it’s still enjoyed by not only women but men and women, young and old alike, all around the world. If we were to compare it to music, it might be something like a popular song that everyone knows and has heard before.”
In these 40 years, several spin-offs of the game have emerged. The first was Ms. Pac-Man in 81. Created by Midway, the company authorized to sell the original Pac-Man in the U.S. Ms. Pac-Man has four different mazes with varying numbers of dots, maze walls, dots, and pellets come in a variety of colors. The orange ghost is named “Sue,” not “Clyde.”
Jr. Pac-Man is also released, where the character appears showing children’s motifs (cap with a propeller).
Namco’s own follow-up to the original was Super Pac-Man, released in 1982. Midway produced many other Pac-Man sequels during the early 1980s, including Pac-Man Plus (1982). Jr. Pac-Man (1983), Baby Pac-Man (1983), and Professor Pac-Man (1984). Other games include the isometric Pac-Mania (1987), the side-scrollers Pac-Land (1984). Hello! Pac-Man (1994), and Pac-In-Time (1995), the 3D platformer Pac-Man World (1999), and the puzzle games Pac-Attack (1991) and Pac-Pix (2005).
Iwatani designed Pac-Land and Pac-Mania, both of which remain his favorite games in the series. Pac-Man Championship Edition, published for the Xbox 360 in 2007. Was Iwatani’s final game before leaving the company. Its neon visuals and fast-paced gameplay were met with acclaim, leading to the creation of Pac-Man Championship Edition DX (2010) and Pac-Man Championship Edition 2 (2016).
This year in celebration of Pac-Man’s 40th anniversary, Namco launched the PAC-MAN GEO. This new version allows you to play PAC-MAN using maps of actual locations from around the globe! New York, Paris, Tokyo… Make a PAC-MAN maze anywhere by choosing from a variety of real-world streets. Go for the high score in unique mazes on real-world streets, and sightsee from the comfort of home by collecting world landmarks.