Friday, May 21, 2010
When Pac-Man was released, the most popular arcade video games were space shooters, in particular Space Invaders and Asteroids. The most visible minority were sports games that were mostly derivative of Pong. Pac-Man succeeded by creating a new genre and appealing to both genders. Pac-Man is often credited with being a landmark in video game history, and is among the most famous arcade games of all time.The character also appears in more than 30 officially licensed game spin-offs, as well as in numerous unauthorized clones and bootlegs. According to the Davie-Brown Index, Pac-Man has the highest brand awareness of any video game character among American consumers, recognized by 94 percent of them. Pac-Man is one of the longest running video game franchises from the golden age of video arcade games, and one of only three video games that are on display at the Smithsonian in Washington D.C., (along with Pong and Dragon's Lair). For the 30th anniversary of its release, Google changed its homepage logo to a fully playable version of the gamebeing the first fully interactive google logo.
North American Pac-Man title screen, showing the official monster names.
The player controls Pac-Man through a maze, eating pac-dots. When all dots are eaten, Pac-Man is taken to the next stage. Four monsters (Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde) roam the maze, trying to catch Pac-Man. If a monster touches Pac-Man, a life is lost. When all lives have been lost, the game ends. Pac-Man is awarded a single bonus life at 10,000 points by default—DIP switches inside the machine can change the required points or disable the bonus life altogether.
Near the corners of the maze are four larger, flashing dots known as power pellets that provide Pac-Man with the temporary ability to eat the monsters. The monsters turn deep blue, reverse direction, and usually move more slowly. When a monster is eaten, its eyes remain and return to the monster box where it is regenerated in its normal color. Blue monsters flash white before they become dangerous again and the amount of time the monsters remain vulnerable varies from one board to the next, but the time period generally becomes shorter as the game progresses. In later stages, the monsters do not change colors at all, but still reverse direction when a power pellet is eaten.
In addition to Pac-dots and power pellets, bonus items, usually referred to as fruits (though not all items are fruit) appear near the center of the maze. These items score extra bonus points when eaten. The items change and bonus values increase throughout the game. Also, a series of intermissions play after certain levels toward the beginning of the game, showing a humorous set of interactions (the first being after level 2) between Pac-Man and Blinky (the red monster).
Pac-Man's arcade cabinet refers to the enemies as "monsters". When the Atari 2600 home version of the game was released with pale, flickering enemies, the manual dubbed them "ghosts". The TV series refers to them as "ghost monsters".
The monsters are bound by the maze in the same way as Pac-Man, but generally move slightly faster than the player, although they slow down when turning corners and slow down significantly while passing through the wraparound tunnels on the sides of the maze (Pac-Man passes through these tunnels unhindered). Pac-Man slows down slightly while eating dots, potentially allowing a chasing monster to catch him.
Blinky, the red monster, also speeds up after a certain number of dots are eaten (this number gets lower in higher levels).
The monsters are introduced during attract mode by the following names and nicknames:
Monster Color Original Pac Man American Pac-Man
Character (Personality) Translation Nickname Translation Alternate
nickname Character (Personality) Nickname
Red Oikake (追いかけ) chaser Akabei (赤ベイ) red guy Urchin Macky Shadow Blinky
Pink Machibuse (待ち伏せ) ambusher Pinky (ピンキー) pink guy Romp Micky Speedy Pinky
Cyan Kimagure (気まぐれ) fickle Aosuke (青助) blue guy Stylist Mucky Bashful Inky
Orange Otoboke (お惚け) stupid Guzuta (愚図た) slow guy Crybaby Mocky Pokey Clyde
A monster always maintains its current direction until it reaches an intersection, at which point it can turn left or right. Periodically, the monsters will reverse direction and head for the corners of the maze (commonly referred to as "scatter mode"), before reverting to their normal behavior. In an interview, Iwatani stated that he had designed each monster with its own distinct personality in order to keep the game from becoming impossibly difficult or boring to play. The behaviors of each monster have been exactly determined by reverse-engineering the game.
Despite the seemingly random nature of some of the monsters, their movements are strictly deterministic, enabling experienced players to devise precise sequences of movements for each level (termed "patterns") that allow them to complete the levels without ever being caught. A later revision of the game code altered the monsters' behavior, but new patterns were soon developed for that behavior as well. Players have also learned how to exploit other flaws in the monsters' behavior, including finding places where they can hide indefinitely without moving, and a code bug occasionally allows Pac-Man to pass through a non-blue monster unharmed. Several patterns have been developed to exploit this bug. The bug arises from the fact that the game logic performs collision detection based on monster / Pac-Man occupancy of grid squares, where the grid squares are large relative to the size of the characters. A character occupies (for collision detection purposes) only one grid square ("tile") at a time, despite its graphic depiction overflowing to another tile. If a monster and Pac-Man switch tiles with each other simultaneously (which is not a rare phenomenon, because the tiles granularity is large), a collision isn't detected.
There are three "intermissions", animations which play between boards. The first plays after board 2; the second plays after board 5; the third plays after boards 9, 13, and 17, and repeats for later boards.
In the first intermission, the red monster chases Pac-Man off the screen, then reappears as a blue monster being chased the other direction by a giant Pac-Man.
In the second intermission, the red monster chases Pac-Man across the screen until his pelt snags on a tack and rips, exposing his foot.
In the third intermission, the red monster chases Pac-Man across the screen, then crosses the screen in the opposite direction, naked and pink, dragging his pelt behind him.
The 256th split-screen level cannot be completed due to a software bug.
Pac-Man technically has no ending—as long as the player keeps at least one life, he or she should be able to continue playing indefinitely. However, because of a bug in the routine that draws the fruit, the right side of the 256th level becomes a scrambled mixture of text and symbols, rendering the level impossible to pass by legitimate means. Normally, no more than seven fruits are displayed at any one time, but when the internal level counter (stored in a single byte) reaches 255, the subroutine erroneously causes this value to "roll over" to zero before drawing the fruit. This causes the routine to attempt to draw 256 fruits, which corrupts the bottom of the screen and the whole right half of the maze with seemingly random symbols.
Through tinkering, the details of the corruption can be revealed. Some ROMs of the game are equipped with a "rack test" feature that can be accessed through the game's DIP switches. This feature automatically clears a level of all dots as soon as it begins, making it easier to reach the 256th level very quickly, as well as allowing players to see what would happen if the 256th level is cleared (the game loops back to the first level, causing fruits and intermissions to display as before, but with the monsters retaining their higher speed and invulnerability to power pellets from the later stages). When the rack test is performed in an emulator, a person can more easily analyze the corruption in this level.
Pac-Man and the monsters can move freely throughout the right half of the screen, barring some fractured pieces of the maze. Despite claims that someone with enough knowledge of the maze pattern could play through the level, it is technically impossible to complete since the graphical corruption eliminates most of the dots on the right half of the maze. A few edible dots are scattered in the corrupted area, and these dots reset when the player loses a life (unlike in the uncorrupted areas), but these are insufficient to complete the level. As a result, the level has been given a number of names, including "the Final Level", "the Blind-Side", and the ending. It is known more generally as a kill screen.
A perfect Pac-Man game occurs when the player achieves the maximum possible score on the first 255 levels (by eating every possible dot, energizer, fruit, and monster) without losing a single life then scoring as many points as possible in the last level. As verified by the Twin Galaxies International Scoreboard on July 3, 1999, the first person to achieve the maximum possible score (3,333,360 points) was Billy Mitchell of Hollywood, Florida, who performed the feat in about six hours.
In September 2009, David Race of Beavercreek, Ohio, became the sixth person to achieve a perfect score. His time of 3 hours, 41 minutes, and 22 seconds set a new record for the fastest time that a perfect score had been reached.
In December 1982, an 8-year-old boy, Jeffrey R. Yee, supposedly received a letter from U.S. President Ronald Reagan congratulating him on a worldwide record of 6,131,940 points, a score only possible if the player has passed the Split-Screen Level. Whether or not this event happened as described has remained in heated debate among video-game circles since its supposed occurrence. In September 1983, Walter Day, chief scorekeeper at Twin Galaxies, took the US National Video Game Team on a tour of the East Coast to visit video game players who claimed they could get through the Split-Screen. No video game player could demonstrate this ability. In 1999, Billy Mitchell offered $100,000 to anyone who could provably pass through the Split-Screen Level before January 1, 2000; the prize went unclaimed.
The game was developed primarily by a young Namco employee Tōru Iwatani, over a year, beginning in April 1979, employing a nine-man team. The original title was pronounced pakku-man (パックマン?) and was inspired by the Japanese onomatopoeic phrase paku-paku taberu (パクパク食べる?), where paku-paku describes (the sound of) the mouth movement when widely opened and then closed in succession. Although it is often cited that the character's shape was inspired by a pizza missing a slice, he admitted in a 1986 interview that it was a half-truth and the character design also came from simplifying and rounding out the Japanese character for mouth, kuchi (口) as well as the basic concept of eating.Iwatani's efforts to appeal to a wider audience—beyond the typical demographics of young boys and teenagers—eventually led him to add elements of a maze. The result was a game he named Puck Man.
When first launched in Japan by Namco in 1980, the game received a lukewarm response, as Space Invaders and other similar games were more popular at the time.
Later that year, the game was picked up for manufacture in the United States by Bally division Midway, under the altered title Pac-Man (see Localization, below). American audiences welcomed a breakaway from conventions set by Space Invaders, which resulted in unprecedented popularity and revenue that rivaled its successful predecessor, as even Iwatani was impressed with U.S. sales. The game soon became a worldwide phenomenon within the video game industry, resulting in numerous sequels and merchandising tie-ins. Pac-Man's success bred imitation, and an entire genre of maze-chase video games soon emerged.
The unique game design inspired game publishers to be innovative rather than conservative, and encouraged them to speculate on game designs that broke from existing genres. Pac-Man introduced an element of humor into video games that designers sought to imitate, and appealed to a wider demographic than the teenage boys who flocked to the action-oriented games.
Pac-Man's success in North America took competitors and distributors completely by surprise in 1980. Marketing executives who saw Pac-Man at a trade show prior to release completely overlooked the game (along with the now classic Defender), while they looked to a racing car game called Rally-X as the game to outdo that year. The appeal of Pac-Man was such that the game caught on immediately with the public; it quickly became far more popular than anything seen in the game industry up to that point. Pac-Man outstripped Asteroids as the best-selling arcade game of the time, and would go on to sell over 350,000 units.
Pac-Man went on to become an icon of video game culture during the 1980s, and a wide variety of Pac-Man merchandise was marketed with the character's image, from t-shirts and toys to hand-held video game imitations and even specially shaped pasta. The Killer List of Videogames lists Pac-Man as the #1 video game on its "Top 10 Most Popular Video games" list. Pac-Man, and other video games of the same general type, are often cited as an identifying cultural experience of Generation X, particularly its older members, sometimes called Baby Busters.
The North American Pac-Man cabinet design differs significantly from the Japanese Puck Man design.
For the North American market, the name was changed from Puck Man to Pac-Man, as it was thought that vandals would be likely to change the P in "puck" to an F, forming a common expletive. Puck Man machines can be found throughout Europe.
When Midway released Pac-Man in the United States, the company also redesigned the cabinet's artwork, as the Namco-style artwork was more costly to mass-produce. Puck Man was painted overall white featuring multicolored artwork on both sides with cheerful Pac-Man characters in different poses while Pac-Man was painted yellow, with simple artwork on both sides front and back.
Carlos Borrego, winner of the Pac-Man World Championship, alongside Namco's mascot
On June 5, 2007, the first Pac-Man World Championship was held in New York City, which brought together ten competitors from eight countries to play the new Pac-Man Championship Edition just prior to its release on Xbox Live Arcade. The top two scorers, Robert Glashuettner of Austria and Carlos Daniel Borrego of Mexico, competed for the championship in a single five-minute round. Borrego was named Pac-Man World Champion and won an Xbox 360 console, specially decorated with Pac-Man artwork and signed by Tōru Iwatani.
Pac-Man is one of the few games to have been consistently published for over two decades. In the 1980s, it was released for the Apple II series, Atari 2600, Atari 5200, the Atari 8-bit computers, IBM Personal Computer, Intellivision, Commodore VIC-20, Commodore 64, Nintendo Entertainment System (1987 and 1990 by Tengen, and 1993 by Namco) and TI 99/4a. For handheld game consoles systems, it was released on the Game Boy (1991), Sega Game Gear (1991), and the Neo Geo Pocket Color (1999). Special editions and compilations include Pac-Man: Special Color Edition for the Game Boy Color (1999), and Pac-Man Collection for the Game Boy Advance (2001). Pac-Man was also included as an unlockable game in Pac 'n Roll for the Nintendo DS.
Pac-Man has been most widely distributed in Namco's long-running Namco Museum series, first released for the PlayStation in 1996. Namco Museum is also available for the Game Boy Advance, PSP, and Nintendo DS. An Xbox 360 port of Pac-man was released via Xbox Live Arcade on August 9, 2006. Pac-Man is also available in its original form as part of the GameTap service.
On September 12, 2006, a port was released for play on the iPod music player. A version for the iPhone and iPod touch was released on July 9, 2008.
There have been efforts to hack the preexisting Ms. Pac-Man cartridge (as well as other variants in the Pac-Man series) to create the original Pac-Man for the Atari 7800.
Namco has repeatedly rereleased this game to arcades. In 2001, Namco released a 20-Year Reunion cabinet featuring Ms. Pac-Man and Galaga that permits the unlocking of Pac-Man for play. In 2005, Namco released a board openly featuring all three of the games on the 20-Year Reunion board in honor of Pac-Man's 25th Anniversary. The NES version later became a Classic NES Series title for the Game Boy Advance, and was also released for download via the Wii's Virtual Console service in May 2007.
Namco's wireless division, Namco Networks America Inc., released a line of Pac-Man games for cell phones in 2002, starting with the original arcade version and following up with Pac-Man game extensions like Pac-Man Bowling and Pac-Man Pinball. This division also launched a networked game, Ms. Pac-Man For Prizes, in 2004. Pac-Man mobile games are available on both BREW and Java platforms across major cellular carriers, as well as on Palm PDAs and Windows Mobile-based cell phones and PDAs. There is a port of Pac-Man for Android which can be controlled not only through an Android phone's trackball but through touch gestures or its on-board accelerometer.
Atari 2600 port
The Atari 2600 Pac-Man only somewhat resembled the original, and its flickering ghosts were widely criticized.
The Atari 2600 version of Pac-Man was developed by programmer Todd Frye and published in 1982 by Atari. It was the first port of the arcade game, Atari being the licensee for the video game console rights. Although it sold 7 million units to a user base of 10 million, this port's quality was widely criticized. Having manufactured 12 million cartridges with the expectation that the game would increase sales of its console, Atari incurred large financial losses from remaining unsold inventory. This was one of the catalysts that led to the North American video game crash of 1983, second only to the home video game version of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial in terms of unsold inventory.
Pac-Man spawned numerous sequels, the most significant of which is Ms. Pac-Man, released in the United States in 1981. Originally called Crazy Otto, this unauthorized hack of Pac-Man was created by General Computer Corporation and sold to Midway without Namco's permission. The game features several changes from the original Pac-Man, including faster gameplay, more mazes, new intermissions, and moving bonus items. Some consider Ms. Pac-Man to be superior to the original, and even the best in the entire series.Namco sued Midway for exceeding their license. Eventually, Bally Midway struck a deal with Namco to officially license Ms. Pac-Man as a sequel.
Bally Midway spin-offs
Following Ms. Pac-Man, Bally Midway released several unauthorized spin-offs, such as Pac-Man Plus, Jr. Pac-Man, Baby Pac-Man and Professor Pac-Man, resulting in Namco severing business relations with Midway. Some of these other titles were generally considered inferior and unimportant, serving to oversaturate the market with Pac-Man games.
Pac-Man Vs. is a version of the game which allows competitive play among multiple participants; it cannot be played alone. One player takes the role of Pac-Man and is pursued by the other players' monsters. When one of the monsters catches Pac-Man, the level starts anew and the two players exchange roles - the player who was playing Pac-Man becomes a monster and the player who caught him now becomes Pac-Man. In order to make the game fair, the players acting as monsters are presented with only a limited view of the maze (rendered in a 3D view, quite unlike the original) and the Pac-Man's player sees the full classical top-down view. The game continues with players swapping roles until one of them wins the match by reaching a predetermined number of points. The basic gameplay is basically similar to the original - the monsters can't eat the dots and the tables are turned on them when Pac-Man eats a power-pill. Pac-Man Vs. has been released for the Nintendo GameCube (this required a Game Boy Advance and special cable), Nintendo DS (wirelessly between 2 - 4 DS consoles) and has seen Japanese release on mobile phones (using bluetooth connectivity).
Pac-Man Championship Edition
Pac-Man Championship Edition (2007)
Twenty-six years after the original Pac-Man, Microsoft worked with Tōru Iwatani and Namco Bandai to produce a remake of the game, Pac-Man Championship Edition. It was released for the Xbox Live Arcade on June 6, 2007, and later for the iPhone OS.
Many unauthorized versions of Pac-Man, such as Funny-Man, were created to profit from Pac-Man's fame. Also one of the early first person video games was a 3D-version of Pac-Man called 3-Demon. On Friday, May 21, 2010, Google, in celebration of the 30th Anniversary of Pac-Man, has created a fully playable doodle, featuring simultaneous two player functionality and a maze styled after the Google logo. Other than that, the game play is nearly identical to that of the actual arcade version.
Google created a special, playable "doodle" in celebration of Pac-Man's 30th Anniversary
In 1982, Milton Bradley released a board game based on Pac-Man and another based on Ms. Pac-Man. Several other pocket games and a card game were also produced.
A group of students from the computer science department of Simon Fraser University had developed a "life-sized" Pac-Man system, using laptops and mobile phone tracking to track the location of the dots, monsters, and Pac-Man. It has become a regular activity of Computer Science Frosh Week, and is usually played in Downtown Vancouver.
A real-life version of Pac-Man has also been played around the Washington square park area of New York, in a game-christened PacManhattan.
Pac-Man was implemented using Roombas by three University of Colorado students.
An animated TV series was produced by Hanna–Barbera and aired on ABC from 1982 to 1984.
The Pac-man board game is a turn based action game. There are 4 Pac-mans and 2 monsters included in the game. Their colors are yellow, green, blue, and red.
In 2004, Crystal Sky Pictures announced they were producing a theatrical film adaption titled Pac-Man: The Movie. It will combine live-action and special effects. The film was included in a $200 million deal with Grosvenor Park. As of 2009, nothing more has been said about the film.
In the early 1980s in the UK, JPM released a fruit machine called "Fruit Snappa". Numbers on the reels move "Pac-Man" around a maze, eating prizes. It was released in 1982 and the Jackpot was a £2 Token Jackpot, and when the Prizes were raised the following year, the Jackpot became £3 and the machine was re-released under the name "Fruit Chaser". The Machine was identical in every other way to its predecessor.
Use in music
In 1981, Buckner & Garcia released the song "Pac-Man Fever" which went to #9 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. A full album featuring other video game songs was released in 1982.
Rapper Lil Flip sampled sounds from the game Pac-man and Ms. Pac-man to make his top-20 single "Game Over". NamCo America filed a lawsuit against Sony BMG Music Entertainment for unauthorized use of these samples. The suit was settled out of court, and the two companies issued a joint statement that "Namco and Sony BMG are pleased to have resolved this matter and we look forward to continuing our business relationship in the spirit of our mutual respect for intellectual property".
Electronic music artist Richard D. James released an EP in 1992 entitled Power-Pill, consisting of tracks composed primarily using remixes of the musical themes in the Pac-Man arcade game.
In 2008, Sudden Death released a song entitled "Pac-Man" on their Sudden Death album, a parody of "Smack That" by Akon.
In his song "eBay", "Weird Al" Yankovic mentions that he will buy a "Pac-Man Fever" lunch box.
Guinness World Records has awarded the Pac-Man series eight records in Guinness World Records: Gamer's Edition 2008, including "First Perfect Pac-Man Game" for Billy Mitchell's July 3, 1999 score; "Most Successful Coin-Operated Game"; and "Largest Pac-Man Game", when, in 2004, students from New York University created Pac-Manhattan, a real life reenactment of the game, in which people dressed as Pac-Man and the four monsters chased each other around Manhattan city blocks. Each player was teamed with a controller who communicated the player's positions using cellular phones.