Pac-Man, the most successful coin-operated video game in history, was released in Japan on May 22,1980. Pac-Man is an icon of ’80s pop culture. Not only did it boost the popularity of video games, it generated spin-off games, merchandise, a television show, and even a cereal!
When Pac-Man was released, the most popular arcade video games were space shooters, such as Space Invaders and Asteroids.
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).
The original Japanese name was Puckman, which evolved from the Japanese word paku, meaning ‘chomp.’ But in America, arcade operators were worried that vandals would alter the letter P. Eventually, ‘Pac’ was suggested as an alternate name.
To play the game, you would insert your quarter, then use the joystick to move Pac-Man through a maze and eat dots, and avoid the four ghosts – Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde. 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 How many of you would become greedy and try to get all the ghosts? But then just when you try to get one of the last ghosts, they would flash white, and they would get you before you could get them.
In addition to 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.
In 1982, Pac-Man was released for Atari. For people how had Intellivision instead of Atari, you had to settle for Lock & Chase.
Pac-Man spawned numerous sequels, the most significant of which is Ms. Pac-Man, released in the United States in 1981. 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.
In 1982, Milton Bradley released a board game based on Pac-Man.
An animated TV series was produced by Hanna–Barbera and aired on ABC from 1982 to 1984:
The song “Pac-Man Fever,” by Jerry Buckner and Gary Garcia, reached No. 9 on the Billboard pop chart in early 1982:
And you know you’ve made it when “Weird Al” Yankovic does a parody song about you. Here is “Weird Al”‘s Pac-Man song, done to the music of The Beatles’ “Taxman”:
If it wasn’t for Pac-Man (the game, not those songs!), there may never have been a Mario, Lara Croft, or Call of Duty video games.