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Reviews (N-Z)

Pac-Man

MANUFACTURER: NAMCO
1
981 (1-2 Players)


 

 

Overview and game play

Pac-Man is the best-selling coin-operated game in history and a classic arcade game. In the game's debut year alone, over 100,000 Pac-Man machines were made and sold around the world. Pac-Man’s game play is relatively simple which partly lead to its phenomenal popularity. The objective of the game is to control Pac-Man around a maze in four directions: up, down, left and right eating Pac-Dots, Power-Pills and bonus items while avoiding 4 ghosts who chase Pac-Man relentlessly. Upon consuming a Power-Pill Pac-Man gets a temporary surge of energy and the ghosts turn blue for a few seconds and float away from Pac-Man who can then eat the ghosts in their vulnerable state. Upon clearing a maze of all Pac-Dots and Power-Pills a new maze appears with different bonus items to collect. The following Pac-Man facts are from the Mame History Data File and the Pac-Man History Website :

Namco estimates that the original Pac-Man arcade title has been played more than ten billion times in its 20-year history. Namco's total Pac-Man revenues have reached $100 million... one quarter at a time.

A pizza with a slice missing inspired Pac-Man. Namco designer Tohru Iwatani went out for the evening with some friends and then went for dinner. The rest is history.

1982 saw the debut of ABC's animated cartoon, The Pac-Man Show. It ran for two years as Pac-Man tried to save his friends and Pac-Land from the evil Mezmaron.

Jerry Buckner and Gary Garcia spoofed Ted Nugent's song Cat Scratch Fever and turned it into Pac-Man Fever.

 

 

 

Dozens of hacked versions of Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man exist. These games give the Pac character a speed bonus with the push of a button or more challenging mazes with complex series of turns.

It took eight people 15 months to complete the original Pac-Man arcade title. Four worked on the hardware, four worked on the software.

Pac-Man travels 20 percent faster through mazes that have been cleared of Pac-Dots than when he's eating. If you've got a ghost on your tail, head for open ground.

Pac-Man has been licensed to more than 250 companies for over 400 products. There are Pac-Man air fresheners, cereal boxes, flip phones, costumes, record books, and even a hot rod.

The business world has co-opted Pac-Man's name as a technique to protect against a hostile takeover. The defending company would instead swallow the larger company in a move known as the Pac-Man defense.

In July of 1999, Florida resident and die-hard Pac-Man fan Billy Mitchell achieved the first perfect score in Pac-Man (3,333,360) after playing for six hours straight. He beat all 256 screens eating every dot, fruit, and ghost (all four ghosts were eaten with each power pellet) - using only one Pac-Man!

The name Pac-Man is derived from the Japanese slang word paku-paku, which means, "to eat". The game was called Puck-Man in Japan, but due to American's predilection with changing words to vulgarities by scratching part of the word off (Puck to...well, you know), it was changed to Pac-Man

To give the game some tension, some clever AI was programmed into the game. The ghosts would group up, attack the player, and then disperse. Each ghost had its own AI. Blinky chases Pac-Man, Pinky is positioned a few dots in front of Pac-Man's mouth. The others move randomly.

Pac-Man was also the first game to have a character and was the first video game to be as equally popular with women as it was with men.

 

Graphics

Pac-Man’s graphics were highly impressive in comparison with other games available in the early 1980’s and contain several details that enhance the game play. As the ghosts follow Pac-Man around each maze, their eyes look in the direction they are moving. When Pac-Man eats a Power-Pill, the ghosts turn blue. If a ghost is eaten its body disappears leaving only its eyes that float back around the maze to the ghost home. The ghost’s body then reappears and it then rejoins the other ghosts in chasing Pac-Man, but the time the ghost takes to dress itself can be used by Pac-Man to eat more Pac-Dots. An element of the graphics that brings excitement to the game is guessing whether it is safe to pursue and eat a ghost that has been blue for a few seconds. Ghosts flash between blue and white as the effect of Pac-Man’s Power Pill wears off. It is still safe to eat a ghost while it is flashing, but when the flashing stops, the ghost is back to normal and touching it will make Pac-Man loose one of the three lives he starts with. Extra lives can be earned upon reaching certain point scores.

 

 

The basic maze structure was skillfully designed to enhance the game play. The ghosts home is in the center of the screen away from all the Power-Pills that are placed in the 4 corners of each maze. The location of the ghosts home gives them quick access to wherever Pac-Man may be. Bonus items appear just below the ghosts home which makes obtaining them more challenging and also because the Power-Pills are far away from that area. The mazes also have a tunnel that leads off-screen. If Pac-Man or a ghost enters the tunnel at one side of the screen, they will reappear on the other side of the screen unless they change direction while inside the tunnel. This innovative design added much to the game play of Pac-Man allowing players to experiment with different tactics to eat all the Pac-Dots. 

Enjoyable diversions are also present in Pac-Man in the form of cut scenes that appear between some mazes. These cut scenes add some humour to the game and allow the player a chance to have a brief rest before continuing play.

 

Sound

Along with Space Invaders, Pac-Man has the most memorable sound effects of all arcade games. As Pac-Man eats the Pac-Dots in each maze, he makes a sound like “Wocca-Wocca”. Upon eating a Power-Pill, a sound effect plays indicating it’s safe to eat the ghosts. A superb sound effect plays when a ghost is eaten. A little tune plays at the start of the game and during play there is a sound similar to a police siren that starts slowly and plays faster as more Pac-Dots are eaten by Pac-Man. The siren effect increases tension in the game and adds a lot to the game play.   

 

 




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