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 :
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
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.
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.
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.
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.