Pac-Man is officially celebrating his 30th anniversary. This makes me feel old, as I grew up on this video game. We would hit the store right at the corner of 441 and 54th street just to play Pac-Man. He is an icon – a part of, and will go down in, American pop culture history. It is arguably the most famous video game and character of all time.
Pac-Man is an arcade game developed by Namco and licensed for distribution in the U.S. by Midway. It was released in Japan on May 22, 1980. Upon its release, the game became a social phenomenon that sold a ton of merchandise and inspired an animated television series and a top-ten hit single titled “Pac-Man Fever”. You can’t forget to include Lil’ Flip’s Hit “Game Over” which sampled Pac-Man throughout.
When Pac-Man was released, the most popular arcade video games were of the space shooter genre. The most visible minority were sports games that were derivatives of Pong. Pac-Man succeeded by creating a new genre and appealed 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. Pac-Man is one of the longest running 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.
The player controls Pac-Man through a maze, eating dots. After consuming all of the dots on the board, Pac-Man goes to the next stage. Four “ghosts” (Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde) roam the maze, trying to catch Pac-Man. If a monster touches Pac-Man, he loses his life. When all lives have been lost, the game ends. Pac-Man is awarded a single bonus life at 10,000 points by default.
In 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.
Pac-Man was so popular, the creators figured they could parlay its success into other Pac-Man franchises. The list includes the following: Ms. Pac-Man, Pac-Man Plus, Jr. Pac-Man and Baby Pac-Man. Pac-Man was everywhere — T-Shirts, stickers, a cartoon, a board game…there was even a cereal! Even the Atari version of Pac-Man could keep you glued while you played on your black and white TV (was that only me?).
For the 30th anniversary of its release, Google changed its homepage logo to a fully playable version of the game, making history being the first fully interactive Google logo created. All you had to do was click the “Insert Coin” button and use your mouse to control where Pac-Man would go. PRMA