The 1980 arcade labyrinth action video game Pac-Man,[a] also known as Puck Man in Japan, was created and published by Namco. As part of its licensing deal with Namco America, Midway Manufacturing distributed the game in North America. Pac-Man, which the player controls, has to consume every dot inside a maze while avoiding four different colored ghosts. Large flashing dots called “Power Pellets” can be consumed to momentarily make ghosts blue so that Pac-Man can devour them for extra points.
Early in 1979, a nine-person team under the direction of Toru Iwatani started working on the game. Because the majority of video games at the time featured themes of war or sports, Iwatani intended to make a game that could appeal to both men and women. Even though the image of a pizza with a slice missing served as the Pac-Man character’s inspiration, Iwatani has said that he also completed the Japanese character for the mouth.
kuchi, or in Japanese. To appeal to younger players, the in-game characters were developed to be charming and colorful. Puck Man’s North American release title was changed to avoid vandalism since the Japanese phrase “Paku paku tabu,” which means “eating something up,” was the source of the game’s original Japanese name.
A hit single by Buckner & Garcia and multiple sequels, products, and two television programs followed Pac-Man’s widespread critical and economic success. Bandai Namco Entertainment’s mascot is now Pac-Man, a fictional character. With total sales of 43 million units and more than $14 billion in revenue (as of 2016), the game continues to rank among the highest-grossing and best-selling titles. It has a lasting impact on pop culture and the business world and is frequently cited as one of the best video games of all time.
When the game made its North American debut at AMOA 1980, reviews were mostly favorable. The game was described as “a cute game that appears to grow on players, something that cute games are not prone to do” by Play Metre magazine in its preview. They praised the game for having “more to it than first meets the eye,” but pointed out the sound as a flaw, stating it’s “good for a while, then gets annoying.” The game was a huge commercial and critical success when it was first released, beyond all expectations.
On May 22, 1980, in Shibuya, Tokyo, Puck Man location testing got underway to mostly positive applause from participants. The game had a private showing in June before being made available to everyone in July. Aiming for the game’s popularity in Japan, Namco started making arrangements to release it internationally, with an emphasis on the US market. Namco America made a variety of adjustments before presenting the game to distributors, including changing the names of the ghosts. Most importantly, Namco executives were concerned that vandals might convert the “P” in “Puck Man” to an “F,” creating an offensive name. Because he thought Pac-Man was more evocative of the game’s original Japanese name, Pakkuman, Masaya Nakamura decided to rename it. The game was also available in Europe under both the Pac-Man and Puck Man names.
Rally-X was expected to sell the most copies of any game when Namco executives showed Pac-Man and Rally-X to potential distributors at the 1980 AMOA tradeshow in November. Both Pac-Man and Rally-X reportedly attracted only marginal attention at the event, according to Play Metre magazine. Pac-Man distribution had been offered to Atari by Namco at first, but Atari declined. Then, on November 22, Midway production announced that they had acquired the production rights and that they would be releasing Pac-Man and Rally-X in North America in December.
The Pac-Man series has been given eight records by Guinness World Records, including “Most Successful Coin-Operated Game” in Guinness World Records: Gamer’s Edition 2008. Toru Iwatani, the designer of the game, received the official Guinness World Records certificate for Pac-Man having the most “coin-operated arcade machines” installed globally on June 3, 2010, at the NLGD Festival of Games. The record was established in 2005, acknowledged as such, and listed in the 2008 Guinness World Records: Gamer’s Edition. but was finally given in 2010. Pac-Man surpassed Mario in 2009, according to Guinness World Records, as the most recognizable video game character in the country, with 94% of the population knowing who he is. Pac-Man was honored in The Strong National Museum of Play’s World Video Game Hall of Fame in 2015. During the 1980s, the Pac-Man character and game franchise rose to prominence.
Numerous real-life recreations, either involving real humans or robots, have been inspired by the game. In 2004, a gathering named Pac-Manhattan established the “Largest Pac-Man Game” Guinness World Record.
In mergers and acquisitions, the phrase “Pac-Man defense” refers to a hostile takeover target that tries to purchase its would-be acquirer instead. It is a play on Pac-Man’s energizers. In the mathematical analysis of the Mandelbrot set, the “Pac-Man renormalization” is so-called due to a superficial similarity to the character. The name “Pac-Man” has also become popular among athletes, including boxer Manny Pacquiao and American football player Adam Jones.
On August 21, 2016, a brief clip of Pac-Man and the ghosts racing and devouring dots on a running track can be seen at the 2016 Summer Olympics closing ceremony during a video promoting Tokyo as the host city for the 2020 Summer Olympics.
Games magazine praised the Atari 5200 adaptation of the arcade game as a “splendidly reproduced” version of the home console versions in 1982, noting that the maze designs for the television screen were different. Even though it was deemed to have “much weaker graphics” on the Atari 2600, it was nonetheless regarded as one of the greatest games available for that system. In both instances, the reviewer believed that the arcade machine’s controls were easier to handle and that “attempts to make quick turns are frequently frustrating.”
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