One of the most iconic computer game heroes recently celebrated its PacMan 30th anniversary. Today’s youth do not know much about the fact that this bitten yellow wheel has significantly affected the entire game scene. We want to change that.
At the end of May, it was exactly thirty years since the legendary Pac-Man first came out in Japan and immediately became a hit. Since then, the game has come out in hundreds of forms on a variety of devices, its simple but addictive principles work reliably to this day, and people who have never played a video game know Pac-Mana.
The player’s task is to collect all the balls hidden in the maze without getting caught by the four ghosts. As is often the case in similar cases, there is a lot of hard work and necessary compromises behind the simple principle. Here are ten interesting things you probably didn’t know about the iconic game.
1. Name Change Due To Vandals
The game was originally called Pakkuman, after the Japanese term “paku paku taberu”, which can be loosely translated as sweetheart. For the American market, it was then called Puckman, due to the form of the main character with a hockey puck. But fortunately, someone smart in the management of the company noticed that all you have to do is smear the arc at the letter P and suddenly Fuckman is a cute monster. The phonetically similar “Pac-Man” was actually chosen only with regard to potential vandals.
2. Challenging Development
Although the game is relatively simple and takes up only 24 kB, probably like an ordinary text document, its development took 17 months. This was a record at a time when most competitions were formed within weeks, at most months.
Pac-Man made history by saying that it was the first title in which the player could collect short-term improvements (so-called power-ups) and the player was rewarded with an unplayable cut-scene for completing the level.
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3. Game for Women
The main motivation for the creation of Pac-Man was the fact that the Japanese developer Torah Iwatani felt that all period games were violent shooters for men, while he wanted to make arcade games a place for the whole family. Therefore, as he wondered what topic would best appeal to the female audience, it occurred to him that the food would be awake. From there, it was only a step toward the eternally hungry hero.
The inspiration for a special bonus, after which the situation on the playing field temporarily reverses and Pac-Man becomes a hunter, then a sailor came from the Pepek series, where spinach has a similar effect on the main character.
4. Pac-Man is Married
As early as 1982, Pac-Man received a sequel in which the main heroine was a woman. The original name Pac-Woman was not liked by the Midway manager, so the game was renamed Miss Pac-Man. However, he did not take it either, because it was not evident from him that the main characters were married. In the end, the game came out under the name Ms. Pac-Man, that is, Mrs. Pac-Man.
5. Ghosts have a Personality
The ghosts that chase the protagonist do not only differ in color, but have completely different personalities and patterns of behavior. The red ghost is called Oikake and Pac-Man is constantly tracking, the pink Machibus is trying to overtake him, the light blue Kimagure is controlled by chance and the orange Otoboke changes his behavior according to how far he is from the player’s character.
6. Mythical Level 256
The original game has a total of 255 levels and can collect a maximum of 3,333,360 points. The first to achieve this score was the legendary player Billy Mitchell, but after his proven fraud in Donkey Kong (we wrote here ) all game records were taken away from him. Since then, seven players have achieved the highest score, with David Race doing the fastest in 3 hours, 28 minutes and 49 seconds.
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In 1982, then-eight-year-old Jeffrey R. Yee received a letter from US President Ronald Raegan congratulating him on humbling the mythical level 256. However, due to a technical error in the game code, the graphics do not display well and are essentially unplayable. There is no evidence of Jeffrey’s performance, and despite the ten thousand dollars’ reward, no one has been able to repeat it since. It is therefore generally considered to be a fraud.
7. Pac-Man Phenomenon
The impact of the famous Pac-Man on pop culture is huge and you would hardly look for a better-known game brand. Already in 1982, a cartoon series of the same name was created based on his motifs, which is the first series ever based on a computer game. The pop-up pacifier Pac-Man Fever was created in the same year by the couple Jerry Buckner & Gary Garcia, which reached the ninth place in the US charts, and two books dedicated to this game appeared in the New York Times bestseller list in the same year. In 2015, Pac-Man became an important character in the comedy Pixels with Adam Sandler, and the organizers of the (currently postponed) Tokyo Olympics also used his fame to promote their country.
8. Too Addictive
As Google allowed people to play a simple version of the game in a web browser through its front page in Pac-Man’s 30th birthday, it reportedly had a huge impact on productivity. According to the operators of the “boning” service RescueTime , which oversees the way employees spend their working time, almost five million hours have been spent in the game worldwide, and companies have allegedly lost almost three billion crowns.
9. Secret Place
There is a secret place hidden in the maze, where the ghosts do not chase the main character. It is not marked in any way, but professional players use it to break records. After all, spending hours at the game without being able to pee is a bit dangerous.
10. Pac-man Live
In 2004, a group of interactive telecommunications students at New York University organized the Pac-Manhattan project, in which they played Pac-Man on the city streets. The player controlled a real man by phone, who followed the instructions, running through the streets, trying not to get caught by enemy ghosts. The innovative game became a hit and got Pac-Man into the mainstream media.