2021: Pacman’s 41st Birthday – a Review of the Game

For Namco, in the early 1980s, Pac-Man was a huge thing. It, without exaggeration, has become a real symbol of the 20th century. It is unlikely that it will be possible to find someone who, if not played Pac-Man, then at least did not hear about this game, since it became one of the first phenomena of the gaming world that penetrated the sphere of popular culture. In fact, the game was so popular that Namco’s additional Pac-Man revenue exceeded what the company earned from slot machine sales.

The interest in the game was so extraordinary that slot machine firms ordered several devices at once, rather than one at a time, which was common for new games. This strategy seemed justified in light of the potential loss of income associated with people queuing up to play Pac-Man. Therefore, several machines were placed in the halls, trying to collect more coins in their money boxes, which was good for both the owners of gaming salons and Namco.


About the Creation of Pac-Man

Pac-Man’s creator, Toru Iwatani, joined Namco, then called Nakamura Manufacturing, in 1977 when he was 22 years old. Initially, he repaired licensed black and white Atari video game boards that were distributed in Japan. This is also a period of many other great games and you can download Nintendo DS ROMs and play them any time you want. 

Toru was a huge fan of pinball and told management that he was working on a video version of the game. Namco’s first arcade video game, Gee Bee, which also proved to be successful, was also developed by Toru. Inspired by its success, Namco, in 1979, released Galaxian, the very first game with color graphics. At the time, this was a revolutionary accomplishment. 

Iwatani understood that the market was dominated by games created by analogy with the early successful shooters and drew inspiration from the creations of the overseas Atari, which enjoyed universal adoration (and received good income) for its games – bright, colorful, implementing many different ideas and concepts. He was particularly encouraged that the games that Atari created were, by nature, positive. He wanted to create something that would be built on the same model.

Rather than focusing on shooting games, Iwatani explored topics that would not only interest male players but also appeal to couples and women alike. These categories of players perceived games differently than men.

Several Fun Facts

Iwatani saw the protagonist of the game in a pizza he once ordered, one of the pieces of which he had already taken from the plate. While eating pizza, he looked at what was left of it and saw that a character was looking at him. Pac-Man was made friendly so people could associate themselves with him. 

The addition of ghosts to the game gave it the mood of the Tom and Jerry cartoons, which Iwatani believed would appeal to a wide audience of players. Despite the fact that he was advised to add eyes, hair, and other details to the protagonist, he persistently refused all this, deciding that the character should be a simple figure painted over with pure yellow. As a result, Pacman and the ghosts are simple and attractive.

The role of enemies in Pac-Man is played by four multi-colored ghosts – Blinky, Pinky, Clyde, and Inky. It took a lot of programmers’ effort to develop them. Imagine four enemies continuously chasing Pacman, guided by the same set of rules. They, sooner or later, will line up one after the other, following the main character through the maze and doing nothing interesting. 

In order to prevent this from happening, algorithms have been developed, thanks to which the ghosts, on the one hand, do their job, chasing the hero, and on the other hand, they behave differently. Here is a quick description of the features of each of the ghosts:

● Blinky: A red ghost, stalking Pacman without much fuss.
● Pinky: A pink ghost that targets a position 32 pixels from the front of the protagonist.
● Inky: a blue ghost trying to get to a point found using a special algorithm that takes into account the position of the player and another ghost – Blinky.
● Clyde: an orange ghost, which, depending on the distance from the main character, chases Pacman, then goes to the lower-left corner of the maze.

It is worth noting here that ghosts, in fact, do not have real artificial intelligence, although it may seem that it is so.

41 years have passed since the release of Pac-Man but it is still literally everywhere. Its impact on the acceptance of gaming by society cannot be underestimated. It influenced the understanding that achievements in games are as real as in other areas of life. The game, after its appearance, continued to be re-released, and its symbol – Pacman – long ago left its limits, going to travel the world. 

Also Read – 10 Best Nintendo DS ROMs for Free Download


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