Happy 35th Birthday, Pac-Man: 35 Fun Facts About The Iconic Yellow Disc


Join us as we celebrate the 35th birthday of one of our most favorite games of all time: Pac-Man! The classic arcade game was released in the U.S. on May 22, 1980 and we dug up 35 tidbits about the world's most instantly recognizable game and character right here:

The original 1980 Pac-Man game was only 24 kilobytes - about the size of an average image of Pac-Man on the internet today.

It's amazing to think about how much information they were able to pack in such a small file; a big reason for its phenomenal success because of its simplicity. The game is much more simple than originally envisioned, Pac-Man was also supposed to have a roving "shelter" in the game - a moving house that could trap or squash ghosts in its path.

But even though this shelter did not make it to the final cut of the game, Pac-Man can still find refuge by hiding on the right-most side of the T-like wall on the top of the screen. You have to get there from the bottom of the screen though without any of the ghosts seeing you, but once you get there, you'll find that none of the 4 ghosts will ever go up to the T.

The simplicity of the game and gameplay also make it a perfect avenue to help kids learn about coding. Aside from Pong and Space Invaders, Pac-Man is also a favorite coding project for young students.

Many games have won awards for their cinematic cutscenes -- Intermissions that allow the story to unfold in-between levels as you progress through the game. But did you know that Pac-Man was the first ever game to feature such a storytelling tool? Sure they weren't quite as narrative as today's movie-worthy cutscenes are, but he was a trailblazer nonetheless.

The ghosts also had very different names in the original Japanese game, which actually alluded to their behavior on the screen.

Blinky the Red ghost, was Oikake, which means Chaser. He would chase Pac-Man most aggressively because he was programmed to always aim his movements to the tile where Pac-Man was on.

Pinky, the Pink one of course, was originally Machibuse, or Ambusher. She was programmed to always place herself two tiles in front of Pac-Man and essentially trap him in an ambush attack between herself and another ghost (usually Blinky).

Inky's Japanese name was Kimagure, meaning Fickle. This Blue ghost's behavior is somewhat tricky but easy to get the hand of once you understand his pattern. He was programmed to move in relation to both Pac-Man and Blinky. If you could draw a straight line between those two characters, Inky's target would be to move two tiles in front of Pac-Man, after this imaginary line.

And finally, Orange Clyde was Otoboke - Feigning Ignorance. Often seen as the lazy, yet most random ghost, he usually just hangs out at the bottom left of the maze, circling around that area, only moving similarly to how Inky does when Pac-Man dares to venture at least 8 tiles too near him.

So now that you know how each ghost is programmed, you can strategize how to maneuver Pac-Man around the maze better!

And there's more! If those names weren't confusing enough, each ghost also had a respective "real name" which is displayed on the screen alongside their more well-known nicknames when the game is in Attract Mode. Their real names are Shadow, Speedy, Bashful and Pokey.

Could you imagine a Pac-Man world where the ghosts were only one color? If the President of Namco at the time had her way, they most certainly would have been all red. She pressured Iwatani to make all the ghosts a single color in order to prevent gamers from being confused if some of the ghosts were allies or enemies. Thankfully, Iwatani surveyed early gaming testers if they preferred the candy-hued ghosts and all of them agreed that the multi-colored ghosts should stay.

As for Pac-Man's yellow color, it was decided upon because it was thought that yellow as a peaceful and neutral color.

It has been reported that 94 percent of Americans recognize Pac-Man. In fact, in 2010, the Guinness World Records named him as the Most Recognized Video Game Character.

Not only is he the most recognizable game, Pac-Man is one of the most tattooed characters as well! Check out some of these skin ink dedicated to the yellow munchie.

And that's not the first Guinness Record Pac-Man has under his belt. In 2005, he was also named Most Successful Coin-Operated Game.

At the 2015 Superbowl, BudLight created a life-sized Pac-Man maze, compete with ghosts to chase around contestants, for their ad entitled, Coin.

But even before that, another group of students in 2004 also had the great idea to turn Greenwich Village in NYC into a real life Pac-Man game. Using their cellphones to track each other's positions, one of them dressed up all in yellow while his friends chased him around the city as the ghosts. They called their larger-than-life game, Pac Manhattan.

If playing Pac-Man on real-life streets doesn't appeal to you, Google Maps also offers you a way to play on real-life virtual streets. On April Fool's Day 2015, Google introduced a small, seemingly innocent Pac-Man icon to Google Maps. But once you clicked it, the map of the street you were looking at instantly turned into a playable Pac-Man maze.

Pac-Man was originally created to bring girls into the arcade. When asked how he designed a game to bring women into the 80's gaming scene, designer Toru Iwatani said he chose a theme which he figured girls wouldn't be able to resist - eating candies. Because, "girls love to eat desserts!"

Toru Iwatani must have had more than just girls in mind when he created Pac-Man, but a serious case of the munchies as well! Different versions of how Pac-Man's iconic shape came to be float around. The first is that Iwatani was inspired by a pizza with one slice removed. Yet other sources also say that his design was based of the Japanese symbol for mouth, "Kuchi."

Even the name Pac-Man alludes to eating. Originally, he was named Puckman, derived from the Japanese word paku-paku, which means to chomp. The word also sounds like someone chomping on delicious goodies. However, when the game was to be brought to arcades in the U.S., it was feared that vandals could all too easily change the "P" into an "F" on the machines. Therefore, a revision to the name Pac-Man was adopted.

The power-ups that Pac-Man eats on the screen were originally cookies for him to munch on and the larger pellets were "power cookies" which turn the candy-colored ghosts into blue cookies for Pac-Man to eat when he turns the table on them.

Speaking of turning the tables, Pac-Man has not only permeated pop and gaming culture, but economics too. When a company that is about to be acquired suddenly is able to take over the hostile company, it is called a Pac-Man defense.

There are 240 small dots on the screen in each level of the game, each of which is worth 10 points each. The 4 larger power cookies are worth 50 points each.

Blink and you'll miss him - in the original 1982 Tron movie starring Jeff Bridges, Pac-Man makes a cameo appearance.

The highest possible score you could achieve in the original arcade game was 3,333,360. But no one was able to attain this goal until 19 years after it was first released. Billy Mitchell played for 6 hours straight in order to beat the game on July 3, 1999. Since then, only four others have managed to tie with him: Rick Fothergill (July 31, 1999), Chris Ayra (Feb. 16, 2000), Tim Balderramos (Dec. 4, 2004) and Donald Hayes (July 21, 2005).

The reason why 3,333,360 was the highest attainable score is because after level 256, the game becomes so glitchy that the maze is only half visible with the other half being a random mess of numbers and colors that force you out of the game.

While we're on the subject of levels, did you know that there is a Pac-Man restaurant in Chicago called Level 257 - in reference to that very kill screen? The 40,000 square foot eatery is located in Woodfield Mall and boasts of cocktails named "1-Up," "Game Over," or "Midway."

Outside of the gaming world, Filipino boxer, Manny Pacquiao was nicknamed "Pacman" by swapping the first two syllables of his name - Man and Pac. His uncle and first trainer, Sardo Mejia, said he thought "Man-Pac" sounded awkward, so they called him Pacman instead.

As many gamers have discovered, it is possible to go through each maze level of the game following specific patterns mapped out (and available from various online sources) to attain a perfect game.

In 2011, Toru Iwatani, expressed his interest to create a singing Pac-Man.

And finally, although nobody at the time thought it would ever grow to be such a huge, worldwide success, Pac-Man became immensely popular very quickly. "Within 15 months of Pac-Man's U.S. release, Namco/Bandai sold more than 100,000 arcade units, and fans spent more than $1 billion in quarters to play this game."

Today, Pac-Man adorns over "400 products: a cartoon, a breakfast cereal, a hit song, pasta, lunchboxes, bedspreads and apparel, among others."

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Photo: Koen Thanks 1 Mios View | Flickr

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