Pac-Man, despite first appearing nearly 40 years ago, somehow remains one of the most iconic video game characters of all time. The combination of simple-but-challenging gameplay and near-perfect character design has ensured that the pill-crazed yellow freak remains as recognisable as Mickey Mouse, or The Throat Wizard.
Truth is, however, that the original Pac-Man has rarely been improved upon, and here's a rundown of every Pac-Man arcade game to demonstrate this point.
Pac to life,
Pac to reality,
Pac to the here and now,
It holds the distinction of being the highest-grossing arcade game of all time, and the first to feature cut-scenes - introducing the ghosts Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Fartanus (Clyde).
Who were they the ghosts of? Why, Pac-Man's former creditors, of course!
It was the brainchild of 24 year-old Toru Iwatani, who set out with the intention of creating a game that would appeal equally to girls as boys. Indeed, reports suggest that Pac-Man had more female players than male ones.
Though Iwatani designed several other titles, his other big contribution to gaming was Namco's Pole Position. He also made a cameo appearance in the awful Adam Sandler film Pixels, which is a shame.
The title of Pac-Man came from the Japanese phrase "paku-paku taberu", which describes the sound of a mouth eating... and thus its title alone would enrage Japanese misophonics.
GCC instead offered Crazy Otto to Midway, Namco's American partner, as a complete game - and during development it instead became a bona-fide, if unauthorised, Pac-Man sequel.
Retaining the basic gameplay of its predecessor, Ms Pac-Man introduced four new mazes, a different colour scheme, new movement patterns for the ghosts (one of whom is here called Sue because... female reasons), and a protagonist wearing a bow. You know: like ladies do.
Also, the title suggests that "Pac-Man" was merely the original character's surname, like Smith or "Brown".
Further concessions to femininity were made; unlike Pac-Man, who sort of withered up and collapsed in on himself, like a punctured football, when caught by a ghost, Ms Pac-Man's death throes were far more ladylike: "she dramatically swoons and falls".
Prior to settling on the name Ms Pac-Man, the game was known internally as Pac-Woman and Miss Pac-Man, but the latter was changed due to a cutscene showing Pac-Man and the then-Miss Pac-Man being delivered a baby by a stork. Concerned that this might create a moral panic, the title was changed to Mrs Pac-Man, and then contracted to the snappier Ms Pac-Man just three days before production began.
Unfortunately, the unofficial nature of Ms Pac-Man ultimately led to the termination of the agreement between Namco and Midway (more below), and all rights were turned over to Namco.
I want a game called "Brown".
Though retaining the basic maze concept, Super Pac-Man was a radical departure for the franchise; instead of eating pills, Pac-Man had to now consume keys which opened doors, allowing him to gobble fruit. In addition to the regular power pellets, necking "super" pellets would cause Pac-Man to swell up to monstrous proportions, able to eat his way through doors without needing keys.
You know: like someone on drugs!!!
Here's a thing: how did Tommy in The Who's Tommy play pinball by sense of smell? I'd understand if he had a Daredevil-like sonar sense or something... but smell? How is that possible? He can smell where the ball is?!?
Methinks that Pete Townshend needs to go away and reconsider this.
While the majority of questions were simple logic puzzles or general knowledge, several were Pac-Man themed - such as showing a maze, and asking players to work out how many turns were needed to reach a fruit.
Oddly, the game was allegedly the idea of one Johnny Lott, an American "foosball" champion. When he approached Bally-Midway with the concept, they rejected it. Months later, Lott saw Professor Pac-Man on display at a trade show, and threatened the company with legal action - which was settled out of court.
What a "Lott" of bother!
The other major change from earlier games was the addition of power-ups that would allow Pac-Man to shoot at the ghosts. The power-up items came in the form of references to other Namco games, including the ship from Galaxian and a car from Rally-X.
An alternate version of Pac & Pal was released in the US to coincide with the stupid Pac-Man cartoon series, featuring Pac-Man's stupid dog Chomp-Chomp in place of Miru.
The US version's end screen featured characters from the Pac-Man TV show, and featured the cartoon's theme as it's title music. Because the music is owned by Hanna-Barbara, Pac-Land has rarely been included in nostalgic compilations.
Oh, so you'll change the name from Puckman because of people's dirty minds, but you won't change Spunky, no??!
It allowed two players to compete simultaneously, with one of them controlling a green, and possibly rotting, Pac-Man. Offering more mazes than any of its predecessors, Pac-Man Arrangement also gave Kinky the ability to bestow special powers onto his ghost brethren, transforming them into rabbits or bulls.
Unfortunately, Pac-Man VR appeared towards the end of Virtuality's short-lived presence in arcades, long after the point at which we'd all realised that the technology wasn't quite up to the task, and that we didn't want to thrash around with a bucket on our head while other arcade patrons pointed and laughed at us.
"Oooh, never mind that you've just sunk twenty quid into me and all it'll get you is a bit of burnt string with a Hulk sticker on it: look at all these flashing lights!!!"
You know what's a shame? That there was never a Pac-Man game set in Russia, called Pac In The USSR.
That's a really good joke.