In honor of Pac-Man’s thirty-second anniversary (the game came out on 22 May 1980), I come bearing Pac-Man trivia.
- The game is known in Japan as Pakkuman, with “pakkun” meaning ” to eat whole,” based on the onomatopoeia for opening and closing one’s mouth. The Piranha Plants in the Super Mario series are Pakkun Flowers in Japan, based on the same root.
- When the game was first brought to the United States, the intended name was Puck Man, which reflected the Japanese name while also referring to the character’s shape. This name was shot down because it would have been too easy to vandalize by changing the P.
- Pac-Man’s female counterpart, Ms. Pac-Man, was given her own game in 1982.
It was originally unauthorized, but Namco liked it enough to make it an official sequel.
- The game that became Ms. Pac-Man was originally called Crazy Otto, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this name came from the same guy who inspired Evil Otto in Berzerk.
- As Drew explains in this post, the movements of the ghosts are not entirely random.
- Blinky, the red ghost and the one who actually chases Pac-Man, is considered the leader of the ghosts.
- Hanna-Barbera’s Pac-Man cartoon ran for two seasons, in 1982 and 1983. Plots revolved around a guy named Mezmaron who wanted to get his hands on the power pellets for some reason, and sent out the ghosts to carry out his schemes. Ms. Pac-Man was known as “Pepper,” probably because just calling her “Ms. Pac-Man” would have been confusing. There was also an Irish cop named Officer O’Pac. No, seriously.
- The song “Pac-Man Fever” by Buckner & Garcia, released as a single in December 1981, was a huge hit and led to the duo recording an entire album of video game songs.
- Weird Al also recorded a “Pac-Man” song, a parody of the Beatles’ “Taxman.” From what I’ve heard (which may not be entirely accurate), it never received an official release because George Harrison refused to grant permission.
- The different items Pac-Man can eat for additional points, along with their point values, are listed here. Yes, Pac-Man can apparently digest bells and keys. Not ghosts, though, because he always has to spit out the eyes.
- The port of Pac-Man to Atari home systems was horribly rushed, with terrible sound quality and a screen that flashed a lot. Fortunately, the Ms. Pac-Man port was much better.
- The Texas Instruments computer I had as a kid had a game called Munch Man, which was essentially a Pac-Man rip-off. Game mechanics were basically the same, except with different enemies in each level, and the goal was to create a chain rather than to eat dots.