Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Pac Man - A Legend That Is All Face

The 80's spawned a slew of classic videogames and when Namco released Pac Man in 1980 to a delighted audience, Pacmania took off like wildfire. (Can fire actually take off? Hmm answers on a postcard.) The game itself was simple; guide a yellow orb around a maze while being chased by ghosts (Blinky, Pinky, Inky & Clyde) and eating dots and various fruit to get a hi-score. Eat one of the larger flashing dots and for a few seconds Paccy was able to chase and eat his pursuers.
To me it is arcade gaming in its purest form where it is all about the scores and 30 years on (where does time disappear too? *shudder*) I am STILL going back to it via a Playstation 3 download to try and beat my best score. (For the record it stands at a rather puny 20180 in 5 mins 23 seconds.) It never gets old for me. Frustrating at times when I get close to beating my personal best only to balls it up but never old. Its the typical timeless classic that resulted in an avalanche of spin off merchendise from lunchboxes and figures to duvet covers and shampoo. (Ive never actually seen the shampoo but its bound to be in Japan somewhere.)

the iconic intro screen

Pac Man is without doubt one of THE most recognisable videogaming mascots, in fact a great mascot for everything 1980's. The yellow guy is up there with breakdancing and Miami Vice. And who can forget that catchy music at the start of the game? Great stuff and for me the whole Pac Man package from arcade cabinet to cartoony images and bright colours heralded the arrival of computers and technology, announcing to the world 'This Is The Future!'
Regarding the games enemies, or ghosts, many casual players are not aware how clever they are. To onlookers watching Pac Man being played it looks like the ghosts are just following any path through the maze but this is not the case. Each of the four have different 'personalities' and styles. Blinky is the chaser, Pinky an ambusher, Inky is fickle and Clyde is the stupid one. Paccy creator Toru Iwatani said that he had designed each enemy with its own distinct personality in order to keep the game from becoming impossibly difficult or boring to play.
Some retroheads are divided in so far as the game itself is concerned, some are even bored of it but there's no doubting its impact on the entertainment world. Pac Man was/is HUGE! A giant amongst erm...yellow discs with big mouths. And don't forget there was Ms Pac Man (Pac Woman surely?) who also had her own games. Now how many game heroes can say they have girlfriends to go home to after a tiring day being set upon by neon ghosts? Not many. Wacca Wacca Wacca Wacca!

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