Pac-Man

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North American arcade cabinet.

Pac-Man is an action video game developed and published by Namco on 1980-05-22, and distributed by Midway in the USA in 1980-10-26. Pac-Man is the best-selling arcade cabinet to date, and the second most profitable. Despite being so lucrative, the game's designer Toru Iwatani did not receive a bonus or even official recognition from Namco for his creation.

I remember first playing this game in the mid-1980s. I was with my mother and brother, I think at a laundromat in Pontiac. I remember my brother playing and getting to the second stage, but I, being 3-years-younger, couldn't get past the first. I've since watched people who are really good play Pac-Man in arcades, but I've never had much of a desire to get good myself. The game is just too primitive to keep my interest.

Status

I do not own the game. I've never tried hard to get a decent score, and I've never even come close to the kill screen.

Review

  • Overall: 5/10
  • Best Version: Arcade

Good

  • The game is pretty solid. It remains challenging and fast-moving the entire time you play.
  • The increasingly difficult ghosts and shorter-length power pellets increase the challenge of the game at a nice steady rate.
  • Adding a different "personality" to each ghost was a wonderful idea and really adds to the challenge, as did having the ghosts systematically move toward their own corners.
  • Changing the bonus fruit is a nice change of pace.
  • The cut-scenes between levels was a nice break in the action.
  • The game has some pretty memorable sound effects and jingles.

Bad

  • The game is too hard. Most players are unable to beat the first level on their first attempt, which is a bit frustrating.
  • Overall, there isn't much to do with the game. You're essentially repeating the same actions the entire game.
  • Since the game uses a pseudo-randomizer, players can actually just repeat the exact same movements over an over again to beat the game.
  • The game lacks a true victory condition. Sure, the kill screen ends the game, but it's insanely difficult to reach, and wasn't even intended in the first place.
  • There is a minor bug with collision detection where you can sometimes pass right through a ghost.

Ugly

  • Nothing

Media

Box Art

Documentation

Screenshots

Design Documents

Gallery

Videos

Credits

Although Pac-Man doesn't feature credits, fans of the game have discovered the majority of the design staff.

Person Roles
Toru Iwatani Game Designer
Shigeichi Ishimura Hardware Designer, Audio Designer
Shigeo Funaki Programmer
Toshio Kai Sound Composer

Color Palette

The original arcade version of Pac-Man uses a hardware-based color PROM to determine its colors. The PROM stores a palette of 256 colors in a single byte. The red, green, and blue channels are defined by the bit pattern BBGGGRRR which allows for eight levels of intensity for red and green and four levels for blue. The display hardware could only work with an index of 16 colors chosen from the palette of 256, and even then, each background tile or sprite could only be composed of up to four colors from the index of 16. Despite having 16 possible colors to work with, the designers occupied four slots with black, resulting in only 13 unique colors. These blacks appear to be used in certain graphics to color things invisible. For example, when a ghost is eaten, there isn't a separate graphic for just its eyes, instead, the ghost's sheet is drawn black, same with pellets. Also, the area inside the maze walls is colored a different black than the background.

In the table below I've converted the colors from the game into RBG equivalents using an increment of 36 for the red and green channels and an increment of 85 for the blue channel. As far as I know, this does not properly emulate the color PROM's method, and I'm not able to get the true binary value for each color, but it yields a fairly accurate result. More advanced emulators, like MAME probably emulate the PROM, but they also adjust each pixel based on its nearby pixels to better emulate CRTs, so they don't give a true result either.

Index Swatch Color Converted RGB Binary / Hex / Decimal Uses
0 Black 0, 0, 0 00000000 0x00 0 Background
1 Red 252, 0, 0 00000111 0x07 7 Blinky, cherry, strawberry, apple, Galaxian ship
2 Tan 216, 144, 85 01100110 0x66 102 Orange top, cherry stem
3 Pink 252, 180, 255 11101111 0xEF 239 Pinky, ghost house door
4 Black 0, 0, 0 00000000 0x00 0 Background
5 Cyan 0, 252, 255 11111000 0xF8 248 Inky, player text
6 Light Blue 72, 180, 255 11101010 0xEA 234 Key top, bell bottom
7 Orange 252, 180, 85 01101111 0x6F 111 Clyde, orange
8 Black 0, 0, 0 00000000 0x00 0 Background
9 Yellow 252, 252, 0 00111111 0x3F 63 Pac-Man, ready!, bell, Galaxian ship
A Black 0, 0, 0 00000000 0x00 0 Background
B Blue 36, 36, 255 11001001 0xC9 192 Maze walls, flashing ghosts, ghost pupils, Galaxian ship
C Green 0, 252, 0 00111000 0x38 56 Melon, strawberry top, orange leaf
D Teal 72, 180, 170 10101010 0xAA 170 Melon wrinkles and stem
E Salmon 252, 180, 170 10101111 0xAF 175 Dots, ghost body
F White 252, 252, 255 11111111 0xFF 255 Flashing ghosts, scores, text, ghost eyes, fruit highlights

More details about the Pac-Man color palette: aarongiles.com/mamemem/part3.html.

Titles

Language Native Transliteration Translation
English Pac-Man
Japanese パックマン Pakkuman Pakku Man

Links