35 Years ago Friday, a legend was born. “Pac-man” made its debut in Japanese arcades. Three-and-a-half decades and billions of glowing dots later, the yellow gaming icon has appeared in more than 70 titles.
He has adorned cereal boxes, t-shirts and bed sheets, been the star of a saturday morning cartoon program and appeared on virtually every gaming platform to have ever been released.
He’s always hungry, and he’s turning 35 years old.
Born in Tokyo in 1980, our yellow friend was originally named puck-man after the japanese paku; essentially, to chomp. But, given its closeness to a certain four-letter english word, a some concerned arcade shop owners, puck-man became pac-man.
Within 15 months of its U.S. Release in October 1980, game maker Bandai/Namco sold more than 100,000 arcade units and fans spent over $1 billion — in quarters.
A pop-culture phenomenon had begun.
Pac-Man is now the star of one of the most successful video games of all time and according to the Guinness Book of World Records, is one of the most recognizable of all video game characters.
Pac-man’s creator, Toru Iwatani, has said Pac-Man was meant to attract female gamers — to expand on the traditional male audience.
Another revolutionary idea in Pac-Man; to keep things interesting, each ghost behaves differently. One simply chases you, two try to attack from the front, and the fourth will seem like it is chasing you and then abruptly change course. Inky, Blinky, Pinky and Clyde are dangerous, until they’re lunch.
I would be remiss not to mention his wife, Mrs. Pac-Man, a legend in her own right, or point out that Pac-Man is as relevant today as ever with his own interactive Google doodle in 2010 and starring in a beer commercial in Super Bowl 49. So raise a glass or chop a dot to pac man.
Happy birthday, old boy.
According to the video game record keepers at Twin-Galaxies, Pac-Man arcade machines have generated more than $2.5 billion in sales.
That comes to about 10 billion quarters!