Pac-Man: The eternal legacy

8 years ago

Discover the history of Pac-Man and its vast legacy

"The most important aspect when creating a game is to take into account how people are going to play, what they're going to feel and how they're going to react. It's all about trying to understand how the mind works", said Toru Iwatani, the creator of the famous videogame Pacman, in 2001 during the Game Developers Conference. For him, the most important thing is to understand people, it's what he based he based himself on to create the game and what allowed Pac-Man to succeed.

When the game was launched back in May 21st, 1980 by the Japanese company Namco, most games seen in arcades were violent, aggressive and had killing as the main goal, like the ever popular Space Invaders. Therefore, most of the playerbase was made up of men and Iwanati wanted to change that: "I wanted to make a game which felt closer to femenine users." However, Pac-Man has never been a game focused on women.

The small, yellow character and its ghostly enemies managed to conquer all types of users, of all ages, genders and nationalities. So much that it even held the Guiness World Record for the most successful arcade videogame with a total of 293,822 machines sold between 1981 and 1987.

"It has a simple design, simple rules and an adorable image; it's what's made people keep loving Pac-Man," claims Iwanati. They focused on fun and that's why they based their game on eating; and that's why Pac-Man is inspired on a pizza missing a slice and the name comes from the Japanese onomatopoeia "paku" which is used to describe the sound made when opening and closing one's mouth. They also went with non scary ghosts, almost lovable.

Each ghost has a different color, personality and movement. The red one wants to hunt Pacman directly, whereas the orange one moves randomly around the maze. The pink-colored ghost stays at a distance of 32 pixels from Pac-Man and the blue one is placed simmetrically, depending on Pac-Man.

Or at least these were the characteristics when it was created. It's been 35 years since the game has been in the industry, and versions and products with its image have not stopped coming out., it even has its own TV show! Long story short, the game set a milestone for videogames since it was the first one to use an identifiable character with which the users could connect and also accessible for everyone.

Pac-Man has been featured in exactly 63 games from 1980 to 2014, in original versions of the game like "Super Pac-Man", "Pan Attack" or "Pac Land", as well as a guest character in "Mario Kart Arcade GP" or on a compilation of games like "Namco Museum: 50th Anniversary." Not happy with Pac-Man and its success, they created a femenine version in 1981: Ms. Pac_Man, and in 1982, the yellow character's child, Baby Pac-Man.

At Spritted, you can also play our own version of the Namco classic: Super Fat is a fast food super heroe; the same as Pac-Man, he eats everything in his patch, from hamburgers to hot dogs or meatballs. But he's not a super heroe for eating, he also has to fight against the food that fights against its destiny and tries to finish off Pacman Super Fat's stomach. Don't wait any longer and try it!

"Innovation and difference, it's something that videogame creators must take into account"; these are Toru Iwanati's words, and seeing the success he's had, it's a very valuable piece of advice.

Article written by Paula Gil Alonso


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