The Many Incarnations of Pac-Man

Welcome to the first part in a series I call “The Many Incarnations of… ”, a column which will chronicle the different game titles that have been released over the years featuring a central character or theme. Pac-Man is here to provide “color commentary,” and Professor Pac-Man is on hand with interesting tidbits of trivia about each game!

1980
Pac-Man (a.k.a. Puck-Man)

From the Flyer: The player, using a single handle control guides the Pac-Man about the maze, scoring points by munching up the Dots in his path. Four Ghost Monsters – Inky, Blinky, Pinky and Clyde – chase after Pac-Man trying to capture and deflate him. The Pac-Man can counterattack by eating the big, Power Capsule that enables him to overpower the Monsters for additional score. After all the Dots are gobbled up, the screen is cleared, and Pac-Man continues for another round. Each rack features a special Fruit Target in the maze, which if eaten, earns Bonus Points. Players start with three Pac-Men. An additional Pac-Man is awarded for 10,000 points. Score Big on the Counterattack! Quick, eat the flashing Power Capsule. When the Pac-Man powers up, the Monsters start to run away. Points double for each Monster caught (200, 400, 800, 1600). Bonus Point Fruit Targets! The player is awarded extra Bonus Points for eating the Fruit Targets that appear in the maze (100, 300, 500). A sensational, full color video game for 1 or 2 players that tickles vision and challenges reflexes. Adding to the fun are musical refrains, chomping and action sounds along with amusing cartoon shows between racks.

Whoa! Who wrote that? "The Pac-Man"?!? It's a good thing I wasn't supervising that marketing project- someone would have been chomped! Wocka! Wocka!

From the desk of Professor Pac-Man: Pac-Man is listed in the Guinness World Records as the "most successful coin operated game" in history.

1981
Ms. Pac-Man

From the Flyer: A more challenging version of the well-known Pac-Man maze game, Ms. Pac-Man is sure to be the most popular girl in the game world. Pursued by the familiar Inky, Blinky, Pinky and the newest ghost, Sue, Ms. Pac-Man goes through 4 new and challenging mazes that increase in difficulty and offer varying side exit locations. Each of the 4 mazes has an additional 2 side exits that give Ms. Pac-Man a total of 4 ways out of the maze. Dots score 10 points each with Power Dots serving 50 points each. Points double for each ghost Ms. Pac-Man munches. 200 points for the first, 400 for the second and 800 and 1600 points consecutively for the third and fourth ghosts. When Ms. Pac-Man is caught herself, she dramatically swoons and falls. As in Pac-Man, bonus fruit symbols indicate how many times a player has cleared the screen of dots. Ms. Pac-Man boasts additional bonus fruit symbols that also float freely through the maze and have higher point values when gobbled. Along with a new sound package players may witness the touching love story of Ms. Pac-Man’s meeting Pac-Man himself, their courtship and marriage and even the delivery of Pac-Baby in the three act, between-maze cartoon series.

More challenging - sure, just because she wears a bow! In any case she's a force to be reckoned with, and I just love playing with Ms. Pac-Man! Wocka! Wocka!

From the desk of Professor Pac-Man: This game was an elaborate enhancement of Pac-Man created by a small company called General Computer Corporation. The game was originally called Crazy Otto when Bally Midway bought it and, after making some minor changes, changed the game into Ms. Pac-Man.

1982
Pac-Man Plus

From the Flyer: No Small Change For Pac-Man! The New Official Factory Authorized Enhancement Kit. The Only Legal Pac-Man Conversion Package. Creates an exciting New challenge for players … and more earnings for operators. Greater speed of Pac-Man and monsters. Disappearing maze features. Invisible monsters. A whole New game of surprises.

Talk about surprises! This is the game that introduced several new tasty treats and got me hooked on caffeine (thanks Coke). I guess that explains my extra burst of speed. Now I wonder if the disappearing ghosts and maze has anything to do with the margaritas? Wocka! Wocka!

From the desk of Professor Pac-Man: Pac-Man Plus was among the many sequels to Pac-Man created by Bally Midway that were not authorized by Namco, and ultimately led to the termination of the licensing agreement between Namco and Bally Midway.

Super Pac-Man

From the Flyer: Conquer the Fruit-Filled Maze! Play Super Pac-Man and find a super new Pac-Man challenge. Super Pac-Man mazes are made up of delectable fruits and goodies rather than white dots, and also contain 4 energy dots, giving Pac-Man the power to chomp down pursuing monsters, and 2 “Super” dots. When Pac-Man eats a “Super” dot he becomes … SUPER PAC-MAN! Now 10 times his normal size, Super Pac-Man is totally invincible to monsters and can crash through locked gates as he chomps down rows of fruits! Munch the Keys to Locked Gates! Each maze contains several locked gates that must be opened before Pac-Man, in regular Pac-form, can pass through. By eating the corresponding keys our hero is free to pass through the gates and devour the fruits or objects inside. Rack Up Big Bonus Points! Every third Super Pac-Man maze is a bonus rack. Pac-Man is in “Super” form throughout, racing the clock for Super Pac-Man scores! At random intervals, a star will flash. When Pac-Man eats the flashing star, he scores bonus points for special fruit/object combinations and matches! Super Speed for Super Pac-Man! Press Super Pac-Man’s super speed button on each side of the joystick and away he goes with an extra burst of speed. Once you push the Super Button you’ll be a Super Pac-Man lover forever!

I can't believe this guy got his own game! Would you believe that some people actually think that I, Pac-Man, and Super Pac-Man are one in the same? Like I would ever be caught chomped in a cape and tights. Wocka! Wocka!

From the desk of Professor Pac-Man: Super Pac-Man appeared in animated form during the second season of Hanna-Barbera's animated Pac-Man series on ABC Saturday Morning in 1982; Lorenzo Music provided the voice Super Pac-Man.


Mr. & Mrs. Pac-Man Pinball

From the Flyer: Tips on Playing Mr. & Mrs. Pac-Man Pinball: Qualify for the Pac-Maze by accumulating a minimum of 6 moves. Earn more Pac-Men, Spell P-A-C-M-A-N by hitting the stand-up targets behind the drop-targets. Earn Pac-Man “Aggressive” by hitting the top drop-target bank 3 times. Keep an eye on the playfield digital display for … a) Pac-Maze “time to beat”, b) Pac-Maze completions, c) Pac-Man moves you’ve earned. Proven Play Appeal: you can play video Pac-Man on the Pac-Maze via our new VID-GRID™ feature. All the moves and excitement of video in the middle of our pinball; a game within a game! When you’re ready to play the Pac-Maze VID-GRID™ the playfield darkens, the count-down begins and Pac-Man is ready to go … Remember! The left flipper button controls direction and the right flipper button controls movement. P.S. – A helpful hint … the saucer skill shot off the plunger is your fastest way to activate the Pac-Maze VID-GRID.™ You’ll get 10 moves and an Aggressive Pac-Man.

From the beginning the Mrs. and I were destined to chomp! Ridding Pac-Land of the Ghost Monsters was a daily ritual. It's amazing we ever found time for a family. Wocka! Wocka!

From the desk of Professor Pac-Man: The Pac Maze VID-GRID™ in the middle of the playfield acts as a pseudo video mode. Move the yellow dot (Pac-Man) to light up each space and avoid the red dot (a ghost). Pac-Man can eat the ghost if "Pac-Man Aggressive" is enabled.


Baby Pac-Man

From the Flyer: Watch Mr. and Mrs. Pac-Man beam with pride as our new Baby Pac-Man follows in his parents’ dot chomping footsteps. A great new video game that’s enhanced with a pinball feature! Begin on the ever popular Pac-Man Maze – filled with white dots, it contains none of the energizers needed to attack the monsters. Escape to the Pinball Playfield to earn important energizers 3 different ways, tunnel speed-up (right spinner target), and valuable fruits (left spinner target). Earn an Extra Baby by completing the center playfield arrows (3 different ways). Resume Video Action by hitting a qualified saucer or draining the ball. The game begins and ends on the Video Maze. 3 Baby-Pacs are awarded per player at the beginning of the game; play ends when the last Pac is eaten. A Winning Game … and beautifully packaged in an all-new video cabinet, Baby Pac-Man also contains a great hardware package.

Ahh, he's a regular chomp of the ol' block. He may be small but he packs quite a CHOMP! Besides, I taught him everything he knows! This little tike makes a Pac-Dad proud. Wocka! Wocka!

From the desk of Professor Pac-Man: Baby Pac-Man was the first video game/pinball hybrid produced by Bally Midway with the second being Granny and the Gators.

1983
Jr. Pac-Man

From the Flyer: Meet the New Video Kid on the Block … Jr. Pac-Man! The wait is over! The newest member of the popular Pac-Family is moving in … and he’s every bit as promising as his parents. In the tradition of Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man, Jr. Pac-Man has all the tried-and-true qualities that have made his family famous … plus a few to call his very own! A guy with a lot going for him … He may emote the same charisma as his famous folks … but with an extra special package of features, he represents a whole new video generation! Extra Style! Jr. Pac-Man offers 7 new mazes. With horizontal scrolling, they’re twice as wide as before! Extra Character! Jr. Pac-Man encounters Yum-Yum – the new baby ghost character – in three entertaining cartoon intermissions designed to captivate players between mazes. Extra Power! Jr. Pac-Man has an even heartier appetite than his parent predecessors. Power pellets are worth 10 points each. Rack indicators (similar to floating fruit in Ms. Pac-Man) move through the maze and convert pellets to 50 points each! If rack indicators get to energy dots before Jr. Pac-Man, they eliminate them.

Just to clear things up: Jr. Pac-Man is NOT Pac-Baby all grown up! This little terror on three wheels fell out of the sky one day and into our little Pac-Family. He chomps to a beat all his own, and in my opinion has been trying to steal all of the glory! A Pac running off with a Ghost Monster..... What next? Wocka! Wocka!

From the desk of Professor Pac-Man: Jr. Pac-Man was an enhancement kit for Ms. Pac-Man created for Bally Midway by General Computer Corporation. Despite the fact that Ms. Pac-Man was already an enhancement to Pac-Man, much of the original Pac-Man code is still present in Jr. Pac-Man.

Pac & Pal (a.k.a. Pac-Man & Chomp Chomp)

From the Flyer: In this sequel, Pac-Man unlocks doors by flipping over playing cards. Instead of power pills, Pac-Man takes on the powers of two special targets per round. Bonus rounds involve turning over as many cards as possible before finding the red monster. Pal, a friendly little monster, also tries to help Pac-Man collect his stuff from the other monsters. She has a tendency to get confused though, and has been known to give the items back to the ghosts.

Okay, where are the dots and what's with all these weird skills I acquired? I guess it's all a result of pellet deficiency or someone asleep at the switch at Namco. (Kevin, am I allowed to say that?) Personally, I prefer Chomp Chomp over the little monster, but hey a dog is a Pac's best friend. Wocka! Wocka!

From the desk of Professor Pac-Man: Pac & Pal was the first sequel to Pac-Man that was actually created by Namco and featured music during the normal game play. There was a second version of this title known as Pac-Man & Chomp Chomp. It featured Pac-Man's pet dog Chomp Chomp from the animated cartoon series.

Professor Pac-Man

From the Flyer: A new concept for video game play! Professor Pac-Man challenges its players to answer a variety of questions requiring thought and logic. What’s best – it’s FUN to learn from Professor Pac-Man! Professor Pac-Man is a brilliantly animated machine with players’ response producing an array of entertaining visual effects. And, the famous Pac-Man character provides both recognition and response! A uniquely challenging game for players of all ages, Professor Pac-Man presents puzzles and problems, questions and quips in a “quiz-show” type package. Two players make the game even more fun!

The Professor and Mary Ann here on... Wait a minute, wrong Professor. Now this Professor taught me when I was just a little Pac that any problem can be solved if you'll just put your mind to it. The Professor is wise far beyond his years and if his game flopped it just proves that the public wasn't up to the challenge. Wocka! Wocka!

From the desk of Professor Pac-Man: Bally Midway was planning software updates every three months to keep the questions changing. However, this game proved to be company's biggest flop ever. Only about 400 units were made and many of those were later converted into Pac-Land machines.

1984
Pac-Land

From the Flyer: Start packing! An old friend is about to take you on an incredible new journey! Soak in the scenery as Pac-Man hits the trail and takes you on a colorful tour of that vast video region known as Pac-Land! The fun-filled road to Fairyland may be exciting … but it’s also filled with its share of stumbling blocks. As Pac-Man’s personal guide, your duty is to see it he puts his best foot forward for a safe round-trip journey. Along the route, be prepared to evade attacking enemies … leap over logs … survive strategically placed pools … and steer our hero clear of other surprises! And just in case Pac-Man should work up a hearty appetite on the road, there’s always a supply of energy pellets to help keep up his strength and gobble inhospitable ghost monsters! Once he reaches his destination, Pac-Man will get the royal treatment in Fairyland where he’ll be presented with a pair of magic boots. They’re not only what the smart video traveler is wearing this year … they’ll come in handy for the flight home where yet another fantasy adventure is ready to begin!

Ready to step into my world? Are you Pac enough to handle it? It may look simple but danger lurks around every corner! In fact, the only thing simple about it is the expression on Inky's face. Wocka! Wocka!

From the desk of Professor Pac-Man: Pac-land was the first ever videogame-turned-cartoon-turned-videogame. The entire game, from the concept to the graphics and sound, was based on Hanna-Barbera's animated Pac-Man series on ABC.

1987
Pac-Mania

From the Flyer: Attention all Pac-Maniacs … I’m back and bouncing in 3-D! Back from a brief vacation in Tahiti, our little round friend returns to find the latest craze … Pac-Mania!!! He’s back in action … but with a new beat, BOUNCE power! Ready for a new generation of Pac-Man players, he can’t wait for the chance to show off his new aerial maneuvers to the crowd! The “boss” ghost Clyde has recruited the talents of two new ghosts, Sue and Funky! Pac-Man must utilize his speed and cunning to outwit these annoying creeps. Only by doing so can he get on with his favorite hobby … eating! A quick trip around the neighborhood is all it takes for Pac-Man to realize that there have been some changes made. Now there’s Block Town, Pac-Man’s Park, Sandbox Land and Jungly Steps. Armed with new BOUNCE power he is confident that food is a mere leap away. And if this is not enough, he also has SPECIAL ITEMS – special powers that award extra speed or double points! Though he has a real challenge ahead of himself, Pac-Man is glad to be back in action again. A new colorful 3-D playfield with some real snappy upbeat music reminds Pac-Man that Pac-Land is a pretty nice place to live!

It's amazing the older I get, and the more your technology improves, the better I look. The same goes for Ms. Pac-Man, not that there was much to improve on. Wocka! Wocka!

From the desk of Professor Pac-Man: Pac-Mania was the second sequel produced by Namco to the original Pac-Man and the first to take him into an isometric 3D environment. The stage 'Pac-Man Park' features the original Pac-Man maze in a new 3D perspective.

1996
Pac-Man VR

From the Flyer: "See the world through Pac-Man’s eyes." Pac-Man fever is spreading again with this new fully immersive 3D virtual reality game from Virtuality in which the player actually becomes Pac-Man himself. Through a licensing agreement with Namco, the creators of the original Pac-Man, Virtuality brings this fun packed game for Solo, Duo and Quattro Series 2000 SU systems. Retaining all of the original game play, Virtuality have enhanced this classic game by networking up to four Pac-Man characters together, enabling them to see, talk and compete with each in the same virtual maze whilst still trying to outwit the ghosts. Originally launched in 1980 by Namco, Pac-Man took over the world. Both young and old were afflicted with Pac-Man fever, as the cute little yellow character grew into a video game phenomenon. Now, for the first time ever you'll be able see the world through Pac-Man’s eyes, running around the maze, picking up pills and avoiding the ghosts.

I'm telling you those ghosts look a lot more menacing when they are three feet tall and standing right in front of you. It gives me pac-bumps just thinking about it. Wocka! Wocka!

From the desk of Professor Pac-Man: When introduced the game cost $5.00 USD for five minutes of play. Not very many of these games were produced due to their extreme cost rumored to be as high as $60,000 USD.

Beyond the Arcades

1993 - Pac-Attack
1994 - Pac-Man 2 – The New Adventures
1995 - Pac-In-Time
1999 - Pac-Man World (20th Anniversary)
2000 - Pac-Man: Adventures in Time
2000 - Ms. Pac-Man: Maze Madness
2001 - Ms. Pac-Man: Quest for the Golden Maze
2002 - Pac-Man World 2
2002 - Pac-Man All-Stars
2002 - Pac-Man Fever
2005 - Pac-Man Pinball Advance
2005 - Pac-Pix
2005 - Pac ‘n Roll
2005 - Pac-Man World 3 (25th Anniversary)
2006 - Pac-Man World Rally

Now that's what I call a true Pac-Attack! Wocka! Wocka!

* This article is only a listing of known unique game titles. It does not cover clones of released titles, nor will it list the various platforms the titles have appeared on. It is not meant to be an all-inclusive reference listing, and should be viewed only as the recreational offering it was intended to be. Game descriptions, game titles and registered trademarks mentioned herein are properties of their respective owners.

First Published November 2006