Pac-Man Celebrates 35 Years

Today, a video game character celebrates 35 years. Pac-Man first arrived on the scene May 22, 1980 at arcades in Japan. The character got his start during the early days of arcade gaming, but his impact has remained legendary. He wasn’t the first video game character, but he inspired a generation of arcade gamers.

Pac-Man’s game plot

The game plot for Pac-Man involves navigating him through a labyrinth where he consumes pac-dot pellets. The goal is to get him through the entire maze and eat all the dots, sending him to the next stage. Between stages, there are mini games that pop up. In these games, four of his enemies chase him through the maze, and if one of the enemies catches Pac-Man, he dies. If all Pac-Man’s “lives” are lost, the game ends.

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The four enemies in the game are often referred to as ghosts or goblins. The characters come in different colors and have different nicknames. They’re known as Shadow (red), Speedy (pink), Bashful (blue) and Pokey (orange). One interesting fact about these characters in particular is that Pac-Man creator Toru Iwatani said he wanted to give each bad guy a completely different personality because he wanted to keep things interesting. Here are other notable facts in honor of the legendary pop culture icon.

His original name was Puck-Man, a moniker inspired by Paku, the Japanese word for “chomp.” The name was changed when some arcade operators became concerned with the name’s similarity to a taboo English word. Unlike many of the arcade games on the market at the time, Pac-Man was created specifically for girls. And not only that, but Bandai/Namco (the company behind the games) created Ms. Pac-Man as a way to expand the brand.

The Pac-Man arcade game machines were also the most successful on the market. In fact, the company behind the machines manufactured over 293,000 Pac-Man machines between the years of 1981 and 1987. By October 1980, the game maker had sold over 100,000 game units.