40th birthday for Pac-Man

The Citizen (KZN) - - Front Page -

Tokyo – Forty years ago, a new video game fea­tur­ing a bright yel­low, dot-chomp­ing, ghost-dodg­ing char­ac­ter called Pac-Man ap­peared in Tokyo. It would be­come the most suc­cess­ful ar­cade game of all time.

The hero – shaped like a mouth open­ing and clos­ing – races around a maze nois­ily gob­bling dots and oc­ca­sion­ally fruit for ex­tra points, all the while avoid­ing four cun­ning ghosts named Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde.

As ev­ery Pac-Man player knows, the great­est joy comes from turn­ing the ta­bles by munch­ing a power pel­let, send­ing the ghosts flee­ing in all di­rec­tions as they sud­denly be­come ed­i­ble them­selves.

The game was orig­i­nally called Puck-Man (an ono­matopoeic play on the Ja­panese word paku, mean­ing to gob­ble) but it was changed when it launched in the United States for fear gamers would in­evitably change the “P” to an “F”.

Game de­signer Toru Iwatani came up with the shape when he took a small slice from a pizza and re­alised the re­main­der looked like a wide-open mouth.

Pac-Man was aimed at women and cou­ples – a dif­fer­ent au­di­ence to the vi­o­lent alien shoot-em-ups pop­u­lar in Ja­panese ar­cades at the time, Iwatani ex­plained in a 2010 in­ter­view with Wired magazine.

The first edi­tion was placed in a cin­ema in the trendy Tokyo district of Shibuya.

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