Developer: Namco
Publisher: Namco/Bally Midway
Series: Pac-Man series
Genres: Maze
Release date(s): Flagofjapansmall May 22, 1980
Northamericaflagsmall October 26, 1980
Arcade system Namco Pac-Man
Number of players One or two players
Input methods 4 way joystick

side of the photo

Pac-Man (originally known as Puck Man in Japan) is the initial game in the Pac-Man series. It was first created by Toru Iwatani and released by Namco/Midway. Released in 1980, the game would go on to become a cultural icon worldwide.


Pacman traditional 1280x1024

Original American artwork.

Pac-Man is an arcade game created by Toru Iwatani and released by Namco in May 22, 1980 under the name "Puck Man". The name of the game was later changed to "Pac-Man" due to vandalism of the "P" in "Puck" into an offensive word. The game wasn't intended to be too popular at first, but when released, the game was a huge success. This resulted in many sequels of the game, including Ms. Pac-Man. The game has been cloned innumerable times, and re-released in many compilations.


The player controls a circular character which has a pie wedge shaped mouth to eat pellets through a maze, eating Pac-Dots. When all dots are eaten, Pac-Man is taken to the next stage. Four ghosts, Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde roam the maze, trying to catch Pac-Man. If a ghost chomps (touches) Pac-Man, a life is lost. When all lives have been lost, the game ends. Pac-Man is awarded a single bonus life at 10,000 points by default–DIP switches inside the machine can change the required points or disable the bonus life altogether.

Near the corners of the maze are four larger, flashing dots known as Power Pellets, provide Pac-Man with the temporary ability to eat the ghosts. The ghosts turn deep blue, reverse direction, and move slower when Pac-Man eats one. When a ghost is eaten, its eyes return to the ghost home where it is regenerated in its normal color. Blue ghosts flash white before they become dangerous again and the amount of time the ghosts remain vulnerable varies from one round to the next, but the time period generally becomes shorter as the game progresses. In later stages, the ghosts don't change colors at all, but still reverse direction when a power pellet is eaten.

In addition to Pac-Dots and Power Pellets, bonus items, usually referred to as fruits (though not all items are fruits) appear near the center of the maze. These items score extra bonus points when eaten. The items change and bonus values increase throughout the game. Sometimes, items can appear several times. Also, a series of intermissions play after certain levels toward the beginning of the game, showing a humorous set of interactions (the first being after level 2, which has a giant Pac-Man chasing a blue Blinky) between Pac-Man and Blinky. Intermissions: #1: Giant Pac-Man vs Blue Blinky. #2: Blinky chases Pac-Man, but gets cut on a white stick. #3: Number 3 has Blinky, whose wound has been repaired, chase Pac-Man, but his entire slime (body) falls off! Intermission 3 is used as all other intermissions after.

The original maze.

Scoring System

Namco Museum DS - Pac-Man arcade instruction card (Japan)

Original arcade Japanese instruction card


The four ghosts, formerly known as "monsters", are the enemies in the original arcade game. They cycle through different "modes" of behavior, colloquially known as "scatter"–where they retreat to the four corners of the maze–and "chase"–where their A.I. kicks in. Each ghost has unique A.I., programmed so that the game would not get impossibly difficult or boring. There are certain one-way areas on the maze–namely, the two "T" formations located directly above and below the Ghost Home (the box in the center of the stage)–that the ghosts can travel down through, but can't go up through. There are also two entrances to a tunnel on either side of the maze that Pac-Man can travel through and come out the opposite side of the screen on, which will slow the ghosts down if they enter it. Yet another advantage Pac-Man has over the quartet is that he can turn slightly faster. Once each ghosts' mannerisms are fully learned, they can be easily manipulated by the player to get a very high score. Here is a breakdown of each ghosts' behavior when in chase mode, generally speaking:

  • the red ghost, Blinky, doggedly pursues Pac-Man;
  • the pink ghost, Pinky, tries to ambush Pac-Man by moving parallel to him;
  • the cyan ghost, Inky, tends not to chase Pac-Man directly unless Blinky is near;
  • the orange ghost, Clyde, pursues Pac-Man when far from him, but usually wanders away when he gets close.

Here is a set of all of the ghosts' character names (hinting at their behavior), and nicknames. (The alternate names for Puck Man are triggered through a DIP switch.)

Color Puck Man Pac-Man
Character Nickname Alternate
Character Nickname
Red Oikake Akabei Urchin Macky Shadow Blinky
Pink Machibuse Pinky Romp Micky Speedy Pinky
Cyan Kimagure Aosuke Stylist Mucky Bashful Inky
Orange Otoboke Guzuta Crybaby Mocky Pokey Clyde

Split-screen level

PACMAN lastLevel 01

When the player gets to the 256th level, the right side of the maze becomes a garbled mess of code, therefore making the level impossible. The right side has some Pac-Dots too, but only 9. The right side of the screen also traps the ghosts and can make Pac-Man go off the screen. The left side of the maze remains fine though. If one uses a hack to skip the level, then the game goes back to the first level. Because of this bug, a perfect game only counts the first 255 levels. This is more commonly known as a kill screen.

Home consoles

Pac-Man first appeared on home consoles in 1981. The game has been released for the following systems and devices.

1981 - Atari 2600, Atari 800

1982 – Atari 5200, Atari 8-bit

1983 – Apple II, Intellivision

1984 – Nintendo Entertainment System, MSX

1990 – Game Boy

1991 – Game Gear

1999 – Neo Geo Pocket Color, Game Boy Color

2003 – Mobile

2006 – Xbox Live Arcade, iPod Classic

2007 – Virtual Console (Nintendo Wii /online store4past systems)

2010 – Windows Phone 7

2011 - iPhone/iPad

2013 - Wii U

2016 - PlayStation 4, Xbox One

In other games

As well as being included in several compilations, the first Pac-Man is also featured in some newer games in the series. The following Pac-Man games contain the original arcade version.

Namco Museum port

This version of the game, introduced in Namco Museum Volume 1 (1995), is notable for being perhaps the most frequently rereleased "official" version of Pac-Man from 1995 to 2005. Being based off the original's source code, it is mostly faithful to the arcade version, but a few things were altered in gameplay. Whether these changes were intentional or not has yet to be addressed.

  • Pinky always aims exactly four spaces in front of Pac-Man when in chase mode (in the original, this became four spaces up and four spaces to the left when Pac-Man was facing up, due to an overflow bug).
  • Inky's behavior has been considerably altered; he exclusively aims for Blinky's position in chase mode.
  • The ghosts' eyes will not travel up through the one-way paths when returning to regenerate.
  • When a ghost is sent back to the Ghost Home to regenerate, they will always come back out instantly, even if Pac-Man lost a life on the current round. (Incidentally, this fixes a glitch that can occur in the original wherein Pac-Man can trap Pinky, Inky, and Clyde in the Ghost Home.)
  • Ghosts will exit the Ghost Home to the right if their target position happens to be there (in the original, they will never exit to the right unless the behavior mode changes while they are in the Ghost Home).
  • If a bonus fruit appears and Pac-Man eats a ghost, the timer that controls how long the fruit stays onscreen halts with everything else. This makes it impossible for fruit to disappear while Pac-Man is eating a ghost.

There were also a few cosmetic changes:

  • In most home console versions of this port, a digital screen border based off of the original Puck Man bezel artwork (albeit with a shorter nose) is placed on the left and right sides of the gameplay screen to occupy the unused space.
  • All Midway copyright information was removed from the introduction screen and replaced with Namco copyright information.
  • The ghosts' character traits on the introduction screen now feature multiple hyphens after the word instead of a single one before. This is consistent with the original Japanese version of the game.

This version of Pac-Man was featured in the following games after its initial release:

  • Namco Museum 64 - 1999
  • Pac-Man World - 1999
  • Namco Museum (Dreamcast) - 2000
  • Pac-Man Collection - 2001
  • Namco Museum (PS2, GameCube, Xbox) - 2001
  • Pac-Man World 2 - 2002
    • In the GameCube version, the background sound effect does not change as the player gets closer to finishing the maze.
  • Pac-Man World 3 - 2005
    • In this version, the introduction screen is laid out more like the original US release, with a single hyphen before the ghosts' "character" name.
    • Pac-Dots do not slow Pac-Man down.

Most versions of Pac-Man after 2005 are completely accurate recreations of the arcade version rather than ports (with references to Midway removed); as such, the ghosts all behave as they originally did, and any patterns applicable to the original version will work on these. The Namco Museum 50th Anniversary and Xbox Live Arcade versions were among of the first of them. The latter featured an updated screen border with artwork based on Pac-Man World instead of the original Puck Man, with Pac-Man performing similar actions to the original Puck Man design.


  • Pac-Man is a very popular video game, thus it appears in many television shows such as iCarly appearing as "Pak-Rat", Square One TV as "Mathman", and Tiny Toon Adventures as "Plane-Man". The game itself has appeared in shows such as Family Guy, The Simpsons, Mad and Robot Chicken.
  • The game has inspired many unofficial clones and remakes. Both amateurs and commerical game designers have created unauthorised Pac-Man games and even characters named Pac-Man.
  • The original design for the American Pac-Man characters were rather deformed looking and very different from the characters seen today. The original design had no arms or hands - they were launched in the United States but were replaced shortly after the launch-date.
  • There is a game, 3-Demon, which is obviously a rip off of Pac-Man, where the player eats dots and a power pellet turns all the ghosts (who are red) green.
  • In Jak 3, Daxter gets teleported to the Matrix where he is in a Pac-Man styled game.
Google Pac-man

Google's Pac-Man game as their logo to celebrate Pac-Man's 30th anniversary.

  • For the game's 30th anniversary, Google briefly updated their homepage on May 21, 2010 for 48 hours to allow players to play a version of Pac-Man in a maze based off of the Google Logo. This version plays exactly like the original (including Ghost A.I.), but with the following differences:
    • If "Insert Coin" is clicked after the game has started, the Ms. Pac-Man theme plays and two players may then play cooperatively as Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man. The two play exactly the same except for sound effects made when munching dots.
    • The maze, as aforementioned, is derived from the Google logo, and it is no longer symmetrical.
    • There are five power pellets instead of four.
  • The Google version of Pac-Man has been made permanently available here.
  • Toru Iwatani states in a Yahoo Article , that the ghosts were all almost the same color, red. All the ghosts were red in Pac-Man's appearance in Futrama however. Toru refused the order and on questionnaires to the game testers asking if they would want a single-colored ghost instead of one, none wanted a single-color.

The picture of Mimas's daytime temperatures.

  • A pattern in a Saturn moon called Mimas's daytime temperatures takes the shape of Pac-Man in a NASA picture.
  • In Hungama (an Indian television channel), there is a game called Hungamaze in which Hungaman is Pac-Man and the Villains are Ghosts.
  • There is a rare glitch where Pac-Man can surprisingly go through ghosts.
  • Pac-Man, Pac-Man Plus, and Pac-Man Arrangement are the only games in the series to formally feature the ghosts' "character" names.
  • The Namco Classic Collection Vol. 2 version of Pac-Man featured a mix of the Puck Man alternate character names and the Pac-Man nicknames as the new default for international audiences. This is the only version of the game to do so, as any other versions either port over the Pac-Man or Puck Man default names (for worldwide and Japan, respectively).
  • The Xbox Live Arcade version of Pac-Man features an arcade cabinet in the background of its title screen. It is quite clearly based off of the Puck Man cabinet, but taking a closer look at it will show that all instances of "Puck Man" are replaced with "Pac-Man", and all of the art of Pac-Man on the cabinet has a shorter nose (not unlike the Namco Museum screen border).


External links