Pac Man

Inspired by a pizza at a dinner party, and originally designed to appeal to girls, it’s been played over 10 billion times and generated over $100m in revenues, and been voted the greatest game of all time in the UK.

Based on such a simple concept but with profoundly complex gameplay – so simple that its code footprint is small enough to render the game perfectly in Shockwave Fash and Java applets for mobile phones. This very simplicity makes this game (like so many retro favourites) so playable on mobile: perfect for those intermittent bits of dead-time when travelling the tubes, trains and buses. Made even more playable given the fact that this game only requires you to use the directional keypad.

Celebrating it’s 25th birthday this year, and destined to be around for another 25 I’m sure – this game is, of course, Pac Man.

Since I am a die-hard fan of Pac Man, and not least because I am currently holding the number 2 spot in the UK high-score leaderboard for the official mobile phone version of the game (I bet you never thought I was that way inclined did you?) , I was invited along by Namco to the finals of the European Pac Man tournament held at Namco Station in Central London yesterday.

It was an extremely interesting spectacle of an event – and attracted a lot of attention from the media who were present in some force – including the BBC who covered the event here (video). The UK champion took second place to the champ from Netherlands, who (lucky bloke) took away an original version of the arcade machine.

Pac Man – the original arcade classic still going strong
(Machine used at the finals of the European Pac Man tournament in London)

I got to play on this machine too – and you just can’t even begin to appreciate how much of adrenaline rush you get when immersed in the game. And the sounds; the sounds, what can I say – there’s nothing else that can evoke such memories of a misspent youth playing this game in city centre arcades and students union bars.

Interesting snippet: the game was originally called “Puck Man” by its Japanese inventor – but the name was changed by an American distribution-company executive who figured that that original name could be very straightforwardly “vandalised” by players in games rooms to say something a little, erm – uncouth.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *