Visual: Fixed / flip-screen
Interface: Direct control
Published by: Midway Mfg.
Developed by: Namco Limited
Platforms: Arcade Machine, Nintendo (NES)
The player's task is to control Pac-Man and eat all the dots in the maze, avoiding the ghosts that are chasing the hero. With an increase in the level of the game, only its complexity changes, the architecture of the labyrinth remains identical. There are a total of 256 levels in the game, the last of which cannot be completed due to an overflow error.
In the late 1970s, due to the success of Space Invaders, the video game market focused on the creation of arcade shooter-maps and attracted a purely male audience. Namco employee Toru Iwatani wanted to make a game that would appeal to everyone, especially girls, and chose food as the main theme of his work. In Japan, the created game was called Puck-Man, but when localized in the US, Midway changed the name to Pac-Man, believing that with the original name, children could paint over the middle of the letter "P", turning it into an "F", and make the word obscene.
Upon its release in Japan, the game was well received, but did not become popular. In America, the audience was impressed by the absence of a violent motive in the arcade, which attracted a female audience, among other things, and helped earn parental loyalty to the video game. All this ensured the popularity of Pac-Man among people of different ages and professions, generating increased interest in the game and making Pac-Man the first video game star. Such success inspired developers to create more diverse games, including those with a lack of violence.
The game screen occupies a labyrinth, the corridors of which are filled with dots. The player's task is to control Pac-Man and eat all the dots in the maze, avoiding the ghosts that are chasing the hero. At the beginning of each level, the ghosts are located in a rectangular room inaccessible to Pac-Man in the middle of the level, from which they are eventually released. If the ghost touches Pac-Man, then his life is lost, the ghosts and Pac-Man return to their original position, but the progress of the collected points is preserved. If Pac-Man has no extra lives left when he encounters a ghost, the game ends. After eating all the points, a new level begins in the same maze. On the sides of the maze are two entrances to one tunnel, upon entering which Pac-Man and the ghosts exit from the other side of the maze.
In total, there are 240 small dots and 4 large dots in the labyrinth, known as energizers. Eating a small dot is worth 10 points, and eating an energizer is worth 50. Thus, in total, all points in the maze are worth 2600 points. When Pac-Man eats an energizer in the early levels, the ghosts in the maze enter fright mode for a short time, abruptly change direction and turn blue. During this time, Pac-Man is able to eat the ghosts by running into them, which is safe. From the eaten ghost, only the eyes remain, which return to the center of the maze, where the ghost comes to life again and goes in pursuit of Pac-Man. For eating the first ghost after receiving the energizer, 200 points are given. For eating each next ghost under the effect of the same energizer, twice as much is given: 400, 800 and 1600, respectively. Thus, by eating all the ghosts after each energizer effect, the player can earn 12,000 points per level. However, at level 19, ghosts are no longer blue and can no longer be eaten.
In each level, bonuses called fruits appear in the area below the ghost zone twice per round. The first fruit appears after Pac-Man eats 70 points, the second - after eating 170. For eating a bonus, from 100 to 5000 points are given, depending on what level the player has reached. The bonus is on the screen for about 9 seconds, after which it disappears. Fruits eaten in the current and the last six levels completed are displayed under the maze at the bottom of the screen.
Up to level 21, Pac-Man's speed during normal movement is higher than the speed of ghosts, but from level 21, ghosts in chase mode move faster than the main character. Eating dots slows down Pac-Man by about 10% of his speed, which allows ghosts at all levels to catch up with the hero. After eating the energizer, while the ghosts are scared, Pac-Man's speed increases and the movement of the ghosts slows down. From level 5 to 20, Pac-Man already moves at maximum speed, and when he eats an energizer, he does not become faster. When the ghosts pass through the side tunnel, their speed is reduced by almost half.
Pac-man and the ghosts appear in three humorous animated cutscenes between levels, in the so-called intermission. They are added to the game as a reward for passing and in order to give the player a break.