Pac-man (Pac-Man) is a maze arcade game developed and released by Namco in 1980. The original Japanese title of Puck Man was changed to Pac-Man for international releases as a preventative measure against defacement of the arcade machines by changing the P to an F. The player controls Pacman, who must eat all the dots inside an enclosed maze while avoiding four colored ghosts. Eating large flashing dots called “energizers” causes the ghosts to turn blue, allowing Pacman to eat them for bonus points.
The development of the game was designed to appeal to women as well as men, because most video games of the time had themes of war or sports. The in-game characters were made to be cute and colorful to appeal to younger players as well.
Pacman was a widespread critical and commercial success, and it has an enduring commercial and cultural legacy. The game is considered important and influential, and it is commonly listed as one of the greatest video games of all time.
Pacman is a maze chase video game; the player controls the eponymous character through an enclosed maze. The objective of the game is to eat all of the dots placed in the maze while avoiding four colored ghosts — Blinky (red), Pinky (pink), Inky (cyan), and Clyde (orange) — that pursue him. When all of the dots are eaten, the player advances to the next level. If Pacman makes contact with a ghost, he will lose a life; the game ends when all lives are lost. Each of the four ghosts have their own unique, distinct artificial intelligence (A.I.), or “personalities”; Blinky gives direct chase to Pacman, Pinky and Inky try to position themselves in front of Pacman, usually by cornering him, and Clyde will switch between chasing Pacman and fleeing from him.
Placed at the four corners of the maze are large flashing “energizers”, or “power pellets”. Eating these will cause the ghosts to turn blue with a dizzied expression and reverse direction. Pacman can eat blue ghosts for bonus points; when eaten, their eyes make their way back to the center box in the maze, where the ghosts are “regenerated” and resume their normal activity. Eating multiple blue ghosts in succession increases their point value. After a certain amount of time, blue-colored ghosts will flash white before turning back into their normal, lethal form. Eating a certain number of dots in a level will cause a bonus item, usually in the form of a fruit, to appear underneath the center box, which can be eaten for bonus points.
The game increases in difficulty as the player progresses; the ghosts become faster and the energizers’ effect decreases in duration, to the point where the ghosts will no longer turn blue and edible. To the sides of the maze are two “warp tunnels”, which allow Pacman and the ghosts to travel to the opposite side of the screen. Ghosts become slower when entering and exiting these tunnels. Levels are indicated by the fruit icon at the bottom of the screen. In-between levels are short cutscenes featuring Pacman and Blinky in humorous, comical situations. The game becomes unplayable at the 256th level due to an integer overflow that affects the game’s memory.