Did you know that Pac-Man was created to get girls into arcade games? That’s right!
Because teenage girls were viewed as a potential magnet for male customers, the game itself was designed around one thing that girls wanted to do. Shopping, flowing their boyfriends and eating deserts. It might sound as a conspiracy theory, but this comes from Toru Iwatani himself, the designer who created Pac-Man. In addition to the non-violent nature of the game, the character resembles a pie (or sometimes a pizza) with a slice cut off. Coincidence? I think not.
Pac-Man and the ladies
He really thought that he could make the game more appealing to the female population. I don’t really know about you, but the strategy did work for me. I vividly remember spending my pocket money on arcade games, and Pac-Man was the game I really enjoyed playing.
Not to mention, that my mom approved it, unlike the other more violent games that were available in the early ’90s. Think Mortal Kombat, Tekken, and plenty of other fighting games. Later on, Ms. Pac-Man solidified that notion, but for now, we’re solely focusing on him.
However, the upcoming 40th anniversary of the release of Pac-Man is coming up soon. And topped with the fact that we have plenty of Pac-Man games on sale here at IndieGala… We thought it’s good to revisit the actual game.
Pac-Man and the maze craze
However, before we do that, let’s take step back and reflect on a specific genre that’s as old as the game itself: the maze game. We could go back to the mythical Greek Labyrinth and the Minotaur legend, but that’s a bit too far in the past. First used by journalists in the early ’80s to describe any game in which the entire playing field is a maze. The maze game also requires quick player action. In order to escape all sorts of monsters and of course to navigate through the maze. After the release of Pac-Man, plenty of other games followed this style, but Pac-Man remains the best-known example.
Simplicity is the key
Certainly, the technological aspect of the game is evident, but the gameplay and the character itself are very simple as well. For instance, the original Pac-Man game was only 24 kilobytes. Which compared with the technology of today is similar to a regular photo on the internet. And according to Tech Times, the game is very popular among the young coding enthusiasts.
Furthermore, the simplicity of the game also applies to the gameplay itself. Just think about it. The player controls Pac-Man through an enclosed maze. You need to eat all the dots that are in the maze while avoiding the ghosts that are there to haunt you. There are four different ghosts, with four different colors. Red, pink, cyan, and orange. And that’s about it. Pac-Man in a nutshell.
There’s a universal appeal to the game as well, that transcends languages and borders. Think about it. A person in South Africa can easily understand and play the game as a person in Japan. And you can easily catch up with the gameplay even if you haven’t played it before. It’s easy, intuitive and everyone can play it.
Nostalgia and merchandise
But that applies also to the design of the character as well. Pac-Man is a yellow circle with a large mouth. And nearly 40 years after the release, the character is ingrained in our pop culture. It’s easily recognizable for sure. And for generations of kids that grew up with the yellow man, it’s a source of warmth and nostalgia. There are countless games, TV series, songs devoted to the video game character.
And of course, the character made appearances in various TV shows and cartoons. He appeared in The Simpsons, Futurama, South Park, Tron, and even Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
Which brings me to…
Pac-Man and the movies
Pac-Man and movies haven’t had the best working relationship. The ghosts from Pac-Man made a short appearance in the animated movie Wreck-It Ralph. However, the man itself was heavily featured in the 2015 comedy Pixels.
Directed by everyone’s favorite Chris Columbus, and starring Adam Sandler, Pixels was a financial success. Furthermore, it was based on 2010 animated short and not only featured Pac-Man but also several other arcade video games. For instance Space Invaders, Galaga, Frogger, and Donkey Kong.
But despite achieving success at the box office, the film was a critical flop. It was even nominated for a Golden Raspberry award, and the critics were not kind towards the film.
However, there’s a much older movie that really nobody really knows about. And not only had Pac-Man in it, but it was all about the 80’s obsession with arcade games. Joysticks. You’ve never even heard of it, have you? It came out in 1983 and although it’s not the best movie, I feel that it deserves to be mentioned here.
The brand awareness is strong
Since the release of the video game back in 1980, Pac-Man became one of the most recognizable characters of all times. It seems like in the past 40 years, he became a pop culture icon. And according to some studies, he has the highest brand recognition of all video games.
Even more than Super Mario. There are breakfast cereals, bedspread, and even apparel with the Pac-Man logo on it. So, it’s safe to say that the little yellow man is here to stay and won’t go away (any time soon).
Did you enjoy playing Pac-Man? And what are your thoughts about the movies that feature him? Movies like Pixels and Wreck-It Ralph. Tell us in the comments section. We’d love to know about all about it.