Happy 25th Birthday, Pac Man!

Hard to believe, but PacMan is 25 years old!

Geez…I feel old. Can remember slamming my quarters in there and all excited about getting to level two.

Read the attached link to see what gool 'ol Billy Mitchell’s score was!

“Wakka, wakka, wakka, my little yellow friend.”

More on Mr. Mitchell: The game screen gets all jumbled after 255 levels. The programmers never thought anyone would play father than that, and 255 is the limit of some computer thing (I’m sure someone else can elaborate). Mitchell had to clear every maze while eating each bonus fruit that pops up (two in each maze) and eat all four ghosts whenever he ate a power pellet (there are four pellets, so he had to eat 16 ghots for each maze.) Based on the fact that there are 240 dots and four power pellets in each maze, a quick calculation shows that Mitchell (and Pac-Man) ate:

61,200 dots
4,080 ghosts
1,020 power pellets
510 fruits

That’s quite an achievement. How does the Man pac it all in? (Sorry for the pun.)

Happy birthday, Mr. Pac. May you never get the indigestion.

Three Pac-Man Urban Legends for his Twenty-Fifth Birthday:

  1. Pac-Man’s creator, Toru Iwatani, was inspired to make Pac-Man a round figure after eating a pizza. Most likely false. Although the familiar shape does look like a pizza with a slice missing, Iwatani is quoted as saying in Chris Kohler’s Power-Up that the story is untrue and it has been told so many times, he almost wishes it did happen (but then again, Carson said the same thing about Zsa Zsa and the cat. Doesn’t have anything to do with Pac-Man, but they both wish they happened).

  2. A pissed-off Iwatani-san left Namco after he was given only a paltry sum as a reward for creating the most famous video game of all time (or at least a number two after Tetris). False. Japanese companies compensate differently that American ones- Iwatani was paid a small sum, but was also promoted to head of R&D as a sign of respect.

  3. Millions of unsold Atari 2600 Pac-Man cartridges were thrown in a landfill in New Mexico. True. Stuck with a one-two punch of crap in the form of tons of unsold Pac-Man and E.T. games (the former was rushed since the designer got the same amount of dough no matter how early or late the game was put out, the latter was rushed to get it out by Christmastime), Atari had nothing else to do but dump the games. This, among other things, led to the decline of Atari and the death of the home video game. From then on, even thinking about making a new video game system made people think you were crazy. By 1986, a little company called Nintendo would prove them wrong. But that’s another story…

It wouldn’t have been this many ghosts eaten, though. For many (if not all) of the levels from the 9th key afterward, the ghosts did not turn blue and thus could not have been eaten. If this were the case, the player would amass over 3,000,000 points just from the ghosts alone (200+400+800+1600)4255. A “perfect score” would be much larger than this.

You’re right about the ghosts. I had forgotten. One of the interesting things is that President Reagan wrote a letter to a small boy congratulating him on his Pac-Man high score. The score in the letter was higher than the score Mitchell achieved. Mitchell wonders if there is a way to play past the 255th level, or if the boy was lying.

The corrected ghost number should be 320, since there are 20 levels in which the ghosts can be eaten (Cherry, Strawberry, Peach 1 and 2, Apple 1 and 2, Grape 1 and 2, Galaxian Spaceship 1 and 2, Bell 1 and 2, Key 1-8).