Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Ghosts of Christmas Pac

Via my friend Lapsed Cannibal, an interesting article on Ghost Behavior in Pac-Man.

If you've played Pac-Man a fair bit (I haven't) then you already know the ghosts each have a unique personality. This article explains exactly how they "think". The fact that they behave in predetermined ways is what makes it possible for a very few people to play the game well past the point where the "power pills" essentially stop working - because as the human player you can predict what they will do; even though they're faster than you, and can kill your Pac-Man with a touch, they are somewhat predictable.

Did you know...

...The game was called Puck-Man in Japan, but the title was changed to Pac-Man when the game came to the U.S.... due to fears that American children would vandalize the "P" in Puck, into an "F".

...Toru Iwatani was inspired to create the game when he took the first slice from a pizza, and saw the now-iconic "circle with a wedge shaped mouth" shape (Iwatani-san has since admitted this story is a bit of a fabrication.)

...The total number of Pac-Man cabinets installed worldwide since 1980: 293,822 (a Guiness World Record, awarded to Iwatani-san this year.)

... Iwatani-san never received any special compensation for creating Pac-Man, a game that has earned untold billions over the last 30 years. He merely received his normal salary.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good bite.

UPDATE: My friend Sam just sent me another interesting link about Mr. Pac, with two tidbits I did not know: There was originally to be a "shelter" that would move up and down, and would partially squash a ghost if it squeezed him; and the president of Namco originally ordered that all the ghosts should be red, to head off potential player confusion. Luckily, Mr. Iwatani stood his ground and the game is more colorful for it.

Here's to 30 more years....

More information at Wikipedia

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