The Quick 10: Pac-Man Turns 30!
I spent a lot of time playing Ms. Pac Man and Frogger at Skateland when I was growing up. I wasn't much of a roller skater, you see, so when the other kids were busy doing the limbo and holding hands through the Moonlight Couples Skates , I was jamming quarters into the arcade games. So it is with fond memories that I give you today's Quick 10 honoring Pac-Man's birthday.
1. Pac-Man was "born" on March 22, 1980, invented by a game designer who was just 26 years old at the time. He based Pac-Man on the Japanese character for "mouth." He once said he spotted a pizza with one slice missing and was inspired but later came clean that there was more to the story.
2. When our little yellow friend made his debut in Japan, his name was "Puckman," which makes sense based on his shape. But you can imagine that many giddy teenagers found the one-letter difference between "Puck" and a popular swear word just too irresistible, so the name was changed when the game was released worldwide.
3. You might already know that Pac-Man's enemies go by Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde, but you may not know that those are just nicknames. According to the North American Pac Man title screen, Blinky is a nickname for "Shadow," Pinky is a nickname for "Speedy," Inky is short for "Bashful" and Clyde is really named "Pokey." In the Japanese version, you've got Urchin, Romp, Stylist and Crybaby, whose respective nicknames are Macky, Micky, Mucky and Mocky.
4. You can also call them monsters or ghosts and be accurate "“ different versions of the games refer to them as different things. The TV series based on the game decided to cover all of their bases and call them "ghost monsters."
5. Forget Pac-Man"¦ I want to try Pac-Manhattan. In 2004, a bunch of NYU grad students in the Interactive Telecommunications program invented a live-action version of the game that takes places on the streets of NYC, using WiFi and other technology.
6. So far, only six people have ever achieved perfect scores at Pac-Man "“ beating all 255 levels with just one Pac-Man while eating every possible dot, fruit and monster. The most recent was in 2009 when David Race of Beavercreak, Ohio, defeated it in a new world record for time "“ three hours, 41 minutes and 22 seconds.
7. Pac-Man has the distinction of being just one of three video games on display at the Smithsonian. The other two are Pong and Dragon's Lair. I bet Mario claims a spot at the museum someday, don't you?
8. Although NGC 281 was discovered in 1883, long before Pac-Man entered our lives, it's now known as the Pacman Nebula based on its resemblance to the beloved video game character. You can see it from an amateur telescope in dark sky locations.
9. Ever wonder how people seem to master the game so easily? Well, it's actually pretty simple - the monsters (or ghosts, depending on your preference) don't move randomly. They move in very specific patterns which repeat themselves, so once you've figured that out, it's simple. There are also spots in the game where Pac-Man can sit indefinitely without being detected by ghosts, so that's helpful for fingers that need a break.