The arcade version of Pac-man had a highest possible score of 3,333,360 which was achieved for the first time by Billy Mitchell on July 4th, 1999 in Weirs Beach, New Hampshire. Billy is a native of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

The highest high score can only be achieved by eating EVERY fruit and EVERY blue ghost on every one of the 256 levels in addition to every dot and energizer. Without losing a life.

He arrived July 1st, with the sole purpose to beat the Canadians to the highest high score. He refused to eat until he had won. "I had to be the first," Mitchell explains. "It's like Neil Armstrong walking on the moon. No matter how many people who accomplish it afterwards, it will always be Armstrong who will be remembered for doing it first. And best of all, it was an American."

A few months before, Rick Fothergill of Hamilton, Ontario fell just 90 points short of the highest possible score.

Mitchell also holds the world record on the classic Donkey Kong game (as of July 4th, 1999).

information derived from Twin Galaxies Official Video Game and Pinball Book of World Records.

A board game created by Milton Bradley in 1980 and based on the video game of the same name.

The board game version of Pac-Man was a faithful reproduction of the video game in cardboard and plastic. Designed to be easy to learn and play in order to appeal to a similar target audience as the original video game, but never having the entertainment value of its ancestor, this remains a worthy addition to any collection, mainly because of its nostalgia value.

The board game features ghosts, food to pick up in the form of white and yellow marbles (yellow marbles are 'ghost eaters') and portals to move from one side of the board to another with just one move.

It differs in just one respect: the introduction of dice. This turns it from a game of skill and strategy into a game of skill, strategy, and a fair slice of chance.

One of the most innovative features of the Pac-Man board game is the players' pieces. They are real-life replicas of Pac-Man himself, which open their mouths as they are pushed along the board and take the marbles up into their bellies through a hole in the bottom. Unfortunately, they had a tendency to jam, and the marbles did not simply disappear into Pac-Man as they had in the video game (a glaring design flaw).

Milton Bradley also produced a Ms. Pac-Man game.

Personally, I found this game quite dull, but I enjoy playing it on occasions for the nostalgia value. You should buy it either for that, or to prove how much of a geek you are.

Sources (these were useless):

The History of Pac-Man

NOTE: This is a comprehensive history on the origin and life of Pac-Man, the video game. I will only cover the video game itself, and stay away from the many other media facets that Pac-Man made his way into.

In The Beginning...

Pac-Man was the brain child of Namco game designer Tohru Iwatani. While dining out with his friends, Iwatani ate a slice of pizza, and glanced down at the partially whole pizza pie left on the table. Noticing the shape, Iwatani immediately thought of a simple game idea involving a character shaped just like the pizza sitting in front of him.

And so, in 1980, Pac-Man was born. Originally called Puck-Man, the name was changed before the game was released in the United States, due to the obvious chance of Puck-Man being defamed into Fuck-Man. The game was released in arcades across the country, and in 1981 was ported to home entertainment systems, namely the Atari 2600.

Unfortunately, Namco virtually destroyed the game during porting. The characteristics of the arcade version were missing, and gameplay was also changed slightly. Gamers across the globe were angry that the home version was not up to par, though it still sold over 400,000 copies by the end of 1981.

The Pac-Man Craze

Namco quickly established Pac-Man as an identity in the entertainment industry, and it showed. Pac-Man had his rotund face on tons of merchandise, but most importantly, the success of Pac-Man spawned over a dozen spin-offs. Below I have listed every Pac-Man related game released since 1981, in chronological order:

Atari 2600
The first console version of Pac-Man, the game met the public harshly, due to major revisions to the game during the porting from the arcade version to cartridge. Despite the poor port, the game sold very well.

Pac-Man Plus
The next version of Pac-Man to hit arcades, Pac-Man Plus was basically the same game, with random effects thrown in. Invisible levels, traps, and other effects made the game much more difficult, which did not increase the fun level, unfortunately.

Ms. Pac-Man
Pac-Man's female counterpart, Ms. Pac-Man was more of the same, and actually quickly became more popular with gamers than the original. No major changes were introduced to the gameplay, other than fruit that moved along the inside of each maze. Ms. Pac-Man is one of the most plentiful arcade games in the world.

Ms. Pac-Man
Atari 2600
Another port to the Atari 2600, Ms. Pac-Man fared little better than the original port. Improved hardware in the Atari 2600 lended to a cleaner look, but gameplay, sound and the overall feel of the game was still lacking.

Atari 5200
With the improved hardware of the Atari 5200, the latest release of Pac-Man made the game much more playable and much more enjoyable. Unfortunately, people who wanted to play the best home version needed to purchase a new Atari 5200, which was released five years after the Atari 2600.

Super Pac-Man
The first major improvement in gameplay came during the release of Super Pac-Man. No longer restricted to eating bland pellets, Pac-Man was able to eat fruits and other junk food, and the game also introduced doors and keys. By eating a key, Pac-Man could munch his way through the appropriate colored door and advance to a different section of each maze. Perhaps the most fun improvement was the "super pellet," which tripled Pac-Man's size and made him invincible, able to glide through ghosts and doors with ease.

Pac and Pal
Probably the least popular adaptation of Pac-Man, Pac and Pal featured the gobbling yellow gaming star with a new friend, a green ghost (named "Ichi" in the Japanese versions). Ichi helped Pac-Man through each level by giving Pac-Man items that he obtained by moving around the level. Several other "innovations" were made, such a short-range weapons for Pac-Man to use, and the inclusion of doors again.

Professor Pac-Man
Simply another excuse to use the Pac-Man license, Bally Midway released this monstrosity. A quiz game that was based on points, Professor Pac-Man did nothing to improve the original game, and was therefore shunned by gamers. Only 400 of this unit were produced.

Junior Pac-Man
After two disasters, the next Pac-Man game returned to basics. Junior Pac-Man gave players the old-school Pac-Man style, with several improvements: scrolling levels, which allowed for much bigger mazes and more pellets (which meant more points), and the inclusion of higher level pellets, which were worth more points when touched by a bouncing bonus item.

Ms. Pac-Man
Atari 5200
Again, with the improved hardware of the Atari 5200, the new version of Ms. Pac-Man for the home entertainment crowd was definitely a step in the right directions. Better graphics, smoother gameplay and better sound made this game a commercial success for Namco.

Junior Pac-Man
Atari 2600
A port of the arcade version, this was by far the best home port of any Pac-Man game. It had all the same features of the arcade version, and gameplay was the best it had been for a home console system. Commercially, however, Junior Pac-Man did not do well, and after the release of this game, the decline of Pac-Man games began.

One of the first side-scrolling adventure games, Pac-Land was a horrible, horrible creation. Boring, predictable levels, repetitive gameplay and ugly graphics helped carry this mistake to the bottom of the arcade pack. This was the last Pac-Man game to be released until 1988, four years later.

Arcade, Sega Genesis
An isometric point-of-view was the unique addition to this game, which was otherwise a flop. Difficult camera angles made manuvering difficult, and the jumping that was added to both Pac-Man and the ghosts made for frustrating deaths entirely too often. All in all, the gameplay remained simplistic, but the new additions made the game much less fun than previous versions.

Nintendo Entertainment System
Another port of the classic game, Pac-Man was better than ever, with gameplay, graphics and sound equal to the arcade quality. However, competing with games like Super Mario, Duckhunt, Metroid and other future classics made Pac-Man a has-been.

Pac-Attack (aka Pac-Panic)
Super Nintendo, Genesis, Game Gear, Game Boy
Pac-Man was dipping into other genres to succeed in the 1990's. Pac-Attack was a Tetris variant, and a pretty fun one at that. By dropping Pac-Man blocks onto ghosts, you could eat the ghosts, which were otherwise immovable from the game board. A fun game, it still was not popular with gamers as much as the original Tetris.

Pac-Man 2: The New Adventures
Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis
I purchased this game, excited for a new action/adventure game that used the Super Nintendo's graphics and sound capabilities. I made a mistake. This game was plauged by a gameplay system that gave you no direct control over Pac-Man, though it did have an interesting plot. You had a slingshot, which you could fire at him or his environment to force him to interact with it. A novel, new idea, but one that did not make for a fun, exciting game.

Super Nintendo, Genesis, Game Boy
This was the game I wished I had bought. Pac-in-Time was another side scrolling adventure game, but this time, the control was over the main character, and it was good. By eating pellets, you could advance through levels. It reminded me of a cross between Pac-Man and Sonic the Hedgehog. A very fun game.

Pac-Man/Ms. Pac-Man
Nintendo Game Boy Color, PlayStation, Nintendo 64
The new-school ports of Pac-Man basically gave you the original arcade games, all in one. The same old fun game was packaged along with Ms. Pac-Man, and several other versions included Junior Pac-Man.

Pac-Man World: 20th Anniversary
A trip back in time is in order for this game. A 3-D revamping of Pac-Man's traditional gameplay is the new innovation in this title, and the game is chock full of easter eggs for older fans, such as art, music and other goodies. Also, the gameplay is excellent, though the controls are a little lacking.

Note: I did not include the Pac-Man pinball games released in 1982 by Bally, which also achieved quite a popular following. Over 20,000 machines were produced.

Since the release of Pac-Man, the identity of Pac-Man as a character is instilled in all our minds as a piece of culture, but the gameplay is not. Once a challenging game, Pac-Man has now become a way to pass the time, as games have come much further since the days of Tohru Iwatani. Still, Pac-Man started a gaming craze, and was one of the first game characters to have his face on hundreds of outside products. Most gamers will tell you that although dated, Pac-Man is still one of the all-time classic games.

"Pac Man's character is difficult to explain even to the Japanese -- he is an innocent character. He hasn't been educated to discern between good and evil. He acts more like a small child than a grown-up person. Think of him as a child learning in the course of his daily activities. If some one tells him guns are evil, he would be the type to rush out and eat guns. But he would most probably eat any gun, even the pistols of policemen who need them." --Tohru Iwatani, creator of Pac-Man


Master Villain says Hey, Pac Mania was also on the Atari ST, it was packaged with it at one point.

Atari 2600 Game
Produced by: Atari and Sears
Model Number: CX2646 (Atari) and 49-78185 (Sears)
Rarity: 1 Common+ (Atari) and 3 Scarce (Sears)
Year of Release: 1981
Programmer: Tod Frye

Ok kids this is it, the game you have been waiting for. I am sure you all have many fond memories of playing Pac-Man in the arcade. Well, you can toss all those memories away, because this is Pac-Man for the Atari 2600. Finally you can have all the frustration of Pac-Man at home, without nice graphics or good gameplay getting in the way!

This game was an absolutely terrible translation of the arcade game of the same name. Atari really pulled a fast one on the public with this one. They knew that everyone would buy Pac-Man no matter what. So they put one of their worst men on it (Tod Frye, almost every game he ever worked on was canceled). To add insult to injury they decided to use the smallest sized ROM that they could, so that they could save a bit of money on each game. They used a 4K ROM when the design called for at least a 8K ROM (the arcade version used more than 24K of ROM space). The end result was a terrible game, but everyone still bought it.

The worst thing is that fact that this game will never go away. At some point shortly after its release a sound clip was recorded of a few seconds of gameplay ending in a death. That soundclip got used pretty much anytime any videogame was shown on TV (or in the movies) for the next 20 years. It didn't matter what game the people were playing, or what system, it would be that same sound.

10 Things I Hate About This Game
  1. The various bonus fruits have been replaced with a dumb looking bonus square vitamin square (doesn't Pac-Man already pop enough pills?). The bonus is worth the same stoopid 100 points each time, no matter what level you are on.

  2. The maze is ultra lame, and frankly makes me want to destroy all gravity.

  3. The tunnel is supposed to go from left to right, not top to bottom.

  4. The ghosts are all wrong in appearance and in movements. They are supposed to come out of the ghost house one at a time, not all at once.

  5. There are more copies of this cartridge than their are working Atari 2600 units. This (unfortunately) assures that all Atari owners have a copy.

  6. Pac-Man is not supposed to have an eye and the intermissions are missing completely.

  7. The points scoring is all wrong. They paid good money for the Pac-Man license, and couldn't even retain the same scoring as the arcade?

  8. The sound was super bad, and we still get subjected to it everytime anyone plays Crash Bandicoot on tv.

  9. There are many people who have no other memories of Pac-Man except for this cartridge, that is just plain wrong.

  10. The instruction manual says that Pac-Man lives in "Mazeland" and eats "video wafers". Hello, earth to Atari manual writing staff, Pac-Man lives in Pac-Land and eats power pellets, you can't just make stuff up and think that people will believe it.

From the instruction manual.
We know that millions of people all over the world just love the PAC-MAN arcade game. PAC-MAN has won the hearts of men, women, and children everywhere. We also know that PAC-MAN has traditionally been an arcade game. Well, we at ATARI know all about arcade games. After all, we make some of the greatest arcade games in the world, and we know how to bring the same dynamite game play into your home.
Collectors Information

This game is so common that you may have trouble walking down the street without finding a copy on the ground. It is worth approximately 7 cents for the cartridge, or $1 if it is still sealed in the original packaging. Don't bother looking for this one, it will find you soon enough.

The Atari and Sears versions come in different boxes. The Atari version came in an ugly orange box with a mega weak looking Pac-Man on it. The Sears version was a bit more attractive with a black box that had the same artwork as the cartridge.

Every great game has great villains, and Pac-Man's ghosts help make the game the major success and addiction that it is. Between the Japanese and American versions of Pac-Man there are 23 distinct name/nickname combinations for the four ghosts, and arcade operators could flip the dip switches in the machine to change the names of the ghosts to whatever combination they pleased. The ghosts' names/nicknames are...

  • Red Ghost: Oikake/Akabei, Urchin/Macky, and Shadow/Blinky
  • Pink Ghost: Machibuse/Pinky, Romp/Micky, and Speedy/Pinky
  • Blue Ghost: Kimagure/Aosuke, Stylist/Mucky, and Bashful/Inky
  • Orange Ghost: Otoboke/Guzuta, Crybaby/Mocky, and Pokey/Clyde (and, in Ms. Pac-Man, Sue)

Bonus Fact: Atari produced more Pac-Man cartridges than there were Atari 2600 systems. Why? Atari's management said that they believed that the game would be so popular that people would want to buy a second copy for their ski house. Yes, someone said that.

High Score: The Illustrated History of Electronic Games
Thanks to mr100percent for the info about Sue

It's a very, very old game.

Start at point 1, find a path through the maze. There are variants of this of course: one being which path through the maze goes through every part of the maze? Q*Bert was based on a similar idea - as your character progressed through a pyramid, as he jumped on various panels therein, they changed color - and your "level" was completed once every single panel had changed color. Various clones of Pac-Man had the same solution to that problem, changing the background color of a maze as you progressed through it, and you were "done" with that "level" once the maze had become the target color.

But Pac-Man had a different solution: representing the path through the maze with little dots that were "consumed" as he went through it, making a gobbling sound that soon was given the onomatopoeia "wocka wocka wocka". 

Now - a maze game where all you did was traverse through it would be incredibly boring and technically only ever end when the player tired of doing so. So the game designer added in four "ghosts" - multicolored adversaries who killed you at a touch. They would wander the maze in a "random" fashion, but pursue Pac-Man if they figured out where he was. This would present the opposite problem - that the game would end rather rapidly as the player was simply killed by pursuing ghosts.

But not all dots were equal: four of them were "power pills" - larger dots that turned the ghosts blue for a short period of time, made them run FROM Pac-Man rather than TOWARDS him, and made them edible. While blue, the ghosts could be temporarily "killed" by being eaten, leaving only their "eyes" behind to seek resurrection at the middle of the maze. This bought the player either time to finish the maze without fear of being killed, or buy points - as eating each successive ghost upped the points reward. (it's powers of two times 100- 400, 800, 1600). 

The term "Pac-Mania" was coined to describe the monster success of the game. It dominated both the gaming market in terms of money and sequels, but also mind share and branding. It spawned not only clones, sequels and home versions (everything from the Pac-Man cartridge to the Pac-Man watch game) but breakfast cereals, board games, toys,  a Saturday morning cartoon, and additions to the lexicon. "Power Pill" is an expression, and even a nickname for Aphex Twin.  

It was perfect for its time. It took advantage of the better resolutions and colors of burgeoning 1980s technology - replacing the mechanical "boinks" of games like Pong with music and sound effects, and updating moving monochromatic rectangles with colorful rounded shapes. But it wasn't so complex that the limits of the technology were apparent - such as in the case of games like Karate Master where the judge going "Full Point" sounds more like "FO POY" and the graphics look jagged and primary colored. It was in the ideal sweet spot in terms of using the technology without showing off its limitations.

It was also the selling point for many a game console - and the Atari 400 computer was notoriously sold in part for having a pretty close simulation of the arcade. Most other copies were terrible, most especially the Atari 2600 version. Having the equivalent to the arcade game at home was the ideal. Brad Paisley even famously sang in Welcome to the Future, "I'd have given everything to have my own Pac-Man game at home/Used to have to get a ride down to the arcade/Now I got it on my phone."

But of course, it couldn't be perfect. The paths of the ghosts weren't purely random - any randomizer back in the 1980s would have been quite predictable. And indeed, the ghosts followed predictable paths, and books were written and sold to explain how to exploit this by following specific paths through the maze at specific levels to "beat" the game. And the game could be beat - when the memory buffer allocated to score overran its boundary - it started to bleed over into the memory for the rest of the game, leading to very unpredictable results and the game malfunctioning.

And of course, to keep it interesting, they had to expand the franchise, to Ms. Pac-Man, a baby Pac-Man, a Super Pac Man, and so forth.

There have been a few theories as to why the game was so successful. Some pointed to the fact that it was based on one of the oldest games on earth, with mazes being something even today mowed into corn fields or created with very tall hedges in a garden - with admission charged to enter. 

But my own personal take is that it epitomized everything about the 1980s. Colors were brighter and flashier. Guitars were starting to give way to synthesizers, and electronic music was starting to move out of the prog-rock, weird-avenue-of-jazz sort of thing a college professor would Switched-On Bach to and hit the streets. Malls were a thing, and acquiring property and money was very much in vogue. People started to hear about this mogul called "Donald Trump". People attended MBA graduation ceremonies in Ray-Ban Wayfarer sunglasses with signs that said "MBA = BMW", and the whole zeitgeist there was captured in American Psycho. So what better pastime could you think of but a darkened room containing an electronically-scored diversion in which the acquisition of "points" by rampant consumption was the key to success? In one small package, it managed to encapsulate the decade's tropes in one shot.




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