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Pac-Man: 25 Fun and Interesting Facts (History, Origins, Trivia,…)

Last Updated on January 25, 2024 by Gamesver Team and JC Franco

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One thing we all know about Pac-Man is that it’s a game that’s been around for a long time. However, many of us don’t seem to know much more than that. If you take the time to investigate the history of Pac-Man, you will discover many fun and interesting facts you simply never knew before. 

Today we’re going to take a closer look at the game many of us grew up with: Pac-Man. There’s no doubt that you will find that there’s so much more to Pac-Man than just a game.

These are 25 facts about Pac-Man:

1. The original name intended for the game was “Puckman”.

The Japanese creators of the game first named it “Puckman”, which is derived from the word “paku”, which means “chomp”. Pac-Man was suggested as a different name because arcade operators worried that vandals might alter the game name to something less innocent.

2. It took over a year to create Pac-Man.

Development of Pac-Man began in the very early days of 1979. It took a total of 1 year and 5 months to complete the game, which was a long time for a video game to be created in those days.

3. Pac-Man was released in 1980.

The very first Pac-Man arcade machine was placed in Shibuya in Tokyo on 22 May 1980.

4. The original target audience for Pac-Man was girls.

In the 70s and 80s, most video games were aimed at boys. The creator designed the game with women in mind. He had no idea that it would end up appealing to both boys and girls.

5. The inspiration for the game was food.

The creator of Pac-Man was inspired to create a character that looks like Pac-Man when he removed a slice from a pizza. It gave him the idea of a round character with a pizza slice-style mouth.

6. The ghosts were first monsters, but were later known as ghosts.

The original version of Pac-Man games portrayed the ghosts as monsters wearing cloaks (with feet only visible underneath the cloak). Even though they were originally shown as monsters, they had some ghostly characteristics, such as being able to float.

7. Each of the ghosts in Pac-Man has a different personality.

Each of the ghosts that appear in Pac-Man has both a Japanese and English personality. In English, we know them as Inky, Blinky, Clyde, and Pinky. In Japanese, they are known as Fickle, Chaser, Stupid, and Ambusher. 

8. The game’s creator had no actual training as a programmer.

The designer of Pac-Man, Toru Iwatani, had no training as a programmer or interest in designing video games when he joined Namco in 1977. This was just before he designed the Pac-Man game, and he was only 22 years old at the time.

9. The creator of Pac-Man made no money from the game. 

Toru Iwatani, who created Pac-Man, received no direct benefits from creating the game. The game was considered to be created by the company he worked for, and so he received no royalties or direct compensation. 

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10. No one ever expected the game to become so popular.

No one knew that Pac-Man would be so popular. In fact, when it was first released, it did appeal to women and younger players, with little interest from more experienced players. For all intents and purposes, it received an average response from the Japanese public at first. It only became very popular when it was distributed in America by Bally/Midway.

11. Fans of the game spent over $1 billion in quarters within the first 15 months of the game’s release.

With Pac-Man arcades being placed all over America, the phenomenon of the game was sparked. Kids were more than happy to spend their saved quarters on the game. 

12. Canned Pac-Man pasta came out in the early 1980s and was very popular.

Pac-Man pasta was a product created by Chef Boyardee. It consisted of spaghetti in the shape of the characters. 3 unique flavors were available, including cheese, golden chicken, and mini meat balls.

13. “Pac-Man” became so popular that it also became an economic term.

In the investing and business world, the term “Pac-Man” refers to a hostile takeover defense where the target company tries to get control of the company that bid for it by purchasing high amounts of stock.

14. The popularity of the game concerned both parents and psychologists. 

The more kids wanted to spend their money on the game, the more parents became concerned about whether or not the game was healthy for children. There were even news publications at the time calling the game a “new addiction” for young people. Psychologists were also very interested in the mental effect of the game on teens.

15. The pellets in the game are actually cookies.

The first version of the Pac-Dots was meant to be cookies. Newer versions of the game have squares or yellow dots that don’t really resemble cookies. 

16. 100,000 Pac-Man arcades were sold in just over a year of the release.

With Pac-Man becoming so popular in the USA, the sale of arcade machines skyrocketed. 

17. In 2009, the game’s leading yellow character was recognized by the Guinness World Records.

Pac-Man has been recognized and awarded by the Guinness World Records in several ways over the years. In 2009 the game made a record as Most Recognized Video Game Character.

18. Google doffed its virtual hat to Pac-Man for its 30th birthday in 2010.

On Pac-Man’s 30th birthday, Google placed an interactive doodle on their home search page. Users could play Pac-Man and revisit the game they loved!

19. The maximum possible score on Pac-Man if the game is played perfectly is 3,333,360.

The official highest possible score in Pac-Man is 3,333,360; if a perfect game is played. Billy Mitchell achieved this high score in 1999 after playing 255 perfect levels. 

20. On April Fool’s day in 2015, Pac-Man and Google collaborated.

In 2015 Google created a Pac-Man game that could be played on Google Maps. Users of Google Maps could click on the Pac-Man button on the bottom of the screen and play Pac-Man on their displayed map. 

21. A hit song called “Pac-Man Fever” came out in 1981.

Buckner & Garcia released the hit single in 1981. In 1982 the song ranked number 9 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the USA.

22. The Pac-Man board game came out in 1982. 

Milton Bradley presented a Pac-Man board game for up to 4 players. Players use dice throws to move 4 Pac-Man characters and 2 ghosts. 

23. Pac-and-Pal, a new version of the game, was released in 1983.

Japanese game center namco
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Pac-and-Pal was the 3rd version of Pac-Man released by Namco. In this version of the game, players must ensure to eat items in an enclosed maze while escaping 4 ghosts that want to capture/kill them.

24. For Pac-Man’s 20th anniversary, Pac-Man World was released.

The 20th Anniversary of Pac-Man was in 1993 and was celebrated with the release of a 3D platform video game for PlayStation called “Pac-Man World”. In this game, Pac-Man must navigate through 6 words of 5 stages each. In each stage, he must consume a certain number of pellets to be allowed to exit the door into the next level. 

25. Pac-Man featured in the popular 2003 series, Scrubs.

In the 17th episode of the second season of Scrubs, Turk and Dr. Kelso battle it out over a game of Pac-Man.

Last Word

Now that you know more about the history of Pac-Man and all the interesting facts about the game, you’re probably even more drawn to it. If you haven’t played Pac-Man in a while, perhaps it’s time to grab a board game or download the game. It’s spans of fun, and perhaps even your children, with no historical background or experience of the game, may fall in love with it too.

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This article was co-authored by our team of in-house and freelance writers, and reviewed by our editors, who enjoy sharing their knowledge about their favorite games with others!

JC Franco
Editor | + posts

JC Franco serves as a New York-based editor for Gamesver. His interest for board games centers around chess, a pursuit he began in elementary school at the age of 9. Holding a Bachelor’s degree in Business from Mercyhurst University, JC brings a blend of business acumen and creative insight to his role. Beyond his editorial endeavors, he is a certified USPTA professional, imparting his knowledge in tennis to enthusiasts across the New York City Metropolitan area.