Pac-Man turns 35!

Pac-Man, the biggest arcade game of all time, turns 35!

Pac Man Released by the Japanese company Namco on May 22, 1980, Pac-Man was revolutionary: At a time when the arcades were ruled by games with abstracted, monochrome graphics (Space Invaders and Asteroids) aimed at boys, who mainly played them in video games arcades, Pac-Man offered a colorful cartoonish design with an appealing central character. Pac-Man revolved around eating, not shooting; and it was designed to appeal to young women and couples.

The game was developed primarily by a young Namco employee named Toru Iwatani over the course of a year, beginning in April 1979, employing a nine-man team. Japanese game developer Toru Iwatani set out to design a game to appeal to women and was reportedly inspired from a pizza that he was eating. After having eaten two slices, the idea of a rounded character with a large mouth occurred to him. He initially called the game “Pakkuman”, based on the sound one’s mouth makes when opening and closing it rapidly.

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When the game was launched in the U.S.A, the name was changed to Pac-man; the game immediately became a hit. 350,000 Pac-Man arcade machines were sold in the first 18 months. Pac-Man became one of the highest-grossing video games of the period, pulling in more than $2.5 billion dollars in revenue in the years that followed.

According to inventor Iwatani, Pac-Man’s enemies, the four colorful ghosts had distinct characters; at the 2011 Game Developers Conference he described the ghosts character in more detail. He stated that the red enemy chases Pac-Man, and the pink and blue enemies try to position themselves in front of Pac-Man’s mouth.

Pac-Man will be appearing in the upcoming film Pixels (2015), with Denis Akiyama playing game creator Toru Iwatani.

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