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Introducing Pacman

Pacman is a legendary game with an enthusiastic following from around the world. Since its introduction in 1980, Pacman's image has been splashed across magazine covers, television screens, T-shirts, and bumper stickers. Created by Japan's Namco, and distributed in the United States by Bally, Pacman is an icon of 1980's popular culture. For more information about the making of Pacman, see History of the Game.

Playing the game

Your object is to help Pacman avoid the monsters and rid the screen of dots. When Pacman eats an energizer, the monsters are rendered harmless and turn dark blue. Now it's Pacman's turn to eat them and earn points.

Characters of the game

Constantly pursued by monsters, Pacman has moments when he can turn and chase them all away.
Blinky, Pinky, Inky, and Clyde live to eat Pacman.
Save the energizers until pacman really needs them. There are only four energizer per level.
After a monster turns dark blue, he is harmless and can be eaten for points. When a blue monster starts flashing, look out! He is about to transform back into his former ravenous self, only to chase Pacman again.

Tips and tricks

  • Delay eating energizers until the monsters are near. The longer Pacman waits, the closer the monsters get, and the easier it is for Pacman to eat them once they have turned blue.
  • Once the monsters turn blue and run away, help Pacman eat all the dots that he can. After he clears the screen of dots, you advance to the next level.
  • Turn Pacman into the tunnel to escape from monsters, and watch him emerge safely on the other side of the screen.
  • Stall Pacman from entering the tunnel and then, just before the monsters reach Pacman, duck him into the tunnel. By attracting the monsters to one side of the screen, you reduce Pacman's chances of meeting them when he emerges on the other side of the screen.

Using the tunnel


The more Pacman eats, the more points you earn.
Dots are worth 10 points each.
Energizers are worth 50 points each.
Blue monsters increase in value:
  • The first monster is worth 200 points.
  • The second monster is worth 400 points.
  • The third monster is worth 800 points.
  • The fourth monster is worth 1,600 points.
  • If Pacman eats all four monsters, you earn a total of 3,000 points.
The cherry is worth 100 points. It appears during the first level of game play.
The strawberry is worth 300 points. It appears during the second level of game play.
The orange is worth 500 points. It appears during the third and fourth level of game play.
The apple is worth 700 points. It appears during the fifth and sixth level of game play.
The pineapple is worth 1,000 points. It appears during the seventh and eighth level of game play.
The Galaxian spaceship is worth 2,000 points. It appears during the ninth and tenth level of game play.
The bell is worth 3,000 points. It appears during the eleventh and twelfth level of game play.
The key is worth 5,000 points. It appears during the thirdteenth and all subsequent levels of game play.

History of the game

Pacman was first introduced to the arcades at the end of 1980. The voracious little critter caught the hearts and imaginations of the public like no other game and is the hallmark of the golden age of video games.

A place in video game history

"Pacman is the most unisersally known game", said Chris Lindsey, director of the National Video Game and Coin-Op Museum in St. Louis. "Everbody knows about Pacman. And I've noticed, most everybody can play Pacman pretty well. Pacman makes just about the best use of the joystick one can imagine. It's so intuitive that it puts other gamnes to shame in terms of how easy it is for a person to walk up, stick a quarter in the machine, and start doing something meaningful. At the time, Pacman introduced a completely unique stlye of game play and was highly identifiable in terms of it's music. With Pacman, everythng was there. The video game industry needs another game that captures the public's heart like Pacman, and so far, no one has been able to come up with it."

The great 25-cent escape

"People expect to see Pacman when they come into the museum, and without fail, when they see it, they want to play it," Lindsay said. "People remember spending hours and hours at Pacman. They like to see how good they are now when they play it. And I would say that, perhaps more than any other game, the same playing skills still apply. Perhaps it's because of the intuitive game play. You don't have to memorize the behavior of a wide array of enemies as you do with some other games. You just have to remember that when the ghosts turn blue, you only have seconds, until they start seriously blinking, to go and get them. And Pacman is a little bit looser in its stlye of game play -- more open. For instance, you can kill time in the lower left hand corner until you see an opening between the ghosts, and you can strategize a bit more: You can play with the tunnels, you can play with the position of the ghosts in relation to the energizers. Even people who haven't played in years remember those strategies."

After all these years, the challenge of Pacman still remains.

"You can also get into some really fun fams, when you've got a ghost on your tail and you have to make a decision about whether you're going to go left, or right, or straight at the next junction, which is in .03 seconds," Lindsey said. "It gets to be pretty tense, especially when those ghosts start moving really fast and the energizers aren't lasting as long. Pacman can be real heart-thumping game."

Namco notes

Ever wonder why Pacman is yellow and round, or how he got his name?

Namco engineers report that Pacman was inspired by the idea of an animated pizza pie who runs around and eats things, instead of being eaten. Hence, the round, yellow character, with a slicelike mouth, that is always chomping. Namco also reports that Pacman's name emerged from the Japanese word for eating, "paku-paku."

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