When we think of video game characters, many can come to mind, such as Mario, Pikachu, Sonic: The Hedgehog just to name a few. They are all very important to the gamer community, because basically they are icons for everyone who loves this wonderful world of consoles and joysticks, but no one has influenced and marked as many people as Pac-Man.
1980 was a key year for pop culture, because in addition to seeing important films such as Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back or The Shining, they came into our lives. But in that year, the Japanese video game developer company, Namco together with the designer Toru Iwatani lAnd they showed the world this yellow character with a huge mouth that in addition to eating the ghosts, he did the same around the world.
The idea that revolutionized video games
Like many great ideas, Pac-Man was born out of a spontaneous moment. According to Iwatani himself, everything was born when he was eating a pizza, and when he took a slice he realized that he could make a character with that peculiar aspect, drawing on all your imagination.
The name of this yellow circle, as well as its origin, is also full of curiosities. You may remember the explanation Scott Pilgrim gives Ramona Flowers to try to impress her, jiar jiar, but we will make it clearer here. It received that name thanks to the Japanese paku onomatopoeia, a sound that comes from opening and closing the mouth, but later it was changed to Puck-Man.
When the video game hit the US market, the company that bought the rights to take him to Uncle Sam’s land decided to rename Pac-Man because people I could change the letter P for an F and thus become a somewhat rude word that they didn’t want to be related to, you know how some funny ones are.
In addition to the yellow circle, others of the important personages are the famous ghosts, called Pinky, Blinky, Inky and Clyde. Toru Iwatani also said that he decided to make them look much friendlier, with bright colors and huge eyes because he didn’t want the kids to be scared away by playing. Also, if you notice, each one has a different personality.
This video game is full of curiosities, for example, the idea of putting a power pill so that the beloved Pac-Man had super strength is a tribute to the cartoons of Popeye and his love for spinach. It was also one of the first titles in history to incorporate a power up for the characters, making it a pioneer within the industry.
On May 22, 1980 Namco installed the first Pac-Man machine outside a theater in Shibuya, Tokyo.But it wasn’t until he came to the United States that he became popular. One year after its launch, 100,000 units had been sold and 250 million games were played every week
Pac-Man’s success was so great that, in addition to a ton of sequels that came with the passing of the years, became the first commercial mascot of a video game, since since it was released products like lunch boxes, coloring books, t-shirts, board games, pajamas and, for the romantic gamer, valentine cards. There is practically everything you can imagine.
Since then, this great character has had many adventures, jumped out of the pixels to look a bit more humanized on the new consoles. Like a legend in the gamer world, Pac-Man has had appearances in other video games, which are curiously from fights like Street Fighter X Tekken or Super Smash Bros.
Pac-Man’s influence on pop culture
But beyond being one of the most important video games in history, Pac-Man is one of those phenomena that went off the screen and went to other places that perhaps nobody imagined, such as music, movies and television..
In 1982 and inspired by the sounds in the game, Jerry Buckner and Gary Garcia composed a track called “Pac-Man Fever” as a tribute to the video game and reached number nine on the US charts in March 1982.. After this, these musicians composed an album of songs inspired by video games, but they say that it is not so good….
The effects in Pac-Man not only inspired Jerry and Gary, It also helped many hip-hop pioneers make their first tracks like Jonzun Crew’s “Pack Jam” and “Jam on Revenge” by Newcleus.
Pac-Man’s popularity was so great that in 1982, one of the most important animation houses in the world, Hannah-Barbera decided to do a series about this character.and. Pac-Man, Mrs. Pac-Man, their son Pac-Baby, and their cat Sour Puss were the protagonists as they try to escape the evil Mezmaron, who is obsessed with energy pills.
In addition to the animated series, Pac-Man has also appeared in other movies and television series such as Friends, in that chapter where Phoebe gives Chandler and Monica an impeccable cabinet of Mrs. Pac-Man as a late wedding gift. In another series called CabLouie (Danny DeVito) He installs a Pac-Man cabinet in the garage and Jim (Christopher Lloyd) becomes addicted to the game.
Pac-Man has also had to see him in movies like Ralph the Demolisher (with lots of cameos from other video game characters) and even in Pixels with Adam Sandler although the truth is best not to remember it. This character as you will see, beyond invading pop culture it became a benchmark in the world of video games.
In 1980 no one could believe that something as shocking as that first Pac-Man title could be possible, however, 40 years after its existence and despite the fact that the gamer world has evolved by leaps and bounds, we are still amazed when we rediscover this game now on our cell phones. A true masterpiece that will never go out of style.