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May 22, 2020 2:40 PM   Subscribe


I’ve got Puc-Man Fever! As in, the Japanese version of the Buckner & Garcia song “Pac-Man Fever” from 1981 re-recorded to use Pac’s original name.
posted by Servo5678 at 4:07 PM on May 22, 2020 [3 favorites]

posted by thelonius at 4:44 PM on May 22, 2020 [1 favorite]

16. The tribute song Pac-Man Fever by artists Jerry Buckner and Gary Garcia reached number nine in the US charts in March 1982. An album of video-game-inspired songs followed. It was not good.

My 10 year-old self begs to disagree. Why else would the immortal lyrics "Frogger takes one step at a time. The way that he moves has no reason to rhyme" be forever stuck in my head?
posted by meinvt at 4:58 PM on May 22, 2020 [10 favorites]

My mother could play on one quarter until she got bored with it and quit.
posted by COD at 5:12 PM on May 22, 2020 [2 favorites]

Pac Man along with Missile Command was one of the first full-color games to hit the arcades in ‘80, following Galaxian which Wikipedia says came out in April.

I interviewed at Atari Games in ‘92, probably best I didn’t get the job as their arc in the 90s was rather unhappy.

My #1 goal going to Tokyo that year was to get a job at Namco, I thought their gamedev sensibilities were tops (e.g. Ridge Racer), didn’t make it happen in the 7 years I was there alas...
posted by Heywood Mogroot III at 5:26 PM on May 22, 2020 [3 favorites]

here's ars' writeup of AI pac-man :P (i guess it's to move these things?)
It needed 50,000 hours to interpret a single Pac-Man maze, and again, that was choked up in terms of fidelity; one researcher admitted that higher resolutions are "still an open challenge for these kinds of networks." How many equivalent processing hours will be needed to recreate a dated 3D game like Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, let alone best-in-class 3D worlds?
for UE5 generative mashups!
posted by kliuless at 5:41 PM on May 22, 2020 [1 favorite]

I thought the inspiration for Pac Man's chomping sound came from this genius of the 1970's.
posted by not_on_display at 6:26 PM on May 22, 2020 [1 favorite]

Little known fact that his full name is Packert Manert.

Best of the Pacs Men for me were the one with the little pinball machine attached, and the one with HUGE PAC MAN mode.

I was always terrible at all of them. Still am.
posted by rhizome at 6:31 PM on May 22, 2020 [3 favorites]

An album of video-game-inspired songs followed. It was not good.

Pac Man Fever previously.

(I disagree that is not good. It's not great, but it's a lot of fun. I still have my vinyl.
posted by hippybear at 6:51 PM on May 22, 2020 [3 favorites]

Also, I don't even KNOW how much money I poured into Pac Man learning all the patterns so I could be impressive at the arcade. I got the pattern book even before most people heard there were patterns so I was looking impressive as hell up until word got out. Still, even just mastering the patterns at higher levels was an impressive investing of time and quarters.
posted by hippybear at 6:52 PM on May 22, 2020 [1 favorite]

36. In 2004, New York University students created a real-world version of Pac-Man entitled Pac-Manhattan, in which a player dressed as Pac-Man had to run around the city avoiding students dressed as ghosts. The game used mobile phone GPS signals to track their positions.

I would like more details about this given that the iPhone didn't even come out until a few years after 2004.
posted by hippybear at 6:58 PM on May 22, 2020 [1 favorite]

The Pac-Manhattan about page says they didn't use GPS. The players are just constantly on the phone with the controllers and relay their position and other relevant information via voice, it seems. Turns out the Guardian contains an error, who'da thunk it?
posted by axiom at 7:16 PM on May 22, 2020 [1 favorite]

I remember first seeing a Pac Man machine. It must have been very soon after it was available as this was at a sort of kid's birthday restaurant in Chicago that had rollerskating waiters and a stage show with a pipe organ that ascended onto the stage! (anyone remember Sally's Stage on the north side of Chicago?)... I even remember a paperback BOOK that us kids passed around that was about how to be good at Pac Man. I was never any good at it, though.
posted by SoberHighland at 8:43 PM on May 22, 2020 [2 favorites]

I remember *lining up* to play Pac-Man, and also roller skating to “Pac-Man Fever” at the rink (Skate Country 4EVER) in my hometown at the time.
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:33 PM on May 22, 2020 [3 favorites]

I would like more details about this given that the iPhone didn't even come out until a few years after 2004.

Admittedly, the first few years of Pac-Manhattan were not as successful.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 11:05 PM on May 22, 2020 [1 favorite]

Calling the heuristics controlling the ghosts “AI routines” is a bit of a stretch.
posted by acb at 7:01 AM on May 23, 2020 [1 favorite]

Scott: “You know Pac-Man?”

Ramona: “I know of him”

Thanks to a family friend who worked at the Aladdin lunch box factory, I was the first kid in my school to have a Pac-Man lunchbox.

It’s difficult to describe how nuts everyone went for Pac-Man. There was a goddamn song about him on the radio!
posted by Fleebnork at 7:23 AM on May 23, 2020 [2 favorites]

People are still writing songs about Pac-Man! (SLYT, "Inky's Lament")
posted by Shark Hat at 8:10 AM on May 23, 2020 [1 favorite]

It's difficult to describe how surprising and weird and delightful Pac-Man was. Earlier video games like Pong or Space Invaders were recreations of familiar things like tennis or familiar fantasies like pretending to hide behind cover and shoot enemies.

But Pac-Man running around a maze, trying to eat up all the dots, having to avoid these ghosts who are...sort of chasing you?--that moment of eating the big dot and turning the tables from the hunted to the hunter, the tunnel that warps you from one side of the maze to the other. It wasn't an electronic version of a familiar game, it was a new thing.

The first version of it I saw was the table version which was another layer of weirdness: looking down on the maze felt like I was seeing a thing moving around rather than watching it on an upright TV screen.
posted by straight at 8:14 AM on May 23, 2020 [4 favorites]

The success of Pac-Man inspired US distributor Bally Midway to create a series of mostly identical sequels: Ms Pac-Man

The real story of Ms Pac Man is very very different than this.
posted by JoeZydeco at 9:54 AM on May 23, 2020 [8 favorites]

That Ms Pac Man article is crazy. I had no idea!

I also liked Baby Pac Man with the downstairs pinball setup. I was once waiting for an Amtrak train which was several hours late (as they often are in the Western US), and I put a quarter into the Baby Pac Man machine and had my "pinball karma" where sometimes a quarter magically lasts a LOT longer than it should. I think I played maybe 20 minutes on one quarter, my first time at the machine?

It's never repeatable, but it's a thing with me.
posted by hippybear at 5:17 PM on May 23, 2020

By far the best Ms. Pac Man reference in my life, I've been chuckling at this inside my head for almost 40 years:

"When you're doin' the Donk..."
posted by rhizome at 9:33 AM on May 24, 2020 [1 favorite]

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