Pac-Man (character)

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Pac-Man character
File:Pac-Man character art - The Adventure Begins.png
Current appearance of Pac-Man, from Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures
First game Pac-Man (1980)
Created by Tōru Iwatani
Designed by Tōru Iwatani
Voiced by (see below)

Pac-Man is the protagonist fictional character of the franchise of the same name by Namco, who was first introduced in the Japanese arcade game Pac-Man on May 22, 1980 in Japan, later released in the United States in October the same year. Ever since, the character has appeared in more than 30 officially licensed game spin-offs,[1] as well as in numerous unauthorized clones and bootlegs,[2] spawned a variety of Pac-Man merchandise with his image, as well as a television series.[3] Pac-Man became a worldwide social phenomenon and Namco's mascot.[4]

Character design

Pac-Man's origins are debated. According to the character's creator Tōru Iwatani, the inspiration was pizza without a slice, which gave him a vision of "an animated pizza, racing through a maze and eating things with its absent-slice mouth".[5] However, he admittedly said in a 1986 interview that the design of the character also came from simplifying and rounding out the Japanese character for a mouth, kuchi.[6] The character's name comes from paku-paku (パクパク?), an onomatopoeic Japanese word for gobbling something up.[7][8] The character's name was originally written in English as "Puck-Man", but when Namco localized the game for the United States they changed it to "Pac-Man", fearing that vandals would change the P in Puck to an F.

The arcade art on the original Puck-Man portrayed him as a yellow circle with a large mouth as well as hands, feet, eyes and a long nose. In-game Pac-Man was represented as a two-dimensional sprite of a simple yellow circle with a mouth. 1984's Pac-Land was the first game (of many) to use his arcade art in-game. More recently Pac-Man appears as a full three-dimensional polygonal model. His design went through two minor changes from the Puck-Man cabinet art over the years, the first made his nose smaller in the 1990s and the second altered his eyes and shoes in 2010.


In video games

File:Original PacMan.png
Pac-Man as he appears in original game released in 1980.

Pac-Man first appeared in the original action game of the same name. Despite Pac-Man's legacy, Pac-Man himself would not appear again until the 1982 arcade release of Super Pac-Man, which introduced a change into Super Pac-Man (Pac-Man increased in size and invulnerability). Later arcade games include Pac-Land, Pac-Mania and Pac-Man Arrangement, a remake of the original Pac-Man. Pac-Man World was released in 1999 on the PlayStation, and introduced new abilities to him (reminiscent to Mario's and Sonic the Hedgehog's abilities).[9] The game contributed heavily to the series as well as the character and spawned two sequels and a spin-off as well. Pac-Man World 2 features Pac-Man on an adventure to rescue Pac-Land from an ancient spirit known as Spooky. Pac-Man World 3 was released in 2005 to celebrate Pac-Man's 25th anniversary.[10][11] In Pac 'n Roll, a young Pac-Man is being trained by the great Pac-Master.[12]

Several spin-offs have been released, such as a racing game Pac-Man World Rally. Midway Games established a spin-off titled Ms. Pac-Man (featuring Pac-Man's wife of the same name), which was created without Namco's consent.[13] Pac-Man appears in Street Fighter X Tekken as a playable guest fighter, riding a giant Mokujin robot,[14] and in Everybody's Golf 6 as a playable guest golfer (through DLC).[15] Pac-Man has also appeared in all three Mario Kart Arcade GP installments as a playable racer.

Pac-Man is also a playable character in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U, co-developed by Sora Ltd. and Bandai Namco Games. Sporting his classic design used in artwork for the original game and in Pac-Man World, the character's moveset is based around old Pacman games and various other Namco arcade titles, such as deploying a power pellet and following after it, summoning fire hydrants from Pac-Land, or jumping on the trampoline from Mappy. An Amiibo figure released of Pac-Man also allows Pac-Man elements to appear in compatible Nintendo titles, such as Mario Kart 8 and Super Mario Maker.

Other appearances

"Pac-Man Fever", a hit single named after the character, reached number nine on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States in March 1982[16] and was certified Gold by the RIAA that same month.[17] In the late 2000s, a feature film was reported to be in development.[18][19]

Pac-Man starred in the 1982–1983 Pac-Man cartoon voiced by Marty Ingels. Pac-Man works to keep Mezmaron and the Ghost Monsters from finding the Power Pellet Forest.[3]

In 2010, a computer-generated animated series was reported to be in the works.[20][21] It was later revealed as Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures, which aired on Disney XD in 2013. The series revolves around a teenage[22] Pac-Man (aka Pacster or Pac), who protects Pac-World from ghosts alongside his high school friends.[23]

The character has also made several cameo appearances in the various television cartoon series and movies, including Tron, Tiny Toon Adventures (episodes "Gang Buster's" and "Buster and Babs Go Hawaiian"), The Simpsons (episode "Homer and Ned's Hail Mary Pass"), Futurama (episode "Anthology of Interest II" voiced by David Herman), South Park (episode "Imaginationland Episode III"), Drawn Together (episodes "Gay Bash" and "Nipple Ring-Ring Goes to Foster Care"), Family Guy (episodes "Stuck Together, Torn Apart", "Stewie Griffin: The Untold Story", and "Candy, Quahog Marshmallow"), Annoying Orange (episode "Pacmania"), Robot Chicken (episodes "Tubba-Bubba's Now Hubba-Hubba"[24] and "Fool's Goldfinger"[25]), and Mad[26]

Pac-Man also makes a cameo appearance in the Disney animated film Wreck-It Ralph, where he is seen in his original appearance and attending Fix-It Felix Jr.'s party.

Pac-Man appears in the 2015 film Pixels. He is among the arcade game characters that the aliens unleash upon Earth. His creator Tōru Iwatani also appears in the movie as an Electric Dreams Factory Arcade repairman while Denis Akiyama portrays the films Tōru Iwatani who tries to reason with Pac-Man only to get his right arm pixelated upon it being bitten by Pac-Man.

The character was the main mascot of the children's play area Pac-Man Land which was located in Six Flags Over Texas from 1983–1985. It was then changed to Looney Tunes Land.


Pac-Man is often portrayed as a family man, as a result of the multiple spin-offs of his games which star family members. He is often seen married to Ms. Pac-Man, and the father to either one or two children. In many incarnations he also has a pet dog, named Chomp-Chomp in his most famous depiction in the cartoon and Pac-Land. They are often seen living inside of a house shaped like Pac-Man's face with windows for eyes and a door in place of his mouth. In the cartoon series, this house was painted white, while often in the games it is painted yellow. Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures, the new 2013 cartoon, portrays Pac-Man as being a high schooler who goes to school with friends Cylindria and Spiral.

In the Hanna-Barbera cartoon series, he nicknames Ms. Pac-Man "Pepper," Baby Pac-Man is a boy (in the games, she is a girl with a bow like her mother's) and he also had a pet cat named Sourpuss. The second season of the cartoon introduced Pac-Man Jr. as a greaser who was actually Pac-Man's nephew, and Super Pac-Man who was not Pac-Man himself, but a separate character who came into scenes after unzipping a zipper in the middle of the open sky. Pac-Land marks the first official use of Ms. Pac-Man and Pac-Baby in a Namco title.

Pac-Man himself is often characterized as happy-go-lucky and fun loving, often with a voracious appetite, who enjoys adventure but often prefers a quiet family life. His first platforming title, Pac-Land, illustrating him taking frequent breaks between levels at signs that said "Break Time" while ending three-level arcs by returning to his home, leading to cutscenes where he is seen sitting with his family at dinner and sleeping in his bed. Pac-Man 2 begins with Pac-Man doing chores for his family, with various elements of the game causing him to abruptly change his mood from happy, to sad, to angry, to silly, and even flaky. It culminates with the Ghost Witch's plot to create a monster made of chewed bubble-gum sparking a sense of heroism in Pac-Man causing him to seek out the witch and put a stop to her plot. The Pac-Man World series portrays Pac-Man as being generally happy, though slightly sarcastic, protecting his family, and ultimately his whole world from an evil-doing ghost named Orson and his plans to take-over Pac-Land from the spectral zone, where the Ghosts from his games are said to come from.

Pac-Man's job varies from game-to-game. In the Hanna-Barbera animated series he is said to be the protector of the Power Pellet Forest, which the main villain Mezmaron hopes to infiltrate and steal power pellets for energy to use in his evil schemes. In the games, he is often portrayed as not having a job, but is recognised throughout Pac-Land as a hero who constantly rids them from the threat of ghosts. Pac-Man World indicates that he has a job, since he is seen walking home from work with a lunchbox in hand, but it is never specified exactly what his job is. Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures portrays Pac-Man as a student.

Pac-Man has had a variety of arch enemies through the years. The mysterious Mezmaron, the villain of the Hanna-Barbera series, used the five main "ghost-monsters" (as they were called in the TV series) from the game — Inky, Blinky, Pinky, Clyde and Sue — as henchmen in his plot to steal the power pellets from the Power Pellet forest. His second nemesis, the Ghost Witch, appeared in Pac-Man 2 and Pac-In-Time, also using the main five ghosts from the games as henchmen. In the first game, she attempted to take over Pac-Man's city by creating a monster out of pre-chewed gum. In the second, she attempted to rid herself of Pac-Man by banishing him to a time warp. The Pac-Man World games' main villain was Orson, an ordinary ghost who was also an inventive genius. Orson was the villain in the first title, but assisted Pac-Man in the third game against a greater threat to the both of them, Erwin. Spooky, a ghost once vanished by Pac-a-Lot, that was freed (albeit unintentionally) by Blinky, Inky, Pinky and Clyde. In Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures, the villain is Betrayus, the dead brother of President Spheros.

Pac-Man's relationship to the original four ghosts who appeared in his game is usually one of friendly antagonism. In virtually every game and cartoon Pac-Man sees the ghosts as a nuisance rather than a threat, and often has a power pellet handy to dispatch their bullying attempts in an instant. The ghosts in turn are often portrayed as being crude, boorish, and bullying but ultimately bumbling and useless in their attempts to get the better of Pac-Man. In Ghostly Adventures the girl ghost Pinky has a crush on Pac.

What happens to Pac-Man when he is caught by the ghosts varies. The cartoon made the claim that if the ghosts "chomped" Pac-Man it would leave him temporarily without a skeleton, but seeing that as being too graphic for children, later seasons only made Pac-Man temporarily weak after being chomped. Pac-Man 2 indicated that the Ghosts were actually adept at scaring Pac-Man, often by making funny faces, and Pac-Man was powerless against them unless he had a Power Pellet. Pac-Man World simply indicates that when Pac-Man touches a ghost, it is similar to them coming to blows with one another. The 2011 cartoon pilot suggests that Pac-Man could actually eat the ghosts without the aid of a power-pellet, but if he does the ghost turns into tasteless goo in Pac-Man's mouth which he would prefer not to eat.

Voice actors


Since the release of Pac-Man in 1980, Pac-Man has become a social phenomenon[4] and became an icon of the video game industry, as well as popular culture.[12][27][28] According to the Davie-Brown Index (DBI), Pac-Man has the highest brand awareness of any video game character among American consumers, recognized by 94 percent of them (surpassing Mario and Sonic).[29] Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto even stated that Pac-Man was his favorite video game character.[30] Pac-Man was the first character inducted at Twin Galaxies' International Video Game Hall of Fame in 2010.[31]

GameDaily ranked Pac-Man seventh on their list of "Top 25 Baldies".[32] In 2012, GamesRadar ranked him as the 73rd "most memorable, influential, and badass" protagonist in games, commenting: "Toru Iwatani’s simple, iconic, timeless character design has seen Pac-Man endure for more than 30 years and become an established visual shorthand for gaming and gaming culture all over the world."[33]

Cultural impact

The term Pac-Man defense in mergers and acquisitions refers to a hostile takeover target that attempts to reverse the situation and take over its would-be acquirer instead, a reference to Pac-Man's power pellets.[34] Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao was nicknamed "Pac-Man", as was American professional wrestler and football player Adam Jones.[35]


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