40 Years of Pac-Man – 40 Facts

Pac-Man one of the most recognisable icons in video gaming history will turn 40 on May 22 this year (2020).  To celebrate this this let us take a look at 40 facts about this video gaming classic.

Toru Iwatani

Toru Iwatani Pac-Man

The creator of Pac-Man was Toru Iwatani.

No formal training in video games

When Toru Iwatani started working at Namco, he thought he was going to work on pinball design and he had no training in video games.

Pac-Man Shape

The character shape is inspired by the Japanese kanji for mouth (Kuchi) and a pizza with a missing slice.

The name Pac-ManPac-Man Name

The name Pac-Man derives from the Japanese onomatopoeic phrase: Pakku-Pakku Taberu that describes the sound and movement of a mouth opening and closing in rapid succession.

Something for Women40 years of Pac-Man

Toru Iwatani developed the game thinking that it was something women could also enjoy in the arcades.  Something colourful and without having to shoot.


Initially the game was going to be called Puck-Man, but it was later changed to avoid English speaking nincompoops changing it to “Fuck-Man”.

Pac-Man EatsPac-Man Eats

The little dots or balls that Pac-Man eats in the mazes originally symbolised cookies.

The fruits and itemsGalaxian Flagship

The fruits and items that Pac-Man can collect in the centre of the maze are: Apple, cherry, orange, melon, strawberry, bell, key and of course the Galaxian Flagship.


The red ghost is called Blinky. Blinky chases the player down via the shortest path.

PinkyPinky Pac-Man

Pinky the pink ghost, takes a detour to try to “ambush” Pac-man.

InkyInky Pac-Man

Inky, the blue ghost, tries to position himself between the red ghost and two squares ahead of Pac-Man.

ClydeClyde Pac-Man

The orange ghost, Clyde, appears to move randomly, but actually follows two different patterns depending on how far away Pac-Man is.

Red Ghosts

Apparently Namco originally requested for all of the ghosts to be red.


Each level has 240 dots or balls to devour.


Inspired by fireworks, when Pac-Man is killed, he dissolves in a circular motion.

Difficulty40 years of Pac-Man

As the difficulty increases, Pac-Man becomes slower, while ghosts move faster.

Level 256Pac-Man 256 Glitch

At Pac-Man level 256 a glitch occurs. Otherwise known as the “split-screen level” or a “kill screen”

256 Endless MazePac-Man 256

A video game called “Pac Man 256 Endless Maze” was released in 2015 for consoles and mobile devices commemorating this bug.

Popularity 40 years of Pac-Man

Pac-Man was more popular in the United States than in Japan.

$1 billionPac-Man Billions

In first 12 months, Pac-Man had earned over $1 billion in the USA.  A huge amount money!

Arcade MachinesPac-Man arcade machine

Pac-Man sold more than a whopping 350,000 arcade machines worldwide.

StarWarspac-man worth more than starwars

In the late 1980s, the revenue brought in by Pac-Man outnumbered those of Star Wars.

Ms. Pac-ManMrs. Pac-Man

Ms. Pac-Man released in 1981 was the first game with a female lead. It sold more than 117,000 units making it the the fourth best seller of all time.

Pac-Woman?Mrs. Pac-Man

Ms. Pac-Man used her “married name” and was therefore not named called Pac-Woman.

Ms. Pac-Man wasn’t by Namco

Ms. Pac-Man was not an original Namco game  It was a pirated modification of the original.  The arcade Ms. Pac-Man never went to Japan.

Pac-Man SongPac-Man Fever by Buckner & Garcia

The song “Pac-Man Fever” by Buckner & Garcia was released in December 1981. It has sold over 2,500,000 copies of the single to this day. Listen on YouTube.

The son of Pac-ManSon of Pac-Man

The son of Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man is Jr. Pac-Man.  Whom was a star in his own 1983 game. Like Ms. Pac-Man it was developed by Bally Midway instead of Namco.

TelevisionPac-Man TV Series

An animated TV series based on Pac-Man was released in 1982.  It wasn’t the most successful and only lasted for two seasons.

Platform Gamepac-man pac-land game

In 1984 Pac-Man starred in a horizontal platform game called Pac-Land.

Board Gamepac-man board game

MB released a board game adaptation of the video game Pac-Man in 1982.


Pac-Man has a small cameo in the 1982 movie “Tron”.

Perfect Gamepac-man Billy Mitchell

In 1999 Billy Mitchell had the “perfect game” with a score of 3,333,360 points after five and a half hours of play.

Pixelspac-man pixels movie

Toru Iwatani had a cameo in the movie Pixels.  A movie that paid homage to Pac-Man with coloured cars instead of ghosts.

Pac-Man Vs.

At the E3 in 2011, Toru Iwatani and Shigeru Miyamoto presented Pac-Man Vs. for GameCube, a multiplayer that allowed us to play with our Game Boy Advance connected to the GameCube.

Guinness Record40 years of Pac-Man

Pac-Man holds the Guinness record as the most successful coin game and as the most recognisable video game character.

Google Doodle

Pac-Man became one of the most popular Google doodle. A mini-game hidden in the search engine. It accumulated a total of more than 5 million hours of gameplay.

Business Pac-Man Billions

Pac-Man is also used as a defensive business term.  Known as Pac-Man defense, When a company that is about to be acquired suddenly is able to take over the hostile company. Such as when the he chases the ghosts after picking up a Power Up.

Mapped Out PatternsLongest Video Game Franchise PacMan

It is possible to go through each level of the game following specific patterns that have been mapped out to attain a perfect game.

Quit His JobToru Iwatani Pac-Man

Toru Iwatani has quit his job as a video game developer. He is now a professor and an adviser at the Tokyo Polytechnic University.

DJ Ken Ishii

To celebrate the 40th anniversary, Namco employed the services of DJ Ken Ishii to compose a commemorative song. Listen and watch on YouTube.


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1 Response

  1. 1 March 2021

    […] Lair lived on as a legend. Today, it is one of three arcade games (alongside Pong and Pac-Man) to have have earned permanent residence in the hallowed halls of the Smithsonian […]

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