Pac-Man: The Game That Won't Go Away

ByABC News
August 9, 2006, 1:45 PM

Aug. 9, 2006 — -- In 1980, the video game gods delivered to the masses of pimply-faced, arcade-addicted teens across the country what could arguably be called the most important game of all time: Pac-Man.

Since then, the hungry little fella has gobbled up billions of pellets, ghosts, fruits, time and quarters in arcades, on TV and computer screens, and on cell phones and handhelds, turning him and his lady -- Ms. Pac-Man -- into household names.

"It's one of those great evergreen titles that people love to embrace," said Stuart Snyder, senior vice president and general manager of Gametap. "It's easy. It's simple. It's fun, and it's being discovered by an entirely new audience."

At 26 years old and with a swagger in his step, Pac-Man now makes his way onto the Xbox 360, adding another notch to his very round belt and turning another generation of gamers into strung-out Pac addicts.

As the story goes, the game's designer, Toru Iwatani, was having dinner with some friends at a Tokyo pizza place.

When Iwatani saw the pizza after a slice had been removed, he was inspired by the shape. About 15 months later, Namco released Pac-Man.

The rest is history.

From its humble beginnings in a Japanese pizza shop, Pac-Man went on to become the best-selling coin-operated arcade game of all time, selling more than 100,000 machines in the first year.

By 1982, Pac-mania had become an epidemic.

With millions of fans spending hundreds of hours and dropping millions of dollars in quarters into the machine's coin slots, it wasn't long before the rest of the entertainment world caught on.

ABC devised the Saturday morning cartoon "Pac-Man" that followed Pac-Man, wife Mrs. Pepper Pac-Man, and their child, Pac-Baby, as he protected Pac-Land from the sinister Mezmeron and his ghost minions: Pinky, Inky, Blinky, Clyde and Sue.

The year also saw the Pac-Man franchise continue to dominate video arcades with the release of Pac-Man Plus, Baby Pac-Man, Super Pac-Man, and the lovely lady herself, Ms. Pac-Man.