April 20, 2011— -- Pac-Man fans, get ready for the time-suck of your life. The new website World's Biggest Pac-Man turns the classic arcade game into a massive online diversion.
Launched earlier this month at Microsoft's Mix11 conference in Las Vegas, the website game was created by the Australian media agency Soap Creative (in partnership with Pac-Man's publisher Namco-Bandai) to highlight Microsoft's latest browser, IE9.
The free browser-based game doesn't just let users play the retro game, it lets them create their own mazes and link them up with others online.
In the week since the site's launch, fans around the world have played more than 2.5 million mazes and contributed more than 12,500. (The site also says it has eaten more than 270 million Pac-Man dots.)
Player-Submitted Mazes Shaped in Unexpected Ways
But these aren't your run-of-the-mill Pac-Man mazes. Players around the world are showing off their creativity with mazes shaped like hamburgers, trumpets and video game characters Mario and Sonic the Hedgehog. Other fans have been submitting mazes with messages like "I Love Wendy," "Burger Time" and "Ivan Made This Site."
In an earlierblog post about the online game, Soap Creative acknowledged that some players have gone more low-brow with their mazes, but to make sure the mazes remain within the G-rated range, the company said it's keeping an eye on them. It also expects that the Facebook Connect feature serves as a kind of control.
Any player who visits the site can pick any maze and start playing, but to create an original maze, everyone must sign in with Facebook Connect.
So far, the United States is at the top of the international leaderboard, with more than 76.4 Pac-Man dots eaten. Brazil and Spain follow right behind, with 31 million and 20 million dots, respectively.
Pac-Man Originally Called Puck Man
The now-iconic game was first released in Japan by Namco-Bandai Games in May 1980. Originally called Puck Man, Pac-Man launched in the U.S. in October 1980 and went on to sell more than 100,000 units in its first year of production.
Now, the game is considered the world's most successful coin-operated game by Guinness World Records.
The name of the game comes from the sound of eating, according to the official Pac-Man website. "Paku" is the Japanese sound for "chomp."