My earliest gaming memory goes to the big round yellow guy Pac-Man. Friday nights were known as my “night to stay up”. The catch was I had to wait until my younger brother fell asleep. This was torture to me as I impatiently waited for him to nod off so I could slowly sneak down the stairs. My dad would order a pizza and then we would fire up the Atari 2600 and play Pac-Man.
I know the 2600 port is horrible and a joke in the eyes of most retro gamers, but to me it holds a lot of great memories with my dad. I was roughly five at the time and even then I was beating my dads scores. I can still hear him cursing and going on, but he always rubbed my head and told me “good job son”. On trips to the laundry mat we would drop plenty of quarters into the Pac-Man cocktail cabinet (or table top) as we waited on the clothes to dry. It was also a treat seeing the arcade version as I was so accustomed to the 2600 version.
When I saw Jr. Pac-Man for the first time my head nearly exploded. I was at my cousins house and they had it for some home computer that even today I’m still not sure what it was. All I remember was how different the sprites looked and how colorful it was. Jr. Pac-Man had a spinner hat on and was smaller than Pac-Man. I loved every second I got with the game, and sadly I never got much time with it being as it was my cousins. As I got older I got newer versions of the game including Ms. Pac-Man for the Sega Genesis, numerous Atari collections with the game and the most recent Pac-Man Championship Edition.
There was tons of Pac-Man merchandise during the 80’s. Everywhere you looked it seemed like you saw him. Board games, lunch boxes, cereal, canned pasta, shot glasses…you name it, Pac-Man was on it. He even had his own cartoon which I did watched as a kid but with my old age creeping up on me I can’t recall anything about it. In 1981 the single “Pac-Man Fever” by Buckner and Garcia was released and reached number nine on Billboards Hot 100 by March of 82. Granted I wasn’t born yet but the point is Pac-Man was here to stay.
It has now been thirty years since Pac-Man made his debut and there’s no sign of him going away. There is a new CGI cartoon in the works and merchandise has returned. Just a quick search on the internet will uncover shirts, alarm clocks and toys. I myself have even seen Pac-Man candy dispensers that I snatched up as soon as I saw them. I even tracked down the Pac-Man board game on eBay and a hologram coffee cup. It just goes to show that Pac-Man is here, hes been here and will always be here.