Lost In Translation/Puckman

From ExoticA
Puckman marquee.
Puckman title screen.
Puckman control panel.
Manufacturer Namco
Released 1980
4-way Joystick
Main CPU Z80 (@ 3.072 MHz)
Sound CPU Mono
Namco (@ 96.000 kHz)
Raster (Vertical)
288 x 224 pixels
60.61 Hz
512 Palette colours
Screens 1
ROM Info 10 ROMs
25,376 bytes (24.78 KiB)
MAME ID puckman · abscam · ctrpllrp · hangly · hangly2 · hangly3 · joyman · newpuc2 · newpuc2b · newpuckx · pacheart · pacman · pacmanbl · pacmanf · pacmod · piranha · piranhah · piranhao · puckmana · puckmanf · puckmanh · puckmod
Pac-Man (arcade) Pac-Man sprite.png

Puckman is the original name of the seminal and hugely influential maze-based arcade video game that went on to become more commonly known as Pac-Man.

The player guides the legendary Puckman around a single-screen maze eating dots. Puckman is constantly pursued in his task by four ghosts - Akabei (red), Pinky (pink), Aosuke (blue), and Guzuta (orange). Each ghost has its own unique personality and behavioural patterns and a single touch from any of the ghosts results in Puckman losing a life.

Four 'Power Pills' are situated in each corner of the rectangular mazes and eating one of these makes Puckman temporarily invincible; the four ghosts also change to dark blue in colour and can now be eaten by Puckman. These 'Skinned' ghosts, now visible as a pair of eyes only, will then return to the den in the middle of the maze, regenerate into their former selves, and return to the maze to continue their pursuit of Puckman.

Each maze contains 240 dots and 4 Power Pills, and all must be eaten to complete the level; whereupon the entire sequence begins again with an increased level of difficulty.

Twice in every level, a bonus fruit or prize item will temporarily appear in the middle of the maze below the ghosts' den. Puckman can eat these bonus items to receive extra points. Also, there is an escape tunnel on the left and right hand side of the maze that Puckman can use to escape any ghosts that are currently closing in on him. The ghosts can also use the tunnel, but take longer to pass through it than Puckman, making escape a little easier.

Between certain rounds, funny intermissions will be played featuring Puckman and the ghosts in funny situations. 3 intermissions are present :

  1. Akabei chases Puckman across the screen and off the side. Then he re-appears running in the opposite direction, in his vulnerable form, followed by a giant Puckman! This intermission is played after Round 2.
  2. Akabei is again chasing Puckman, but this time he rips his red sheet on a nail on the ground, and we can see his pink body under the sheet! This intermission is played after Round 5.
  3. Akabei chases Puckman across the screen once more, this time with his sheet sewn. They disappear at the left side and then Akabei reappears coming back the opposite direction. This time he is bare and drags his sheet behind him. This intermission is played after Round 9, 13 and 17.

No intermission is present between rounds after the 18th one.


Though it's original release name was Puckman, it more commonly known "Pac-Man".

Puckman was first introduced to the Japanese arcade market in May 1980. The voracious little critter caught the hearts and imaginations of the public like no other game before it, and few since. It is still regarded as the hallmark of the 'golden age' of video games.

Tōru Iwatani, author of Puckman : Puckman's character is difficult to explain even to the Japanese -- he is an innocent character. He hasn't been educated to discern between good and evil. He acts more like a small child than a grown-up person. Think of him as a child learning in the course of his daily activities. If someone tells him guns are evil, he would be the type to rush out and eat guns. But he would most probably eat any gun, even the pistols of policemen who need them.

The name Puckman (later changed to Pac-Man) comes from a Japanese slang term 'paku-paku', which describes the motion of the mouth opening and closing during eating and translates in English as 'to eat'.

Puckman was, quite literally, conceived at lunchtime. The game's designer, the then twenty-six year old Toru Iwatani, was very hungry and ordered himself a pizza for lunch. He took one slice, and, looking at the rest of the pizza, Puckman was born. However, in later years Iwatani has suggested the shape was based on the Japanese character 'kuchi', meaning mouth. He rounded off this shape, and created the classic shape. The game took 1 1/2 years to complete and had five people on its team. Puckman is the greatest selling arcade game of all time and is arguably also the world's most recognized video-game character of all time. It had its own cartoon, lunch box, board game, stickers and hundreds of other products. This was largely due to Puckman being the first truly distinctive video-game 'character', and it changed the face of video games forever. Puckman was the first video game to be as equally popular to women as it was with men.

After the 255th level, Puckman presents the player with the infamous 'split-screen' level, where the left-half of the screen is normal, but the right-half of the screen is garbled with a mess of letters, numbers, symbols and other graphics. This level cannot be completed.

The alien spaceship "Galaxian" makes an appearance as the prize in the 9th and 10th boards.

Note : Excluding bootlegs, there are 23 different name/nickname combinations for the ghosts in "Pac-Man" (27 including 'Sue' from "Ms. Pac-Man", 'Tim' from "Jr. Pac-Man", and 'Funky' and 'Spunky', both from "Pac-Mania").


The original Puckman was available in two different cabinets from Namco, an upright and a cocktail. There were also alternate cabinets produced by Hanly, Kenphone Electronics, Karateco, NSM Play, Bell Fruit MFG, and several bootleg game manufacturers:

  • Namco Upright - The original Namco upright version came in a white cabinet that may look familiar to most gamers. This cabinet is the same 'swoopy' design used for "Pac-Man" and "Galaxian". The only actual design difference was the coin door. Puckman had a tall coin door with a single coin mech, while "Pac-Man" had a fat coin door with two coin mechs installed. However, the graphics on the machine were completely different. The marquee had the 'Puckman' logo off to the side at an angle, and showed a scene with half a dozen cartoon Puckmen eating power pellets, with a few ghosts lingering off to the side. The monitor bezel was largely red and was of a circular design and had many Puckmen lounging around the perimeter of the circle. The control panel continued the reddish graphics and had instructions in Japanese, along with a yellow ball-top 4-Way joystick and start buttons for each player. The sideart was a large circular sticker that advertised the game's name, and had many cartoon Puckmen in action around the edges of the circle, with the word Namco displayed prominently at the bottom. The cabinet was finished off with yellow t-molding on the edges.
  • Namco Cocktail - The Namco Cocktail was a table style unit and had almost no decorations at all, merely an instruction card underneath the glass, and some pictures on the control panel. There seems to be several different versions of the control panel graphics, but most of them show cartoon Puckmen on them. This table is not the same design as the "Pac-Man" cocktail, in fact it appears to use an almost identical design to Sega's "Carnival" including the strange coin mechs (it is very possible that they were the same cabinet, as many game makers bought their cocktail cabinets from third parties, and then simply installed the games into them).
  • Kenphone Electronics Upright - Kenphone actually produced a better looking Puckman than Namco did. They used their own sturdy cabinet design, and featured painted sideart of Puckman singing into a 50s style microphone. The rest of the graphics scheme was predominantly dark blue, and the marquee simply bore a centered Puckman logo. This cabinet was of a better design than Namco's, and these machines tend to be in better condition than real Namco units.
  • Hanly Cocktail - Hanly made a few cocktail units that were identical to the Namco cocktail in design, but had all their instructions in english, and have the word 'Hanly' substitued for 'Namco' everywhere on the machine.
  • Bell Fruit MFG Upright - The Bell Fruit upright was available only in the United Kingdom. This was Bell Fruit's standard mini arcade cabinet with a simple Puckman marquee that featured a few small ghosts and some images of cherries. The monitor bezel was similar to the circular design on the original Namco version, but all the pictures of the Puckmen were different, and all the instructions were in English. This machine had no sideart and the control panel was unadorned.
  • NSM Play Upright - The NSM upright was sold only in Germany. At a glance it looks fairly similar to the Namco upright, but if you look a bit closer you can see that all the decorations on the machine are of low quality, and it comes off looking like a cheap bootleg, even though it was an official Namco licensed version. The instructions on these machines are usually in German.
  • Bootlegs/hacks Upright - This final version is a complete fake, but there are a lot of them. They seem to use converted Namco cabinets, painted white, and are decorated with very strange looking sideart that shows Puckmen and ghosts that look nothing like the ones on any other Puckman/"Pac-Man" products (since when has Puckman had green frogs legs?). The marquee has an odd Puckman logo in yellow and orange, along with a picture of the blue ghost and the strange 'frog legged' Puckman.

A Bootleg of this game is called "Ghostmuncher". Some hacks are known as "New Puck X", "Newpuc2" and "Joyman".


The monsters have names and nicknames which were, in "Pac-Man" : Shadow (Blinky), Speedy (Pinky), Bashful (Inky), and Pokey (Clyde). They are red, pink, blue, and orange in colour, respectively. In the original Puckman, these monsters were named Oikake (Akabei), Machibuse (Pinky), Kimagure (Aosuke), and Otoboke (Guzuta). Puckman also had a DIP switch for alternate ghost names : Urchin (Macky), Romp (Micky), Stylist (Mucky), and Crybaby (Mocky).


Item Points
Dot 10
Power pill (energizer) 50
Ghosts 200, 400, 800 & 1,600
Cherry 100
Strawberry 300
Peach 500
Apple 700
Pineapple 1,000
Galaxian 2,000
Bell 3,000
Key 5,000

Tips and tricks

  • An extra life is awarded at 10,000 points (You can change this value with the dip switches).
  • Fruits appear twice on each board. The first fruit appears after Puckman has eaten 70 dots; the second fruit appears after 170 dots have been eaten by Puckman.
  • At the beginning of a round, the ghosts won't immediately pursue Puckman. Use this time the best as you can.
  • Puckman can turn corners faster than the ghosts can, so turning many corners can help you escape ghosts.
  • The tunnel allows Puckman and the ghosts to instantly travel from one side of the maze to the other. While traveling through the maze, Puckman moves at normal speed, but the ghosts' speed is reduced in half. This provides Puckman with a good opportunity to put some distance between him and his pursuers, but be careful not to get trapped by another ghost entering the opposite side.
  • If you hold the joystick in a direction that is blocked by a wall, Puckman will turn in that direction as soon as he reaches a passage leading in that direction. Remember this to turn corners as fast as you can.
  • Remember that eating dots will slow Puckman a little bit: avoid parts of the maze in which you've not been yet if you are trying to escape ghosts!
  • Mind that, as the levels increases, the ghost speed increases as well!
  • In later rounds, you're not going to be able to eat ghosts after eating an energizer, because the vulnerability time decreases to zero. This is when you need to learn how to avoid the ghosts understanding their movement and their moving patterns!
  • Right above the ghost den, there are two paths leading upward to upper part of the maze. The ghosts never travel upward through these holes while they're in their dangerous forms; they only do while they're vulnerable after Pac-Man has eaten an energizer! Indeed, they only exit the area around the den from the sides or the bottom. These are not completely safe corners, since ghosts can travel downward through them, anyway they often represents a safe passage to flee from ghosts pursuing you around the den.

Ghosts' Movements

First of all, remember that ghosts are not always following you! Their movements follow two distinct phases: one in which they avoid Puckman and one in which they hunt him down. In the former phase, each ghost patrols his personal corner of the maze. In the latter one, they will try to find Puckman, following their personal 'behavior'. Namely :

Pac-Man (arcade) Blinky sprite.png
Akabei / Blinky
(Red ghost)
He tends to patrol the top-right corner of the maze and he follows Puckman always trying to minimize their respective distance.
Pac-Man (arcade) Pinky sprite.png
(Pink ghost)
He tends to patrol the top-left corner of the maze and he follows Puckman trying to reach a position slightly in front of Puckman, in the direction he's moving.
Pac-Man (arcade) Clyde sprite.png
Guzuta / Clyde
(Orange ghost)
He tends to patrol the bottom-left corner of the maze and he only tries to be close to Puckman, without hunting him directly.
Pac-Man (arcade) Inky sprite.png
Aisuke / Inky
(Cyan ghost)
He tends to patrol the bottom-right corner of the maze and he has the most complicated AI since he moves towards a point determined by both Puckman's position and Akabei's position.

Ghosts alternate these two different behaviors (hiding and hunting) a few times in each round, then they start to pursue Puckman restlessly until all the dots are eaten, or they manage to catch him.

Additionally, as soon as a certain number of dots has been cleared from the maze (this number decreases as the levels pass), Akabei's speed will increase and he won't stop to search for Puckman anymore.


  1. Puckman (1980)
  2. Ms. Pac-Man (1981)
  3. Super Pac-Man (1982)
  4. Pac-Man Plus (1982)
  5. Jr. Pac-Man (1983)
  6. Pac & Pal (1983)
  7. Pac-Land (1984)
  8. Pac-Mania (1987)
  9. Pac-In-Time (1994, Nintendo Super Famicom)
  10. Pac-Man 2 - The New Adventures (1994, Nintendo Super Famicom and Sega Mega Drive)
  11. Pac-Man VR (1996)
  12. Pac-Man World (1999, Sony PlayStation)
  13. Pac-Man - Adventures in Time (2000, PC CD-ROM)
  14. Ms. Pac-Man Maze Madness (2000, Sony PlayStation)
  15. Ms. Pac-Man - Quest for the Golden Maze (2001, PC CD-ROM)
  16. Pac-Man All-Stars (2002, PC CD-ROM)
  17. Pac-Man Fever (2002, Sony PlayStation 2)
  18. Pac-Man World 2 (2002, Sony PlayStation 2, Nintendo GameCube, and Microsoft XBOX; 2004, PC CD-ROM)
  19. Pac-Man vs. (2003, Nintendo GameCube)
  20. Ms. Pac-Man - Maze Madness (2004, Nintendo GameBoy Advance)
  21. Pac-Man World 3 (2005, Sony PSP, Sony PlayStation 2, Nintendo GameCube, Microsoft XBOX, PC CD-ROM, and Nintendo DS)
  22. Pac'n Roll (2005, Nintendo DS)
  23. Pac-Pix (2005, Nintendo DS)


Designed By
Tōru Iwatani
Programmed By
Hideyuki Mokajima
Music & Sound By
Toshio Kai

Cabinet and Artwork


Bally Astrocade ("Muncher")
Atari 2600 (1981)
Atari 5200 (1982)
Colecovision (1983)
Mattel Intellivision (1983)
Emerson Arcadia ("Gobbler")
Atari XEGS
Nintendo Famicom (1987)
Nintendo Famicom Disk (1990)
Sega Game Gear (1990)
SNK Neo-Geo Pocket (1990)
Nintendo Game Boy (1991)
Sony PlayStation (1995, "Namco Museum Vol.1")
Nintendo Game Boy Color (1999, "Pac-Man - Special Color Edition")
Nintendo 64 (1999, "Namco Museum 64")
Sega Dreamcast (1999, "Namco Museum")
Nintendo Game Boy Advance (2001, "Pac-Man Collection")
Sony PlayStation 2 (2001, "Namco Museum")
Nintendo GameCube (2002, "Namco Museum")
Microsoft XBOX (2002, "Namco Museum")
Nintendo Game Boy Advance (2004, Famicom Mini Series)
Sony PlayStation 2 (2005, "Namco Museum 50th Anniversary")
Microsoft XBOX (2005, "Namco Museum 50th Anniversary")
Nintendo GameCube (2005, "Namco Museum 50th Anniversary")
Nintendo Game Boy Advance (2005, "Namco Museum 50th Anniversary")
Sony PSP (2005, "Namco Museum Battle Collection")
Microsoft XBOX 360 (2006, as a downloadable Live Arcade game)
Exidy Sorcerer (1981, "Chomp")
Tandy Color Computer (1981, "Pac-Tac")
Tandy Color Computer (1982, "Ghost Gobbler")
Tandy Color Computer (1982, "Pack Maze")
Atari 400 (1982)
Atari 800 (1982)
PC [Booter] (1982, "PC-Man)
Commodore VIC-20 (1982)
BBC B (1982, Acornsoft) (Renamed "Snapper" after Acornsoft was sued)
Commodore C64 (1983)
Tandy Color Computer (1983, "Pac-Tac II")
Tandy Color Computer (1983, "Pac Jaws")
PC [Booter] (1983)
PC [Booter] (1983, "Ascii Man", a part of the "Friendlyware PC Arcade" suite)
PC [MS-DOS] (1983)
Texas Instruments TI-99/4A (1983)
Fujitsu FM-7 (1984)
Acorn Electron (1984, "Snapper")
MSX (1984)
Amstrad CPC (1985)
Thomson TO8 (1986, "Compilation Contacthoms")
Atari ST (1986, "Spook - Mighty Munchers")
Tandy Color Computer (1990, "Pac-Dude")
Apple Macintosh (1992, "Mac-Man")
PC [MS Windows 95] (1995, "Mac-Man", part of "Windows Arcade Pack")
PC [MS Windows 95, 3.5"](1995, "Microsoft Return of Arcade")
Tandy Color Computer 3 (1997)
PC [MS-DOS] (1997, "ChampPac-Em" - CHAMProgramming)
PC [MS Windows, CD-ROM] (2000, "Microsoft Return of Arcade 20th Anniversary")
PC [MS Windows, CD-ROM] (2005, "Namco Museum 50th Anniversary")
Sinclair ZX Spectrum ("Pac-Man", 1984, Atarisoft)
Apple II
Sharp X68000
VFD portable game (1980, "Pac-Man 2", called Pac Man 2 because it allowed two people to play at once) by Entex.
VFD portable game (1980, "Hungry Pac", Japanese release only) by Entex.
VFD handheld game (1981) by Coleco.
LCD flip-type handheld game (1984) by Tiger (Released overseas by Orlitronic).
LCD large screen handheld game (1984) by Tiger (Released overseas by Orlitronic).
LCD handheld game (1992) released by MGA (Micro Games of America).
Arcade (1996, "Namco Classics Collection Vol.2")
LCD handheld color game (1999) released by MGA (Micro Games of America).
Mobile Phones (2003)
Namco Classics TV game (2003 - Jakks Pacific).
Super Pac-Man TV game (2006 - Jakks Pacific).
Apple I Pod (2006)

Soundtrack Releases

Album Name Catalogue No. Released Publisher Comments
Video Game Music YLR-20003[1] 1984-04-25 Alfa Vinyl version.
The Best of Video Game Music 32XA-66[2] 1986-04-25 Alfa CD version.
This is NAMCO! APCG-4006[3] 1990-09-21 Apollon CD version.
Namcot Game a la Mode VDR-1285[4] 1986-09-21 Victor Musical Industries CD version.
Video Game Music YLC-20003[5] 1984-04-25 Alfa Cassette version.
Video Game Music SCDC-00003[6] 2001-03-23 Scitron Digital Content, Inc. CD version.
Namcot Game a la Mode SJX-30312[7] 1986-09-21 Victor Musical Industries Vinyl version.
Namcot Game a la Mode VCH-10365[8] 1986-09-21 Victor Musical Industries Cassette version.
765 MEGA-MIX APCG-4014[9] 1991-07-21 APOLLON CD version.
NAMCO Classic Collection Techno Maniax PCCG-00440[10] 1998-02-18 Pony Canyon, Inc. CD version.
Pac-Man Fever CBS A2055[11] 1982-01-01 CBS Inc. Vinyl version.
Pac-Man Christmas Album KSS-5029[12] 1982-01-01 Kid Stuff Records Vinyl version.
The Amazing Adventures of PAC-MAN KSS-5023[13] 1980-01-01 Kid Stuff Records & Tapes Vinyl version.
Namco Classics Collection Vol. 2 Arcade Soundtrack 012 WSCA-00012[14] 1998-02-18 Wonder Spirits CD version.
Pac-Man Fever (Single) BGO-1001[15] 1981-01-01 BGO Records Vinyl version.
Puc-Man Fever N/A[16] 1982-01-01 CBS/Sony CD version.
Pac-Man Fever (Club Version) 44-02762[17] 1981-01-01 Columbia / CBS Vinyl version.
Pac-Man: Run For Fun KSR-995[18] 1980-01-01 Kid Stuff Vinyl version.
The Pac-Man Album KPD-6012[19] 1982-01-01 Kid Stuff Vinyl version.
Pac-Man Fever N/A[20] 1999-06-01 bucknergarcia.com / K-tel CD version.
Pac-Man Fever (Single, Special Limited Edition) C99 02945[21] 1982-01-01 Columbia Records Vinyl version.
Famison 8BIT - iDOLM@STER 01 Yayoi Takutsuki / Ami & Mami Futami FVCG-1011[22] 2008-03-25 5bp. Records CD version.
Super Famicom Magazine Volume 22 - New Game Sound Museum TIM-SFC22[23] 1994-09-01 Tokuma Shoten Publishing CD version.
Arcade Ambiance 1981 N/A[24] 2002-01-01 Andy Hofle Digital download only.
Game Sound Museum ~Namcot~ 01 Galaxian / Galaga / Pac-Man SDEX-0040[25] 2004-12-23 Scitron CD version.
Pac-Man Fever (Single) 18-02673[26] 1981-01-01 Columbia / CBS Vinyl version.
Pac-Man Fever / Do The Donkey Kong 13-03865[27] 1982-04-01 Columbia / CBS Vinyl version.
PAC-MAN Game Sound Effects N/A[28] 2009-09-01 Namco Bandai Digital download only.

Sound Comparison

Platform Song Titles Sound Source
Arcade "Game Start" "Intermission" "Death" MAME 0.125

External Links


The contents of this page are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.
The sources used include MAME (version 0.113u2) and history.dat (revision 1.28 - 2008-10-18).
Please see http://www.arcade-history.com for credits.