May 21, 2010
30th Anniversary of PAC-MAN
When I was growing up, my dad had the best job I could possibly imagine: he was an arcade game and pinball technician. For me, that meant summer trips through Poland’s coastal cities with their seasonal arcade parlors; peeking inside cabinets to learn programming and engineering secrets; and—of course—free games!
One of my favorites was PAC-MAN, whose popularity transcended the geopolitical barriers of that time. During the heyday of space shooters, Tōru Iwatani’s creation stood out as one of the first video games aimed at a broader audience, with a cute story of pizza-shaped character gobbling dots in a maze, colorful (literally!) characters, friendly design, very little violence and everlasting fun.
Today, on PAC-MAN’s 30th birthday, you can rediscover some of your 8-bit memories—or meet PAC-MAN for the first time—through our first-ever playable Google doodle. To play the game, go to google.com during the next 48 hours (because it’s too cool to keep for just one day) and either press the “Insert Coin” button or just wait for a few seconds.
Google doodler Ryan Germick and I made sure to include PAC-MAN’s original game logic, graphics and sounds, bring back ghosts’ individual personalities, and even recreate original bugs from this 1980’s masterpiece. We also added a little easter egg: if you throw in another coin, Ms. PAC-MAN joins the party and you can play together with someone else (PAC-MAN is controlled with arrow keys or by clicking on the maze, Ms. PAC-MAN using the WASD keys).
PAC-MAN™ & ©1980 NAMCO BANDAI Games Inc.
PAC-MAN seems like a natural fit for the Google homepage. They’re both deceptively straightforward, carefully hiding their complexity under the hood. There’s a light-hearted, human touch to both of them. And we can only hope you find using Google at least a quarter as enjoyable as eating dots and chasing ghosts. You know, without actually needing any quarters.
Posted by Marcin Wichary, senior UX designer and developer