13 Features

Retro Vault: Pac-Man, Dragon's Lair, Sonic Adventure

Plus: Jet Set Willy and Kid Chameleon

Retro Vault is our regular weekly feature in which we dive into gaming's past and share five classic nuggets of retro nostalgia. If you want to catch up on previous Retro Vaults, check out the CVG Retro Vault archive.


May 1980 - Pac-Man Japanese arcade flyer

What can you say about Pac-Man (or indeed Puck-Man) that hasn't already been said? Second only to Mario - some would say first - in the video game familiarity stakes. When most non-gamers think of this glorious hobby of ours it's still Pac-Man they picture.

The story of Pac-Man's creation is now legendary. Designer Toru Iwatani, while struggling to come up with an idea for the character of his maze game, went to a restaurant and ordered pizza. After removing a slice, there was his new hero staring back at him.

Released in Japan on May 22, 1980, Puck-Man became a massive success - not just among the male teenage gamers who frequented arcades, but among women too. Iwatani's game was the first to truly appeal to both genders - he would later controversially claim this was because men like the thrill of evading the ghosts, whereas women like eating.

Later that year, Midway signed a deal to distribute Puck-Man in the US, albeit with one fairly obvious change. Because of the American youth's fondness for scribbling on things with marker pens, and because a single line can easily change a P into an F, it was decided that the game should be renamed Pac-Man, since Fac-Man isn't quite as offensive.

Naturally, you know what happened next. Pac-Man became an enormous global success, with cabinets popping up not just in arcades but in every business looking to make a few extra bucks (it was even reported that a funeral home somewhere in America had one).

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