This Day in Video Game History – May 22nd, 1980 – Pac-Man Arcade Game Released in Japan

By: Sean Sporman
By: Sean Sporman

The concept was simple—eat the pellets, avoid the ghosts, clear the level. But, this simple concept propelled an arcade game that launched on this day in history to be one of the most successful games of all-time.

Pac-Man, or as it was originally known in Japan, Puck-Man, was released by Namco in its home country on May 22nd, 1980 to arcades. The player controlled the titular character through a maze, avoiding a quartet of ghosts. The goal—eat all of the pellets in the maze while not being touched by the ghost. Power pellets, placed in corners of the stage, allowed players to “eat” the ghosts and help to achieve the goal.

The game was historic for many reasons: the first maze game, one of the first games with cutscenes, the first use of a mascot character for games, one of the first games to appeal to large number of women, and even the first game to use power-ups!

Initially not expected to see much success, Pac-Man exploded in popularity when it was released in the United States later in the year of 1980.

Numerous sequels would come out, as well as animated series and even a song called Pac-Man Fever that made it to number nine on the Billboard Music Charts!

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