There are endless debates in life about basically any topic you can imagine. Politicians debate items such as climate change, war, the economy and etceteras. You debate the type of food you should eat when out with friends, what type of car to drive before you buy one, the greatest sports team in history and perhaps most importantly, what is the greatest video game of all time?
If you are having a conversation about the greatest video games of all time then Pac-Man needs to be in the conversation at or near the very top. Pac-Man transformed the video game industry when it was launched in 1981 and quickly became the highest selling video game of all-time. Pac-Man was an easy game to learn with a simple goal: eat all the dots without being caught by the ghosts and rack up as many points as possible.
For anyone who might have been living in hiding for the past 28 years or is under the age of 13 hooked on Playstation 3/Xbox 360 and has never seen the game, be sure to ‘Google it’ and/or download a playable version of the game. Once you have started playing, you will be hooked for awhile so plan on not going anywhere within a couple of hours.
There are a number of strategies one can employ when playing Pac-Man and it involves how you dodge the ghosts, eat the dots, fruit and the ghosts. One strategy is to eat as many dots and fruit that appear as you can without trying to eat the ghosts until the end, as the fruit ends up being worth a lot of points the further in the game you progress.
This strategy assumes that you will need good dodging techniques to stay away from the ghosts, particularly in later levels when they become faster. In order to fully execute this strategy you have to understand the maze and how best to use it to escape the ghosts. The space on both sides of the screen that allow you to pass from one side to another is great for dodging ghosts, as they slow down when chasing you in there. In later rounds, however, you might find that one ghost will chase you from one side while another enters from the other side and traps you. Similarly, you can run into this trap with any of the corners on the map, so it is best to get all the dots in the long stretches early (or in between eating pellets which turns the ghosts blue and they stop chasing you).
The other strategy you can take is to eat as many dots as you can and then lure the ghosts into corners with you to take advantage. You can do this by waiting until the last second they are near you, eating the pellet and then chasing them down to get the points by eating them. This strategy is higher risk because not all ghosts might be nearby and by chasing them down, you are running out of time available to eat dots and progress to the next level.
Whichever strategy you employ, be it the aforementioned ones or simply running around eating everything to enjoy the game without a strategy, this game comes with it many memories of family and friends playing for hours. The beauty of this as well as many other early games is that you can play it over and over again trying to beat the top score, make it to higher levels in the game or just enjoy yourself in general.
There are many different things that help to define a generation or a decade, chief among them global events and popular culture references. The 1960s and 70s were defined by the Vietnam War, Woodstock, Watergate, and many other events. The 1980s were defined by, in part, popular culture references such as the advent of rock, “big hair” (watch any music video/movie/TV show from the 80s and you will see the women with big hair) and arcade games.
Going to the arcade and playing arcade games was a popular destination for kids in the 1980s. Arcades helped to spark the beginning of a gaming culture and gaming revolution that has evolved into the modern era, and will continue to evolve for the foreseeable future. Much to the dismay of parents’ wallets everywhere, arcade games were immensely popular and kids would spend hours playing them.
The most popular arcade games of all time, in no particular order, are: Asteroids, Centipede, Donkey Kong, Frogger, Pac-Man, Space Invaders and Pole Position. An argument could be made for each of these games that they are the best arcade game of all time, although I must say my personal favourite was Space Invaders. Space Invaders was a very simple game; no matter how much it cost me (my parents, really!), I was going to have the top score in that game.
Space Invaders is a simple shooting game where there are aliens moving from the top to the bottom of the screen chasing after you, and your job is to shoot them before they arrive. Centipede was a very similar game, the only exception being once the centipedes reached the bottom of the screen they could turn around, head back up the screen and then come back down after you. This introduced another dimension to the game as you now had to worry about enemies falling down on you and climbing up at the same time.
Frogger was a classic game where the goal was to simply not be run over while crossing the street. In Donkey Kong, your goal was to rescue a damsel in distress while avoiding barrels being tossed at you. The goal of Pac-Man was to eat as many dots as possible for points while avoiding ghosts, and Asteroids was all about scoring high points through shooting flying objects. Finally, Pole Position was one of the first games where you could sit inside and drive a car as if you were driving a real one, only at high speeds with points as your reward!
All of these games were the foundation for what we are seeing in video gaming today. All of the developments in video games would never have happened if there was not as much interest in them from millions of people. This interest can be traced all the way back to the early days of these arcade games and the excitement that was generated with each new release of the games.
So which were your favourite games and what was your top score?