Retro Coin Op Synopsis
One of the earliest (and only) pinball/video game hybrids, Baby Pac-Man put a new spin on the classic Pac-format. The stubby pinball field imbedded beneath a 13-inch video screen made this curious-looking machine a standout in any arcade, and the altered gameplay gave even hardened Pac-Man experts a brand-new challenge.
The game began like any other Pac-variation. There was a small maze on the video screen, and using the joystick control, your job was to guide Baby Pac-Man through the maze, chomping power pellets and avoiding ghosts. But one difference was instantly clear: there were no energizers, those glowing little orbs that let you turn the tables on the ghostly foursome. Those had to be earned down below, on the pinball table.
By escaping down one of the tunnels at the bottom of the screen, Baby Pac-Man entered the pinball world. Here, gameplay functioned like traditional pinball, keeping the ball in play with a pair of flippers. To earn energizers, you either had to hit the right buttons to spell “P-A-C-M-A-N” or hit the “Hoop Loop” at the top of the pinball field. Spelling “F-R-U-I-T-S” would advance the traditional Pac-Man fruit prize to its next highest level (worth more points), and spelling “T-U-N-N-E-L” increased Baby Pac’s speed when he passed through the side tunnels on the video maze.
Unlike traditional pinball, however, Baby Pac-Man was very generous with the second chances. When the ball dropped past your flippers into the murky nothing below, all hope was not yet lost. Baby Pac-Man simply returned to the video screen, where the ghosts were waiting. But mercy came with a price. The tunnels back to pinball land were now closed, forcing Baby Pac either to finish the level or die trying. As a more pleasant alternative, you could return to the video screen without losing your escape tunnels by landing your pinball in a designated saucer.
Every game of Baby Pac-Man began and ended on the video screen (it was the only place you could lose a life), keeping the hybrid offspring in touch with its Pac-roots. The creative design didn’t inspire too many imitators, and the pinball/video game wave turned out to be a tiny one, but this “bouncing bundle of joystick joy” was yet another landmark moment in the history of the arcade’s first true superstar.
Arcade Machine Release History1980 - Pac-Man
1981 - Ms. Pac-Man
1982 - Super Pac-Man
1982 - Pac-Man Plus
1982 - Baby Pac-Man
1983 - Professor Pac-Man
1983 - Jr. Pac-Man
1983 - Pac & Pal
1984 - Pac-Land
1987 - Pac-Mania
1996 - Pac-Man V R
Arcade Game Sub Categoriespuzzle/maze