Retro Coin Op Synopsis

Try to wrap your mind around this one: a video game based on a cartoon based on a video game. This little brainteaser was the story behind Pac-Land, a game unlike any other in the Pac-Man family. Pac-Man, the ghosts, the fruits and the energizers were all there, but Pac-Land took the yellow orb out of the power pellet maze and into a side-scrolling world of adventure.

In the new game, Pac-Man was no longer a featureless yellow chomping machine—he had arms, legs, eyes, a nose and even clothing. This was part of a pattern throughout the game. The simple graphics of the original Pac-Man games had been replaced with a cartoony look, one more in harmony with Hanna-Barbera’s Pac-Man Saturday morning cartoon series (the Japanese version of Pac-Land was a bit less friendly-looking, but still more cartoony than his arcade forebear).

Pac-Man’s mission was to venture out of Pac-Land and through several harsh environments on his way to Fairyland. Inky, Blinky, Pinky, Clyde and Sue were all on hand to spoil our hero’s journey, riding everything from a pogo stick to a town car to a flying saucer. But as always, Pac could temporarily turn the tables on his ghostly foes by chomping an energizer.

The many levels of Pac-Land had more dangers than mere ghosts, however. Obstacles had to be jumped, cacti had to be scaled, ponds had to be crossed via springboard, chasms had to be navigated on tricky log bridges, and so on. And once Pac finally did reach Fairyland, he still had to get back home to his wife, baby and pets.

This time, though, the yellow guy had an edge. One of the fairies came along for the ride inside his hat, and out of gratitude for his services, the enchanted little being gave Pac a pair of high-jumping magic boots.

Pac-Land was a definite change of pace for the franchise, but the video game market in 1984 wasn’t exactly fertile ground for new ideas. The great mid-80’s video game crash helped turn Pac-Land into a stateside disappointment, but the game was still a major hit in Japan. More importantly to the future of video games, Pac-Land helped popularize the idea of a side-scrolling adventure, leading to the creation of the legendary Super Mario Bros. in 1986. Even in semi-failure, the Pac-Man series was a true trailblazer.

Arcade Machine Release History

1980 - 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

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Machine Manufacturer

Namco, Bally Midway

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