90s Music Videos | Retro Games

Namco 1980

In 1980, Namco game designer Moru Iwatani is tired of the glut of shoot-em-ups littering the arcades. He wants to create an arcade game that looks more like a cartoon than a videogame, and appeals to women as well as men.

His original design calls for an animated pizza with a missing wedge for a mouth running around a maze eating everything in sight. Technological restraints at the time, however, require a graphics scale-back to a simple, solid yellow circle. The large wedge of a mouth does remain, though, and the character and game is christened Puckman, from the Japanese phrase pakupaku, meaning to flap one's mouth open and close. Later changed to Pac-Man in order to discourage vandals from replacing the P with an F. The game is an absolute smash in Japan, following Space Invader's lead in causing another Yen shortage nation-wide as tens of thousands of Puckman machines start gobbling them up.

The game goes on to become the most popular arcade game of all time, selling 100,000 units in America alone (along with countless unauthorised clones), breaking the previous 70,000 sales record set by Atari's Asteroids. In fact, it was the first videogame to spawn a massive merchandising bonanza, it was also the first videogame to become so totally ingrained into popular culture, appearing on both the cover of Time and Mad magazine.