PAC-MAN Fun with Friends

PAC-MAN is a game that just keeps coming back. It’s simple fun that everyone can pick up quickly. PAC-MAN is a very fun game to play but leaves a little to be desired with others around I quickly discovered when I had friends over. While it was funny having my friends make remarks on how I was playing and what I should do I quickly realized we all played the game quite differently. Considering how simple the game was this fascinated me to no end. I preferably enjoyed tackling the stage in a single strand leaving no pellets behind and trying to clear each corner at once. My friends had other strategies such as clearing the inside of dots and then outside or leaving the power pellets for when you really needed them. It was fun as we took turns playing and watching each other play the game differently from each other. We were all having fun and it was fun to see who’s strategy could conquer the most stages. We all knew how to play the game in our own way yet following the same rules and being bound by the same exact controls yet we tackled the game differently. Koster has a wonderful quote on why we were having fun in this situation and goes as follows, “Fun from games arises out of mastery. It arises out of comprehension. It is the act of solving puzzles that make games fun.” (Koster, p.40) As we played the same game we enjoyed it out of our own strategies to get ahead in it. It still wasn’t satisfying to be playing per turns though but one of my friends quickly remedied that by suggesting we play PAC-MAN 256 on Steam.

Two Chaotic games of PAC-MAN 256 Multiplayer

I was amazed to discover that a four player co-op version of PAC-MAN existed. Here’s a few minutes of game play by Youtube channel Stumpt so you can gauge the madness for yourself. This version of PAC-MAN named PAC-MAN 256 was a very modern looking PAC-MAN with different characters to select from and a design that stood up the once 2-D PAC-MAN up right instead. The goal of this PAC-MAN was also slightly different with the intention of you trying to go as far as possible on an endless PAC-MAN grid. I was having a lot more fun in this version of PAC-MAN as my friends and I all played as a unit to get as far as possible. The game now had more power ups compared to the power pellet of old. The game was also brightly colored and had many ghosts of different kinds and past ghosts had been modified to act differently but it was fun either way. Learning each new power up was also a thrill as we unlocked more and more to satisfy our curiosity. We were quickly hooked and played for a long time trying to unlock and figure out the various new items. As Koster says “[…]with games, learning is the drug” (Koster 40) and he is correct.

PAC-MAN has been around for a very long time but has evolved into many different versions of itself. Each one holding a fire to it’s origin but being PAC-MAN no less. PAC-MAN 256 was very fun and played just like PAC-MAN but with a modern twist and it was still fun. It’s amazing to see how far a game that started as a quarter gobbling arcade cabinet has gotten. I had a great experience that I didn’t think I would get from playing PAC-MAN a game that has been around much longer than I have even been alive.

pac-man

Source : Raph Koster (2005). A Theory of Fun for Game Design. Scottsdale

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9 thoughts on “PAC-MAN Fun with Friends

  1. I never knew there was a four player co-op version of Pac Man. That’s pretty cool. I’d want to try that out with my friends. Pac Man is such a classic. I can remember playing it and losing a lot as a child. I kept losing but I kept playing for some reason. My parents must have been annoyed to watch me play a game only to lose again quickly and “waste money”.

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  2. The four player Pac-Man looks awesome! I think it is a wonderful idea to allow the players to choose which type of character you want to be. I think it adds the personal attachment factor to the game. I also like the twist on the game where its not just all about getting every single dot. Instead, you are running away from the 256th level “kill screen.” After watching the video that you embedded into your post, I cannot wait to try the game out with some buddies of mine. Great post!

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  3. I never really knew there were so many different types of Pacman. Especially the multiplayer version of Pacman. I want to try it out now because I want to know how it works. Pacman has always been a single player experience to me so sharing that with someone should be a fun experience.

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    • Multiplayer Pac-Man is honestly one of the weirdest games I never expected to play. I already knew about Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man co op but 4-player Pac-Man is pure chaos. I didn’t know how varied Pac-Man was either though and it was a little hard understanding that Pac-Man is still evolving today into different games. I just always thought of it as, well, just Pac-Man.

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  4. I have a simple question. If you agree with Koster, that fun is about learning and learning is the drug of choice, then why did you like the new version of Pac Man more than the old version? Since they’re dealing with the same puzzles, the same strategies of eating dots, avoiding ghosts, eating power-up and eating ghosts, why did you have “a lot more fun” when you had new power ups, bright colors, and different ghosts?

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    • I believe because I had friends actually playing alongside me. When I played original Pac-Man with my friends each taking turns and watching over each others shoulders, it was still Pac-Man and it can be a very mellow game at times. When we all played together on the newer one though, it was chaos with everyone trying to stay alive yet progress together as a team. There was a greater social aspect and truly a much more interactive feeling with my fellow players.

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