Planned and designed by Toru Iwatani, Pac-Man is without doubt one of the most iconic video games of all time. Obviously, Mario and Sonic are universally known to gamers and non-gamers alike, but I would argue that the aliens from Space Invaders and the Pac-Man character are more recognisable. I would also personally say out of those two that Pac-Man has more personality and stands out the most.

It’s no surprise, therefore, that he has appeared in multiple games over the years and is still going strong. Let’s take a look at some of his key titles. This is not an exhaustive list and doesn’t contain every port and home console variation, but it does highlight most of the arcade titles plus a couple of extra home versions and clones. See below how Pac-Man has stayed in our gaming minds all these years.

Pac-Man (1980)
Obviously the first and, in many people’s eyes, the best Pac-Man game. A true classic of the golden age of gaming, published by Namco. The gameplay attracted more women than most other arcade games of the time, the characters are iconic, and the sound effects instantly recognisable. Pac-Man was first released in Japan on May 22, 1980 before following in the US in October 1980.

Ms Pac-Man (1981)
I always hear the details differently, but I believe that Ms Pac-Man didn’t actually start as an official Pac-Man sequel. Instead, it was made by a third party company who originally branded it Crazy Otto. It was later sold to Midway, initially without the approval of Namco. But despite this non-official beginning, many consider this to be a superior game. Ms Pac-Man always reminds me of its appearance in that episode of Friends where Chandler develops ‘the claw’, otherwise known as arcade hand.

There’s a speedup hack version of this game that I actually much prefer. Just a bit of a warning – it’s quite hard to go back to the original once you’ve played this version for a while! Ms. Pac-Man is considered by some to have de-throned Pac-Man in popularity.

Munch Man (1982)
This is the only Pac-Man clone I’m including on the list. Mainly because it was one of the first chances that people had to play Pac-Man within their own homes. It was obvious that it was modelled on Pac-Man. Not only was the gameplay nearly identical but the device itself looked like a big yellow Pac-Man.

Other Arcade Sequels (1982-83)
I won’t go into the details of each of these as they are all fairly similar and essentially just further expansions on the same theme. To have four Pac-Man games released in two years really shows the popularity of the character in the early 80s.

Baby Pac-Man (1982)
This is a pretty cool one. The first video game / pinball hybrid game that was published by Bally / Midway, again apparently without the approval of Namco. A nice idea to combine two gaming genres together.

Professor Pac-Man (1983)
This one really was a change from the norm, as it pretty much just used the character of Pac-Man in a very different genre. The gameplay was totally different, moving in the direction of a quiz arcade game, which is pretty rare. Another publication by Bally Midway that yep, you guessed it, was without authorisation from Namco.

Pac-Land (1984)
Another game that took a considerable detour, as the plan was clearly to try and get involved in the burgeoning platform of right-scrolling game genres. The funny thing about this game is that I always thought it was really boring and slow. I thought it was just for young kids. And I’m not alone here. I know several other people who thought the same thing, but we all apparently just weren’t aware of the controls…

If you double tap the right button (or joystick on some versions), he starts running and the game really speeds up! I had never played this game back in the day but I was still quite embarrassed when I found that out. I’m just glad I wasn’t alone, and I soon found out why some people love this game. It’s cute, addictive and also has some extremely cool hidden features. It has a lot more depth than you might initially think.

Pac-Mania (1987)
This game kind of goes back to Pac-Man’s roots, but with a twist! It’s in a pseudo 3D view and some of the gameplay is tweaked, such as Pac-Man having the ability to jump over ghosts. I remember this game from my 16-bit Atari ST days. I often hear some people slagging this game off, but others absolutely love it.

Pac-Man VR (1996)
I missed out on this when it came out, but I’m going to have to look into it. A Pac-Man virtual reality game! To be honest, it looks pretty horrific, and with VR frame rates from 1996 it probably wasn’t the most pleasant experience. Well done to them for trying though, I guess.

Pac-Man into the record books (2005)
In 2005, Pac-Man received the Guinness World Records award for being the “Most Successful Coin-Operated Game”

Pac-Man Championship Edition (2007)
A nice reinvention of the original game with a mix of classic and new gameplay, such as having the screens split into two halves. This game heralded other successful sequels that have appeared in arcades every few years since.

Pac-Man Battle Royale (2011)
This is probably the one that has become the most mainstream Pac-Man game of recent years. I’ve walked into many an arcade to see people running over to this machine saying “Oh my god, look at that huge multiplayer Pac-Man game”. It was a cool way to reinvigorate the Pac-Man franchise and it seems to have been a big success. I enjoy playing it, despite thinking that the multiplayer balance could be tweaked slightly.

Pac-Man Chomp Mania (2013)
I’ve not played this one but it seems to pretty much be a standard, classic Pac-Man that lets you win tickets for redemption. Sounds pretty cool and it’s good to see Pac-Man adjusting to today’s trends.

World’s Largest Pac-Man (2015)
I played this on a family holiday in Butlins. It is indeed pretty large, a lot of fun – particularly having the screen so big – and also great to see Pac-Man still standing pride of place in many arcades. It’s perfect for younger generations to enjoy the original gameplay.

Pac-Man Wild Edition (2017)

Pac-Man arrives on casino floors as the first offering of a strategic partnership between Ainsworth and BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Inc. This fun slot machine mixes the popularity of Pac-Man with casino entertainment perfectly. It does this by staying true to the original game’s theme (with the much-loved characters as symbols) but also included fan-favourite casino slot mechanics (such as the free games feature).

As well as popping up in land-based casinos, Pac-Man Wild Edition™ is also set to become a popular new game at many online casinos. Of course, this isn’t my natural area, but you can visit Casino Professor which is a site that specialises in comparing online casinos. You can use them to select new online casinos that have the latest game releases available from the biggest providers.

Pac-Man Battle Casino (2018)
Obviously, the original generation of Pac-Man lovers have all grown up now, so those players can incorporate Pac-Man into more adult-oriented games. The case in point is this Pac-Man Battle Casino that looks pretty cool. Not only do you have the adrenalin of a multiple Pac-Man game, but you also have the chance to win real money – not just redemption tickets. I might need to brush up on my skills before attempting this one, though!

Pac-Man: The Board Game (2019)

Pac-Man’s legacy is so strong that it’s also transcended into other games that don’t require buttons to press or levers to pull (whether physical or virtual). That’s because 2019 saw the release of Pac-Man: The Board Game as a 2-5 player adventure which is both a collaborative and competitive affair. 

Everyone takes a turn to be Pac-Man, where the aim of the game is like all the rest  – to collect as many points as possible. However, the other players don’t just take a time out, as they don the disguise of Blinky, Pinky, Inky, and Clyde – the infamous game-spoiling ghosts – to try and catch the player in the hot seat and restrict their overall points total. Whoever ends up with the most points wins, naturally.

Again, board games aren’t our strongest area, so you can get more information by visiting BoardGameGeek who are experts in this area. They’ve created a detailed Pac-Man: The Board Game review which includes more information on how to play.

What’s Next for Pac-Man?
Who knows what the next Pac-Man game will be. Perhaps a new updated VR one or an AR game in the same style as Pokemon Go? Multiplayer Pac-Man where your friends take control of the ghosts? One thing is for sure, the humble pizza-minus-a-slice dude is not going anywhere anytime soon.