Namco founder dies

You can thank Japanese game publisher Namco for Pac-Man, Galaga, Pole Position, Splatterhouse, Rolling Thunder, Soul Calibur and Tekken. And you can thank Masaya Nakamura, who died last week, for Namco.

During the decades following World War II, the rooftops of Japanese department stores were home to family friendly rides and carnival-style analogue arcade games. Namco got it start making such amusement machines. In the late 1970s and early 80s, Nakamura’s business took off with arcade hits like Galaxian, Galaga, Pole Position, and Xevious. However, it was Pac-Man that wasn’t only the biggest Namco hit of that era, but also of the most important Japanese video games ever made.

Pac-Man is, according to the Guinness book of World Records, still the most successful coin-op of all time.

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Update: dupe! Read the rest

Masaya Nakamura, "father of Pac-Man," RIP

Masaya Nakamura, the founder of Nakamura Amusement Machine Manufacturing Company (Namco) who unleashed Pac-Man fever on Japan and the United States, has died at age 91. Under his leadership, Namco built its business on Galaxian (1979) and Pac-Man (1980) and later console games like Ridge Racer (1983) and Tekken (1994). In 2007, the Japanese government honored Nakamura with an "Order of the Rising Sun" decoration. From Ars Technica:

Nakamura originally founded the company as Nakamura Manufacturing, selling coin-operated children's rides to a department store in Yokohama, Japan. He later changed the name of the company to Nakamura Amusement Machine Manufacturing Company (NAMMCo!) and began producing electromechanical arcade machines like 1976's Namco F-1.

Namco hit the big time when Nakamura shrewdly purchased the struggling Atari Japan from owner Nolan Bushnell for $500,000—far higher than the $80,000 offered by Sega. The deal granted Namco an exclusive license to distribute Atari's games in Japan for ten years and led to the development and release of original games such as Gee Bee and Galaxian.

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Pac-Man joystick contains 12 classic games, costs $8

Lately my family has been going to the Neon Retro video game arcade in Pasadena, CA. They have a bunch of very nicely restored arcade games. It costs $10 a hour and all the games are set to free play. I just found out about this Pac-Man Connect-and-Play. You can buy it for as little as $8 (including shipping) on Amazon. It's got 12 built-in games including: Pac-Man Pac-Man Plus Bosconian Galaxian Mappy Super Pac-Man Galaga Dig Dug New Rally X Pac & Pal Xevious

I wonder if anyone has modded this with a real arcade joystick. That would be a great project for John Park.

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King of Kong also the Prince of Pac-Man

Remember Billy Mitchell, the star of excellent videogame documentary The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters? In 1999, the Donkey Kong champ was also the first person confirmed to attain a perfect score on Pac-Man.

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Pac-man ghosts embroidered iron on patch - $2 with free shipping

Our family has been going to the Neon Retro Arcade in Pasadena. It's a blast. $10/hour gives you unlimited free play on 50 classic arcade games and pinball machines. My daughter now loves Ms. Pac-Man. I bought this Pac-man ghosts embroidered iron on patch for $2 with free shipping on Amazon. It's about 4 inches long. Now we have to figure out where to put it. Read the rest

Mobile game of the week: Pac-Man 256

The new Pac-Man is about running from a glitch wave through an endless map while shooting lasers at ghosts.

See the original notebook sketches for Pac-Man

Pac-Man's creator Toru Iwatani shows his original notebook sketches from the iconic arcade game that turned 35 this year. Read the rest

Play Pac-Man in Google Maps today

Yes, it's almost April Fool's Day, the national day of acting like a jerk with impunity, but this is no trick: You can play Pac-Man in Google Maps right now. Just zoom in to your neighborhood or any interesting tangle of roads, click the Pac-Man icon in the lower left, let the game begin. You'll have more fun if you pick an area with a lot of intersections and escape route -- remember, those ghosts would love to chase you to the end of a long, lonely country road and eat your face.

Note that the area of play is limited; you can't just make a game from the entirety of Manhattan, for example, and will have to zoom in on a smaller area instead. Happy chomping! Update: It's possible to play on mobile as well s desktop. Instructions are here. Read the rest

Pac-man reimagined as survival horror

Mark Wilson at FastCoDesign:

I should feel safe in this moment of stillness, but I can’t let my guard down. Because with every safe step I take, I know that I can only be one step closer to my unseen enemy. That’s when I see him. At least 10 feet tall. Confidently pink.

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Buckner & Garcia's "Pac-Man Fever" (1982)

Buckner & Garcia perform "Pac-Man Fever," from the 1982 album of the same name, on American Bandstand.