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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Pac-Man Pioneer Now A Ghost

Nakamura Masaya (surname first)… the gentleman whose company created Pac-Man, has died at the age of 91 on January 22, 2017, but only announced on January 30.

He founded video game legend Namco.

I’ll refrain the obvious jokes about running out of lives - except for the headline.

First released in 1980, in the video game Pac-Man (パックマン, Pakkuman), you try to gobble up the dots spread across the maze while avoiding for creatures that look like tribbles from Star Trek (Inky, Blinky, Pinky and Clyde… a name grouping that is the reverse of the Beatles names of John, Paul, George and Ringo, or the Gilligan’s Island parody of the Mosquitoes: Bingo, Bango, Bongo and Irving… IE, silly name, silly name, silly name, real name).

After eating a power pellet, the four creatures would become blue - IE vulnerable - and Pac-Man could turn the tables and eat them and turn them into a ghost, sending them back to the central home to reform and come after him again.

Yes… I actually bought and still own the music record (pre-MP, pre-DVD, pre-CD) Pac-Man Fever.

Look at that: The Pac-Man Fever song is ahead of the Police, Journey, and Queen...
In my defense, the main reason I bought it because the liner notes consisted of patterns to BEAT various levels of the game.

Being completely honest, I never memorized them enough to actually use them.

I was one of those guys who would fish credits in arcade video game machines… using a string taped to a quarter to fish up and down in the slot to gain 99 credits (the maximum). I never played any game that much, and would give them to other kids after I was done.

I’m not alone in having done that, so it is safe to say that if every player had paid to play, it would have generated more than US$2.5 billion in quarters. I don’t even want to think about how many quarters I gave before becoming a juvenile delinquent.

Back to Nakamura… after graduating from a technical university in Yokohama, he founded Namco in 1955 as a company, with its first job providing an operating set of mechanical horses on the roof of a department store.

After Namco was merged with another Japanese games firm, Bandai, to form Namco-Bandai (later Bandai Namco) in 2005, Nakamura retained an honorary position.

He was also awarded the Order of the Rising Sun by the Japanese government for his services to industry.

Pac-Man, was actually created by Iwatani Toru… first as an arcade stand-up, table-top, home console, animated television series, theme parks and a film… and if memory serves me correctly (and it does), I believe Pac-Man was voted Time magazine’s “Man-Of-The Year”… mostly because I still have that issue somewhere in the basement.
Cover from Mad magazine #233, September 1983... that's WHY I still have it.
Okay... it was a Mad magazine parody, but it wasn't far off the truth.

Believe it or not, I’m not a hoarder… not a messy one, at any rate. You ever see an (Steven Spielberg) Amazing Stories episode entitled "Come Gather Ye Acorns"? All about a guy who seemed to be a messy bugger with loads of junk, but instead it was all treasure... unfortunately, I'm not in that category, but sorta...

Back in 1993, Namco bought Nikkatsu, which is Japan’s oldest film studio, which was famous for its pink-eiga (pink movies). Pink-eiga are soft-porn flicks.

Anyhow… Nakamura is gone, but not forgotten. Give him a one-handed clap… you know, because you have your hand on your joystick.

Andrew "I've got a pocket full of quarters and I'm heading to the arcade..." Joseph (For the past 35 years... it's been in my brain).
PS: Opening lines of Pac-Man Fever:
I got a pocket full of quarters, and I'm headed to the arcade.
I don't have a lot of money, but I'm bringing everything I made.
I've got a callus on my finger, and my shoulder's hurting too.
I'm gonna eat them all up, just as soon as they turn blue. 

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