Pac-Man debuted as the main playable character in the arcade game, Pac-Man, in 1980. His minimalist yet iconic design was inspired by multiple sources: a rounded simplification of the Japanese character 口 (kuchi), meaning "mouth", and a pizza missing a single slice. His name is derived from the Japanese onomatopoeia ぱくぱく (paku paku), meaning to rapidly open and close one's mouth. Japanese promotional art for the arcade game depicted Pac-Man with a slightly more humanoid design, featuring limbs with orange gloves and red boots, as well as a long nose; this design would be refined over time and subsequently featured in the games beginning with the 1984 arcade title Pac-Land.
As a character, Pac-Man initially began with few personality traits, reflecting his simplistic appearance in the games. Later installments in the franchise, such as Pac-Land and the Pac-Man World series, expand on the character and his backstory. In these games, he is a father with a large family that he deeply cares about, and he is characterized as a relatively laid-back hero who is willing to help wherever he is needed. His relationship with the ghosts—Blinky, Pinky, Inky, and Clyde—has also changed over the years: they have been depicted as archenemies, allies of circumstance, or even friendly rivals.
Due to his simplistic character, Pac-Man's personality can also vary between depictions. For example, Pac-Man World 3 shows him as somewhat flippant and sarcastic, while in Pac-Man & the Ghostly Adventures, he uses a different design, becoming a naïve high school student. Regardless of appearance, he is typically shown to have a ravenous appetite, owing to the original game's focus on eating dots and Bonus Fruit.
No Pac-Man or other Bandai Namco content appears in Brawl. While Shigeru Miyamoto suggested Pac-Man as a third-party character for the game, director Masahiro Sakurai, thinking of Pac-Man's classic "wedge" shape, thought it was far-fetched at the time.
As a playable character
Main article: Pac-Man (SSB4)
Pac-Man is a playable character in Super Smash Bros. 4, revealed behind closed doors at the E3 Smash Bros Q&A and made known to the general public via Nintendo of America's official Twitter account before being covered on 'Pic of the Day' the following morning.
Pac-Man ranks at 46th place on the Smash 4 tier list in the F tier. His Bonus Fruit special move acts as an effective projectile with differing attacks depending on its state upon being thrown. He also has a strong combo game at his disposal, able to perform combos both on the ground and in the air. However, his Bonus Fruit, Power Pellet, and Fire Hydrant specials can all be turned against him easily, creating some risks for himself in battle. He also suffers from an unreliable grab due to its high lag, and has trouble scoring KOs. Nevertheless, Pac-Man can excel by using his combo ability and the versatility in his specials. Currently, Pac-Man has a few dedicated players, but low tournament results.
As a playable character
Main article: Pac-Man (SSBU)
Pac-Man returns as a playable character alongside the series' entire playable cast in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, this time as an unlockable character.