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Pac-Man (universe)

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Pac-Man (universe)
Pac-Man title.png
Developer(s) Bandai Namco
General Computer Corporation
Publisher(s) Bandai Namco
Midway Games
Designer(s) Tōru Iwatani
Genre(s) Maze
Console/platform of origin Arcade
First installment Pac-Man (1980)
Latest installment Pac-Man World Re-Pac (2022)
Article on Wikipedia Pac-Man (universe)

The Pac-Man universe (パックマン, Pacman, initially romanized as Puckman), officially stylized as PAC-MAN, refers to the Super Smash Bros. series' collection of characters, stages, and properties from Bandai Namco's massively successful and long-running media franchise. A staple of popular culture, it is one of the most lucrative and influential video game franchises in history, with the original title being the highest-grossing coin-op arcade game of all time,[1] popularizing the concept of a video game mascot — the titular Pac-Man — and spawning a wave of sequels and spin-offs, as well as animated series, songs, and merchandise, becoming a mascot for Bandai Namco. It was first represented in Super Smash Bros. 4, and returned in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, both developed by Bandai Namco.

Franchise description[edit]

Masaya Nakamura's company, Nakamura Amusement-machine Manufacturing Company (or NAMCO), founded an American subsidiary in 1978 to license its video arcade machines to companies in the United States. The same year, Namco released its first internally designed video arcade game, Gee Bee. Following this, Namco developed and released the highly popular fixed shooter game Galaxian in 1979 to compete with Taito Corporation's successful earlier game, Space Invaders. Galaxian revolutionized the arcade industry as the first game to use RGB-color graphics, and it and its 1981 sequel Galaga became fixtures in what was subsequently remembered as the "Golden Age of arcade video games" — the peak era of arcade video game popularity and technological innovation.

However, Namco's project in between, 1980's Pac-Man, would arguably become even more definitive of both the era and Namco's legacy. A young Namco employee named Toru Iwatani designed the game with the intention to appeal to a wider audience beyond young boys and teenagers — demographics that were typical of the time because of the prevalence of space shooter-themed arcade machines. He therefore fashioned a game out of maze-like elements and a colorful aesthetic with cute character designs, including a player character he originally named "Puckman" after the Japanese phrase ぱくぱく ("paku paku"), an onomatopoeia used to represent the sound of eating. In North America, the game was licensed by Midway Games (now NetherRealm Studios, a subsidiary of Warner Bros.); Midway renamed the character and the game itself Pac-Man for the North American release, as it was realized the original name could be vandalized to say "Fuck-Man" by changing the P into an F.

The original Pac-Man is set in a static, neon-colored maze, where the wedge-shaped Pac-Man must traverse every corridor and lane at least once in order to eat every one of 244 dots distributed across the screen. Pac-Man is at constant risk from four differently-colored "ghosts" that roam the maze with the intention to collide into him, which will cost him a life. Each of the four ghosts has a unique way of targeting Pac-Man, giving them character beyond being simple enemies. Four of the dots in the maze are large, blinking Power Pellets. When Pac-Man eats one of these, the ghosts temporarily turn blue and vulnerable, and will be briefly taken out of the game when Pac-Man collides with them in this state.

The point score — the ultimate objective of the game, like with many arcade games — increases with each dot that is eaten. The score can be further increased by eating the ghosts (with higher rewards for eating multiple ghosts in a row) or the Bonus Fruits that appear at certain thresholds twice in each round. When a maze is cleared, the board will be reset, and the next round will begin. As the rounds continue, the ghosts become faster and more aggressive, the Power Pellet's duration becomes shorter, and higher-valued fruits appear. After round 20, the game reaches its maximum difficulty, and essentially continues endlessly until the player runs out of lives, or reaches level 256, the bugged "kill screen" which cannot be cleared. When all levels are cleared perfectly, the maximum possible score is 3,333,360 points.

Despite its initially lukewarm reception in Japan, it is difficult to overstate the immense impact that the North American release of the game Pac-Man had. It quickly became far more popular than anything seen in the game industry up to that point, grossing over $1 billion in quarters within a decade, and towards the end of the 20th century, the game's total gross in quarters had been estimated at more than 10 billion quarters ($2.5 billion), making it the highest-grossing video game of all time. It established the maze chase game genre, and is also credited for laying the foundations for the stealth genre due to its emphasis on avoiding enemies rather than fighting them; Pac-Man is often cited as an inspiration for the original Metal Gear.

It demonstrated the potential for character in video games; not only did the enemy ghosts have unique personalities in how they attacked, but Pac-Man himself was the first video game mascot (and is often argued to be the first distinctive video game character, at least outside of the text adventure genre). It was the first video game to feature power-ups, and is often credited as the first game to feature cutscenes, albeit not to the degree that Nintendo's own revolutionary arcade game, Donkey Kong, had the following year. Finally, it is one of the earliest games to become popular with a female audience, and this wide appeal allowed it to become gaming's first licensing success. Pac-Man was determined to have the highest brand awareness of any video game character among American consumers.

Pac-Man became one of few games to have been consistently published for over four decades, with many remakes and sequels released on numerous platforms. This is not to mention the influx of unauthorized Pac-Man clones that took place soon after the original release, nor of the ill-fated port of the game for the Atari 2600 (which ironically was a contributing factor to the infamous North American 1983 video game crash, due to underpowered hardware and rushed development leading to poor sales and an oversaturated market).

One such unauthorized clone — a modification titled Crazy Otto, developed by General Computer Corporation — received attention from Midway, who subsequently licensed the game as an "official" Pac-Man sequel. With some changes to the character design, Crazy Otto became Ms. Pac-Man, which garnered a great deal of success of its own due to its improvements over the original title. Despite its development happening without Namco's consent, the company approved of the character and included the feminine take on Pac-Man in various Pac-Man compilations and ports. However, a series of legal and financial battles between Namco and several parties — primarily General Computer Corporation, its successors, and the company currently licensing from them, AtGames — have led to a dispute over who truly owns the character and who is owed royalties. This has resulted in a complete erasure of Ms. Pac-Man in recent years, with products featuring her being pulled from stores and different characters replacing her in re-releases.

As the series progressed with continued releases that explored different genres, the iconic yellow wedge shape that ordinarily defined the title character onscreen was phased out for a design closer to his appearance on the promotional artwork printed on the arcade machines themselves — an abstract, spherical humanoid with rudimentary limbs and a massive face with a stick-like nose that varied in length between appearances. This design was first seen in-game in the 1984 title Pac-Land, in part to tie in with a Hanna-Barbera animated series about Pac-Man that ran for two seasons in 1982 and 1983. Pac-Land is an innovative title in itself as one of the first side-scrolling platform games, and one of the first games to include parallax scrolling. It is considered a major foundation for later platformers, codified by 1985's Super Mario Bros.

The steady stream of Pac-Man games was more-or-less halted for roughly six years after Pac-Mania for the arcades in 1987, before resuming on consoles with Pac-Attack in 1993. Through releases on a variety of competing platforms, including the PC, the formerly maze-based series explored genres as varied as puzzle, adventure, platformer, party, racing, and even pinball. These games often introduced a colorful cartoon world, not unlike that of Mario and Sonic, and a wide variety of characters outside of the original cast of the arcade game, not the least of which were Pac-Man's wife and children. It could be argued that, as recently as the early 2010s, Pac-Man as a property was easily more relevant as a forerunner to modern video games than as a starring video game franchise, due to the tendency of these experimental Pac-Man games to cater to young child demographics and garner at-times mediocre reception, but Namco nonetheless continues to honor the character as its company mascot.

A new character design was formally introduced for Pac-Man's 30th anniversary in 2010, beginning with Pac-Man Party and continuing through the computer-animated series Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures, which began airing in 2013. However, the rebooted franchise and its associated design was met with lukewarm reception, and in the meantime a new subseries had taken hold; the Pac-Man Championship Edition games, conceptualized by original game designer Toru Iwatani and initially released in 2007. Two other entries in this series, Championship Edition DX and Championship Edition 2, were released in 2010 and 2016 respectively, and overall marked a return to the classic maze gameplay and character designs associated with the series.

In an odd twist of fate, Pac-Man was involved both in another company's crossover fighting game — Capcom's Street Fighter X Tekken, wherein he was a playable character exclusively in PlayStation versions — and in the Mario series — as a playable racer in the Mario Kart Arcade GP series, racing arcade games developed jointly by Namco and Nintendo — before he was included for the first time as a playable fighter in Nintendo's Super Smash Bros. series of crossover fighting games in 2014, also a joint Nintendo-Namco effort. Inversely, Mario also made a cameo appearance in the Pac-Man series, acting as the announcer in the Nintendo-developed party title Pac-Man Vs.

In Super Smash Bros. 4[edit]

The Pac-Man franchise is introduced in Super Smash Bros. 4. Uniquely among other third-party franchises, it brings along elements from other properties of the same company. Elements from Namco's early Arcade games - Mappy, Dig Dug, Galaga, and Galaxian - are present along with small cameos from others. See here for elements pertaining to those series.


  • Pac-ManIcon(SSB4-U).png
    Pac-Man (Starter): Pac-Man is one of the oldest and most recognizable video game characters of all time; he is a gluttonous ghost-hunter created by Namco. He was initially announced in a private Smash event during E3 2014 before being revealed worldwide on the Smash 4 site the following day. Pac-Man is the fourth third-party character/series introduced to Smash Bros. Rather than being based off of his modern incarnation from Pac-Man Party and Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures, Pac-Man appears in his classic design from earlier ventures such as Pac-Land and the Pac-Man World titles. His moveset consists of eating power pellets and using 8-bit items and enemies from his own game, along with those of various Namco arcade games.


for Nintendo 3DS[edit]

Pac-Maze is exclusive to the 3DS version. In addition to Pac-Maze, one of the phases on PictoChat 2 has sketched Pac-Men appear as hazards. This phase is based on Pac-Pix.

  • Pac-MazeIconSSB4-3.png
    Pac-Maze (Unlockable): staged within the maze of the original Pac-Man. It has several platforms and all four ghosts: Blinky, Inky, Pinky, and Clyde. Power Pellets appear upon collecting 100 Pac-Dots and make fighters temporarily invincible to the ghosts upon being collected, being turned into their vulnerable "turn-to-blue" forms. Its Ω form is columnar.

for Wii U[edit]

  • PacLandIconSSB4-U.png
    Pac-Land (Unlockable): a stage based on the eponymous arcade game. Similar to Mushroomy Kingdom, it is a traveling side-scrolling stage that begins before Pac-Man's house and brings the fight to various regions in Pac-Land. It is a faithful replication of all seven levels from Pac-Land: the town, forest, mountains, desert, ponds, bridge, and castle. Hazardous elements from Pac-Land were carried over into this stage, such as the water-spraying fire hydrants, falling wood, unswimmable water, and unstable bridge. Like the original, secrets can be found through the stage to power-up the fighters. Ms. Pac-Man and the Mother Fairy cameo on this stage. Pac-Land is one of the possible stages to appear in Level 7 of All-Star Mode as a home stage for Pac-Man. Its Ω form is a columnar plateau occurring in the mountains.

Assist Trophy[edit]

  • Ghosts: evasive poltergeists from the original Pac-Man - Blinky (the red ghost), Pinky (the pink ghost), Inky (the cyan ghost), and Clyde (the orange ghost). The ghosts wander around the stage in pursuit of opponents, mimicking their movement from the original arcade game: Blinky takes the shortest route to opponents, Pinky tries to move in front of them, Inky moves opposite to Blinky, and Clyde moves randomly. They deal 10% damage, cannot be shielded, and speed up several seconds before they despawn, notified by a change in pitch of their "wandering" tone. They do not harm the summoner. Unlike other Assist Trophies, they simply zoom off-screen instead of disappearing. The ghosts are also a part of Pac-Man's moveset (appearing in his smash attacks) and appear as hazards on the Pac-Maze stage.


Original Tracks[edit]

Arrangements and remixes unique to Smash 4.

  • PAC-MAN: a medley of pieces from the original Pac-Man, including "Start Music" and "Coffee Break Music". It plays on Pac-Maze and Pac-Land. It is featured on Disc 2 of A Smashing Soundtrack
  • PAC-MAN (Club Mix): an electronic-influenced medley of pieces from Pac-Man, including "Start Music" and "Coffee Break Music". It plays on Pac-Maze and Pac-Land. It is featured on Disc 1 of A Smashing Soundtrack.
  • PAC-MAN'S PARK / BLOCK TOWN: an arrangement of "Pacman's Park" and "Block Town" from Pac-Mania. "Pacman's Park" itself is partially an arrangement of "Coffee Break Music" from Pac-Man. It plays on Pac-Land. It was used in Pac-Man's reveal trailer "Red, Blue and Yellow" and is featured on Disc 2 of A Smashing Soundtrack.

Victory Theme[edit]


When the Ghost Assist Trophies are summoned, their movement is accompanied with "Ghost: Spurt Move #2" from the original arcade game. When their period of summons is nearing its end, the ghosts become faster and the music shifts to "Ghost: Spurt Move #4".



Main article: Masterpieces

In Super Smash Bros. Ultimate[edit]

The Pac-Man universe returns mostly unchanged. One major change is that all Bandai Namco songs, excluding Tekken songs, are now labeled as Pac-Man songs. These songs include new remixes from Galaga, Mappy, and Dragon Spirit.


  • 55.
    Pac-Man (Unlockable): Pac-Man returns as an unlockable fighter after being a starter in Smash 4. He remains similar to his previous appearance, and retains his Final Smash Super Pac-Man, with a different functionality.


Assist Trophy[edit]

  • Ghosts: Return from Smash 4. They can be KO'd this time around.


Notably, thanks to changes in the way Music is played on stages, all Namco songs in Ultimate are classified as Pac-Man songs.

Original Tracks[edit]

Arrangements and remixes unique to Ultimate.

Returning Tracks[edit]

Arrangements and remixes returning from Smash 4.

  • Super Smash Bros. 4PAC-MAN: A ragtime-styled remix of the game start and intermission themes from the original Pac-Man. Returns from Smash 4.
  • Super Smash Bros. 4PAC-MAN (Club Mix): A more dramatic remix of the game start and intermission themes from Pac-Man, featuring heavy percussion. Returns from Smash 4.
  • Super Smash Bros. 4PAC-MAN'S PARK / BLOCK TOWN: A rock and synth remix of the themes from Pac-Man's Park and Block town from Pac-Mania, as well as the death theme from the same game. Returns from Smash 4. Heard in Pac-Man's character trailer.

Source Tracks[edit]

Victory Theme[edit]

  • Victory! Pac-Man: A remix of the game start jingle from Pac-Man. Remains unchanged from Smash 4.


Media with elements appearing in the Super Smash Bros. series[edit]

The Pac-Man universe has media represented throughout the Super Smash Bros. series with a total of 11 games and media. The latest game represented in this universe is Pac-Man Championship Edition, released on June 6, 2007.


Main article: Pac-Man (game)
  • Playable character:
    • Super Smash Bros. 4 Pac-Man made his debut in this game. Pac-Man transforms into his ball form during certain moves, which is how he appeared in this game.
    • Super Smash Bros. 4 Pac-Man's limbed form first appeared in the Japanese arcade cabinet artwork for this game.
    • Super Smash Bros. 4 Many elements from Pac-Man's moveset debut in this game, such as the Ghosts, the Bonus Fruit, Pac-Dots, and Power Pellets.
  • Stages:
    • Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS Pac-Maze appears as a stage in Smash for 3DS.
  • Assist Trophy:
    • Super Smash Bros. 4 The Ghosts appear as an Assist Trophy and as a stage hazard on Pac-Maze.
  • Trophies:
    • Super Smash Bros. 4 A Power Pellet, the Bonus Fruit, and the Ghosts (as a group and each one individually) appear as trophies in Smash 4.
    • Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS Turn-to-Blue and the Pac-Maze appear as trophies in Smash for 3DS.
  • Spirits:
    • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate The Ghosts, Turn-to-Blue, and the Bonus Fruit appear as Spirits.
  • Music:
    • Super Smash Bros. 4 "Victory! Pac-Man": A remix of the game start jingle from this game.
    • Super Smash Bros. 4 "PAC-MAN": A ragtime-styled remix of the game start and intermission themes from this game.
    • Super Smash Bros. 4 "PAC-MAN (Club Mix)": A more dramatic and persuasion heavy remix of the game start and intermission themes from this game.
    • Super Smash Bros. 4 "Ghost: Spurt Move #2": The Ghost Assist Trophies' theme when they are summoned, sourced from the original arcade game.
    • Super Smash Bros. 4 "Ghost: Spurt Move #4": The Ghost Assist Trophies' theme when their period of summons is nearing its end.
  • Misc:
    • Super Smash Bros. for Wii U The NES port of this game appears as a masterpiece in Smash for Wii U.

Ms. Pac-Man[edit]

  • Stage elements:
    • Super Smash Bros. for Wii U Ms. Pac-Man herself makes an appearance on the Pac-Land stage.

Super Pac-Man[edit]

  • Playable character:
    • Super Smash Bros. 4 Pac-Man's Final Smash of the same name is based on this game.

Pac-Man (TV series)[edit]

  • Stages:
    • Super Smash Bros. for Wii U The game Pac-Land was created as a tie-in to the show, which appears as its own stage in Smash 4 and Ultimate.


  • Playable character:
    • Super Smash Bros. 4 Pac-Man's limbed form makes its first in-game appearance in this game.
    • Super Smash Bros. 4 Pac-Man's down special summons a Fire Hydrant from this game.
    • Super Smash Bros. 4 Many of Pac-Man's animations and sound effects are based on this game.
    • Super Smash Bros. 4 One of Pac-Man's victory poses is based on this game.
    • Super Smash Bros. 4 Pac-Man's blue and white costumes in Smash 4 and Ultimate are based on his in-game sprite and official artwork of the Wing Shoes, respectively.
    • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Two fairies from this game appear on Pac-Man's down taunt.
  • Stages:
    • Super Smash Bros. for Wii U A side-scrolling stage based on the arcade version of the game appears in Smash for Wii U and Ultimate.
  • Trophies:
    • Super Smash Bros. 4 A Fire Hydrant appears as a trophy in Smash 4.
    • Super Smash Bros. for Wii U The Mother Fairy and Pac-Man's house appear in Smash for Wii U.
  • Spirits:
    • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate The Mother Fairy appears as a Spirit.


  • Music:
    • Super Smash Bros. 4 "PAC-MAN'S PARK / BLOCK TOWN": A rock and synth remix of the themes from Pac-Man's Park and Block Town, as well as the death theme from this game.

Pac-Man World[edit]

  • Playable character:
    • Super Smash Bros. 4 Pac-Man's head scratching idle animation is similar to one of his idle animations from this game.
    • Super Smash Bros. 4 Pac-Man's side special is loosely inspired by the flying Pac-Dot chains from this game.

Pac-Man World 2[edit]

  • Playable character:
    • Super Smash Bros. 4 Pac-Man's up aerial is based on the Flip Kick from this game.


  • Stage elements:
    • Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS Drawings of Pac-Man in his ball form from this game appear on PictoChat 2 in Smash for 3DS and Ultimate. They move around the stage, damaging players on contact.

Pac-Man World 3[edit]

  • Playable character:
    • Super Smash Bros. 4 Pac-Man's ability to wall jump was taken from this game.

Pac-Man Championship Edition[edit]

  • Playable character:
    • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate The aesthetics and sound effects of Pac-Man's Final Smash in Ultimate are inspired by this game.
  • Stage elements:
    • Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS The way the Pac-Dots respawn and the fluctuating neon colors of the platforms in Pac-Maze are derived from this game.


  • The Pac-Man universe is the oldest third-party universe with a playable character to be represented in Smash.
    • Additionally, it is the second oldest universe with a playable character overall; only Game & Watch is older, by just one month.
  • Pac-Man is the only third-party universe to have a game primarily developed by Nintendo, as Nintendo EAD developed Pac-Man Vs.
    • It is also one of the three third-party universes to have a game published by Nintendo's rival Microsoft, the others being Banjo-Kazooie and Minecraft; it was included with the compilation Return of Arcade, and was even the game used in the trial version included with most copies of the Windows 95 CD.
  • Pac-Man, Sonic the Hedgehog, and Final Fantasy are the only third party universes to have had more than one stage.