- Joystick: Use the 4-way joystick to direct Pac-Man through the maze. Hold it in direction that you want Pac-Man to go before he can turn that way, and he will turn as soon as possible.
- 1 or 2 Player Buttons: Push these buttons to begin a one or two player game.
The title character himself needs no introduction. You control Pac-Man as you guide him through the maze and on to victory. Pac-Man's one and only goal is to gobble up every pellet (and Power Pellet) in the maze. He must avoid contact with the four ghosts, unless they are temporarily afraid of Pac-Man as result of eating one of the four Power Pellets located in each corner of the maze. Pac-Man moves faster when he's not eating pellets than when he is. He is also capable of turning around corners faster than the ghosts, so make as many turns as possible when the ghosts are on his tail. Pac-Man earns 10 points for every pellet eaten, and 50 points for every Power Pellet. At 10,000 points Pac-Man will receive an extra life by default, but this setting can be modified to 15,000 points, 20,000 points or even fully disabled.
Nickname: Blinky. As his name implies, Shadow is usually a constant shadow on Pac-Man's tail. When he's not patrolling the top-right corner of the maze, Shadow tries to find the quickest route to Pac-Man's position. Despite the fact that Pinky's real name is Speedy, Shadow is actually the fastest of the ghosts because of when there are only a few pellets left, Blinky drastically speeds up, which can make him quite deadly. In the original Japanese version, his name is Oikake/Akabei.
AI: When the ghosts are not patrolling in their home corners (Blinky: top-right, Pinky: top-left, Inky: bottom-right, Clyde: bottom-left), Blinky will attempt to shorten the distance between Pac-Man and himself. If he has to choose between shortening the horizontal or vertical distance, he will choose to shorten whichever is greatest. For example, if Pac-Man is four grid spaces to the left, and seven grid spaces above Blinky, he'll try to move up towards Pac-Man before he moves to the left.
Nickname: Pinky. Speedy gets his name for an unusual reason. Speedy appears to try to outsmart Pac-Man and crash into Pac-Man from the opposite direction. The truth behind this is that when Speedy isn't patrolling the top-left corner of the maze, he tries to attack Pac-Man by moving to where he is going to be (that is, a few spaces ahead of Pac-Man's current direction) instead of right where he is, as Blinky does. It's difficult to use this to your advantage, but it's possible. If Pinky is coming at you and you face a different direction, even briefly, he may just turn away and attempt to cut you off in the new direction while you return to your original direction. In the original Japanese version, his name is Machibuse/Pinky.
AI: When the ghosts are not patrolling their home corners, Pinky wants to go to the place that is four grid spaces ahead of Pac-Man in the direction that Pac-Man is facing. If Pac-Man is facing down, Pinky wants to go to the location exactly four spaces below Pac-Man. Moving towards this place uses the same logic that Blinky uses to find Pac-Man's exact location. Pinky is affected by a targeting bug if Pac-Man is facing up - when he moves or faces up, Pinky tries moving towards a point up, and left, four spaces.
Note: In the original arcade series, the ghosts' genders are unspecified and assumed to be male. In 1999, the USA division of Namco & Namco Hometech developed the Pac-Man World series and declared Pinky to be female.
Nickname: Inky. Bashful has truly earned his name. In a game of chicken between Pac-Man and Bashful, Bashful might just run away. This isn't always the case, but if Blinky is right behind you, it's a safe bet. He can't be scared off while he patrols the southeast portion of the maze. In Japan, his name is Kimagure/Aosuke.
AI: Bashful has the most complicated AI of all. When the ghosts are not patrolling their home corners, Bashful considers two things: Shadow's location, and the location two grid spaces ahead of Pac-Man. Bashful draws a line from Shadow to the spot that is two squares in front of Pac-Man and extends that line twice as far. Therefore, if Bashful is alongside Shadow when they are behind Pac-Man, Bashful will usually follow Shadow the whole time. But if Bashful is in front of Pac-Man when Shadow is far behind him, Bashful tends to want to move away from Pac-Man (in reality, to a point very far ahead of Pac-Man). Bashful is affected by a similar targeting bug that affects Speedy. When Pac-Man is moving or facing up, the spot Bashful uses to draw the line is two squares above and left of Pac-Man.
Nickname: Clyde. Pokey needs a new nickname because out of all the ghosts, Pokey is the least likely to "C'lyde" with Pac-Man. Pokey is always the last ghost out of the regenerator, and the loner of the gang, usually off doing his own thing when not patrolling the bottom-left corner of the maze. His behavior is very random, so while he's not likely to be following you in hot pursuit with the other ghosts, he is a little less predictable, and still a danger. In Japan, his name is Otoboke/Guzuta.
AI: Pokey has two basic AIs, one for when he's far from Pac-Man, and one for when he is near to Pac-Man. When the ghosts are not patrolling their home corners, and Pokey is far away from Pac-Man (beyond eight grid spaces), Pokey behaves very much like Blinky, trying to move to Pac-Man's exact location. However, when Pokey gets within eight grid spaces of Pac-Man, he automatically changes his behavior and goes to patrol his home corner in the bottom-left section of the maze.
When Pac-Man eats one of the four Power Pellets which are located in the corners of the maze, the ghosts will turn blue for a short period of time (shown left). The higher the round, the shorter that time becomes, until Pac-Man reaches the ninth key (the 21st round) and the ghosts do not turn blue at all; they only reverse direction. Eating consecutive ghosts while they are scared can earn you 200, 400, 800, and 1600 points if you manage to eat all four. But watch out when they start flashing white (shown right) because they're about to change back to their former ghostly selves, and they will then continue to pursue you like before.
|2nd consecutive ghost||400|
|3rd consecutive ghost||800|
|4th consecutive ghost||1600|
|Bonus items||See Rounds below.|
Pac-Man was one of the first games to provide players with a break from the action in the form of short intermissions, known better today as cut-scenes. Not only did the intermissions provide a chance to rest, they provided a bit of humor. Intermission I is seen after Round 2, Intermission II is seen after Round 5 and Intermission III is seen after Rounds 9, 13 and 17.
- Intermission I: Pac-Man enters from the right, followed closely by Shadow (Blinky). They exit to the left. Blinky reappears from the left as a scared (blue) ghost, followed immediately by a much larger "super" version of Pac-Man. This super version would officially appear in Super Pac-Man.
- Intermission II: Pac-Man enters from the right, followed closely by Shadow (Blinky). This time, there is a nail sticking out in the path that Pac-Man and Shadow are crossing. Shadow's "clothing" gets caught on the nail as he passes by it, and the bottom right corner tears off, stuck to the nail. Shadow, whose foot is now visible, looks at the nail and then rolls his eyes.
- Intermission III: Pac-Man enters from the right, followed closely by Shadow (Blinky), whose torn "clothing" is clearly sewn back together. After both Pac-Man and Shadow exit to the left, Shadow immediately reappears from the left, appearing disrobed and dragging his clothing on the floor behind him. This disrobed sprite was not reused in any later Pac-Man games, but was seen in a few of the unlicensed bootlegs.