Pac-Man gets special Google birthday surprise

by: Bradley Wint on May 21st, 2010 at 9:17 pm

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Thirty years ago, the yellow monster called Pac-Man was formed. Developed by video game maker Namco, the objective was to eat all the yellow dots without being eaten by the other monsters. Sounds simple right? Sounds lame? Hell no! Pacman became one of the most popular games to date with many variations following suit, even getting its own TV show and a Ms. Pac-Man counterpart.

Google has taken it upon themselves to commemorate the great game by adding an interactive version on their website’s home page. Instead of seeing the regular logo, you see the Pac-Man screen, and instead of “I’m feeling lucky”, “Insert Coin” is placed instead which allows you to play the game. So if you were living in a hole for the past 30 years and didn’t know what Pac-Man was, Google is making sure you find out.

The game was designed to be never ending. Once you had a remaining life, it was possible to go onto a new level, but due to a memory capacity limit on the original systems, the game hit the “Split Screen” mode on level 256 where half the screen turned into garble, barring the player from running to the other side. As a result, they would be forced to lose the game. Just as an FYI, here is the full explanation.

“Pac-Man technically has no ending—as long as the player keeps at least one life, he or she should be able to continue playing indefinitely. However, because of a bug  in the routine that draws the fruit, the right side of the 256th level becomes a scrambled mixture of text and symbols, rendering the level impossible to pass by legitimate means. Normally, no more than seven fruits are displayed at any one time, but when the internal level counter (stored in a single byte) reaches 255, the subroutine erroneously causes this value to “roll over” to zero before drawing the fruit. This causes the routine to attempt to draw 256 fruits, which corrupts the bottom of the screen and the whole right half of the maze with seemingly random symbols.” – Wikipedia

In 1999, Billy Mitchel from Hollywood, Florida set the record of playing a perfect game (no deaths, eating all fruits, dots and monsters). He reached level 256 with a score of 3,333,360 points in under six hours.

While most men and women feel sad hitting the big 3-o, we say congrats to Pac-Man for living on through the generations.

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