Puckman [Upright model]

Arcade Video game published 43 years ago by NAMCO, Ltd.

Listed in MAME

Puckman [Upright model] screenshot

Puckman © 1980 Namco.

Puckman is the seminal and hugely influential arcade game in which the player guides the legendary Puckman around a single-screen maze eating dots. Puckman is constantly pursued in his task by four colored ghosts. Each ghost has its own unique personality and behavioural patterns and a single touch from any of the ghosts results in Puckman losing a life. When all of Puckman's lives are lost, the game is over.

Power pills are situated in each corner of the rectangular maze and eating one of these makes Puckman temporarily invincible; the four ghosts also change to dark blue in color and can now be eaten by Puckman. But watch out...a flashing blue ghost indicates that the power pill is about to wear off and the ghosts are about to transform back to their former selves again. Once Puckman eats a blue ghost, this 'skinned' ghost then becomes visible as a pair of eyes only, will return to the ghost pen in the middle of the maze, regenerate into its former self, and return to the maze to continue its pursuit of Puckman.

Each maze contains 240 dots and 4 power pills, and all must be eaten to complete the level; whereupon the entire sequence begins again with an increased level of difficulty (the action increases in speed and power pills decrease in effectiveness).

Twice in every level, a bonus fruit or prize item will temporarily appear in the middle of the maze below the ghost pen. Puckman can eat these bonus items to receive extra points. Also, there is an escape tunnel on each side of the maze that Puckman can use to escape any ghosts that are currently closing in on him. The ghosts can also use the tunnel, but take longer to pass through it than Puckman, making escape a little easier.

Between certain rounds, funny intermissions will be played featuring Puckman and the ghosts in funny situations. Three intermissions are present:
1) The red ghost chases Puckman across the screen and off the side. Then he re-appears running in the opposite direction, having turned blue, followed by a giant Puckman! This intermission is played after Round 2.
2) The red ghost is again chasing Puckman, but this time he rips his red sheet on a nail on the ground, and we can see his pink body under the sheet! This intermission is played after Round 5.
3) The red ghost chases Puckman across the screen once more, this time with his sheet sewn. They disappear at the left side and then the ghost reappears coming back the opposite direction. This time he is bare and drags his sheet behind him. This intermission is played after Rounds 9, 13 and 17.

No intermission is present between rounds after the 18th one.


The original Namco Puckman Upright model came in a white cabinet that may look familiar to most gamers. This cabinet is the same 'swoopy' design used for Pac-Man and Galaxian. The only actual design difference was the coin door. The Japanese version had a tall coin door with a single coin mech, while the U.S. version, Pac-Man, had a fat coin door with two coin mechs installed. However, the graphics on the Japanese machine were completely different from those of the U.S. machine. The marquee had the 'Puckman' logo off to the right-hand side at an angle, and showed a scene with half a dozen cartoon Puckmen eating power pellets, with a few ghosts lingering off to the side. The monitor bezel was largely red and was of a circular design and had many Puckmen lounging around the perimeter of the circle. The control panel continued the reddish graphics and had instructions in Japanese, along with a yellow ball-top 4-Way joystick and Start buttons for each player. The sideart was a large circular sticker that advertised the game's name, and had many cartoon Puckmen in action around the edges of the circle, with the word Namco displayed prominently at the bottom. The cabinet was finished off with yellow t-molding on the edges.

Main CPU : Zilog Z80 (@ 3.072 Mhz)
Sound Chips : Namco 3-channel WSG

Players : 2
Control : 4-way joystick


The game was first introduced to the Japanese arcade market on May 22, 1980 and caught the hearts and imaginations of the public like no other game before it, and few since. It is still regarded as the hallmark of the 'golden age' of video games and an icon of 1980's popular culture.

The game was originally known in Japan as Puckman, but due to the West's predilection with changing words to vulgarities by scratching part of the word off (in this case, changing the word 'Puck' to something rather less socially acceptable by scratching off part of the letter 'P'), the name was changed to Pac-Man for its release to the American arcade market in October 1980. The name 'Pac-Man' comes from the Japanese slang term 'paku-paku', which describes the motion of the mouth opening and closing during eating and translates to English as 'to eat'.

Export releases:
[US] "Pac-Man [Model 932]"

Toru Iwatani, author and designer of Puckman: "Puckman's character is difficult to explain even to the Japanese -- he is an innocent character. He hasn't been educated to discern between good and evil. He acts more like a small child than a grown-up person. Think of him as a child learning in the course of his daily activities. If someone tells him guns are evil, he would be the type to rush out and eat guns. But he would most probably eat any gun, even the pistols of policemen who need them."

Puckman was, quite literally, conceived at lunchtime. Iwatani, then in his mid 20s, was very hungry and ordered himself a pizza for lunch. He took one slice, and, looking at the rest of the pizza, Puckman was born. However, in later years, Iwatini has suggested the shape was based on the Japanese character 'kuchi', meaning mouth. He rounded off this shape, and created the classic shape. The game took 1 1/2 years to complete and had five people on its team. Puckman is the greatest selling arcade game of all time and is arguably also the world's most recognized video-game character of all time. It had its own cartoon, lunch box, board game, stickers and hundreds of other products. This was largely due to Puckman being the first truly distinctive video-game 'character', and it changed the face of video games forever. Puckman was the first video game to be as equally popular to women as it was with men.

* A place in video game history: "Pac-Man is the most universally known arcade game," said Chris Lindsey, director of the National Video Game and Coin-Op Museum in St. Louis. "Everybody knows about Pac-Man. And, I've noticed, almost everybody can play Pac-Man pretty well. Pac-Man makes just about the best use of the joystick one can imagine. It's so intuitive that it puts other games to shame in terms of how easy it is for a person to walk up, stick a quarter in the machine, and start doing something meaningful. At the time, Pac-Man introduced a completely unique style of game play and was also highly identifiable in terms of its music. With Pac-Man, everything was there. The video game industry needs another game that captures the public's heart like Pac-Man, and so far, no one has been able to come up with it."

* The great 25-cent escape: "People expect to see Pac-Man when they come into the museum, and without fail, when they see it, they want to play it," Lindsey said. "People remember spending hours and hours at Pac-Man. They like to see how good they are now when they play it. And I would say that, perhaps more than any other game, the same playing skills still apply. Perhaps it's because of the intuitive game play. You don't have to memorize the behavior of a wide array of enemies as you do with some other games. You just have to remember that when the ghosts turn blue, you only have seconds, until they start seriously blinking, to go and get them. And Pac-Man is a little looser in its style of game play - more open. For instance, you can kill time in the lower left hand corner until you see an opening between the ghosts, and you can strategize a bit more: You can play with the tunnels, you can play with the position of the ghosts in relation to the energizers. Even people who haven't played in years remember those strategies."

After all these years, the challenge of Pac-Man still remains.

"You can also get into some really fun jams, when you've got a ghost on your tail and you have to make a decision about whether you're going to go left, or right, or straight at the next junction, which is in .03 seconds," Lindsey said. "It gets to be pretty tense, especially when those ghosts start moving really fast and the energizers aren't lasting as long. Pac-Man can be a real heart-thumping game."

After the 255th level, Puckman/Pac-Man presents the player with the infamous 'split-screen' level, where the left-half of the screen is normal, but the right-half of the screen is garbled with a mess of letters, numbers, symbols and other graphics. This level cannot be completed because there are not enough dots on screen to be eaten! This is the result of a bug in the routine drawing the fruits at the bottom of the screen, according to the round number. Indeed, the code works as follows:
1) it increases the last round number by one;
2) it checks if the result is smaller than 8 (in this case, you still would not have enough fruits to fill the line and some blank space must be drawn);
3) it checks if the result is larger than 19 (in this case, it has only to draw keys);
4) finally, it fills the bottom bar with the correct fruits.

In particular, if the round number is smaller than 8, the game draws as many fruits as the previous round number. This produces an undesirable effect right after the 255th level.

Indeed, 256 = 255+1 becomes 00 for the CPU (which expects to use the last 2 hexadecimal digits only, and 256 = 100 in hex)!

Therefore, the game thinks to be in one of the first 7 levels (because 0 is smaller than 7), but it tries to draw 255 fruits (because the last round number was 255). Of course, there is no space for that many fruits to be displayed and the game starts to draw garbage on the main screen.
Fixing the original code (either through a cheat in emulation, or hacking the roms on the PCB) would results in a 256th level identical to the first one (cherries will appear) but harder, since ghosts will behave as they do in levels beyond the 19th.

The alien spaceship 'Galaxian' makes an appearance as the prize in the 9th and 10th boards.

Note : Excluding bootlegs, there are 23 different name/nickname combinations for the ghosts in Puckman/Pac-Man (29 including 'Sue' from 'Ms. Pac-Man', 'Tim' from 'Jr. Pac-Man', 'Common' and 'Grey Common' from the Japanese version of 'Pac-Mania', and 'Funky' and 'Spunky' from the American version of 'Pac-Mania').

'Galaxian' boards will run in Pac-Man machines, but the sound pinout is different, so the pinout at the connector would have to be modified. To fire, one would have to press UP on the joystick.

Billy Mitchell, Rick Fothergill, Chris Ayra, Tim Balderramos and Donald Hayes all hold the official record for this game on 'Regular (TGTS)' settings with a perfect score of 3,333,360 points on July 3, 1999, July 31, 1999, February 16, 2000, December 4, 2004 and July 21, 2005, respectively.

Chris Ayra holds the official record for the fastest time to get a perfect game on 'Regular' settings with 3:42:05 on April 2, 2002.

Ron Corcoran holds the official record for this game on 'Speedup' settings with 1,321,020 points on May 13, 2001.


The attract mode's title sequence introduces the ghosts with name/nickname combinations displayed on the upper half of the screen.

The default name/nickname combinations for the ghosts in the original Japanese version are :
Oikake - "Akabei" (translation: Chaser - "Red Guy") (red ghost)
Machibuse - "Pinky" (translation: Ambusher - "Pink Guy") (pink ghost)
Kimagure - "Aosuke" (translation: Fickle - "Blue Guy") (cyan ghost)
Otoboke - "Guzuta" (translation: Stupid - "Slow Guy") (orange ghost)

The Japanese version also has a DIP switch for alternate name/nickname combinations for the ghosts. These alternate names are :
Urchin - "Macky" (red ghost)
Romp - "Micky" (pink ghost)
Stylist - "Mucky" (cyan ghost)
Crybaby - "Mocky" (orange ghost)

The name/nickname combinations for the ghosts in the North American version are :
Shadow - "Blinky" (red ghost)
Speedy - "Pinky" (pink ghost)
Bashful - "Inky" (cyan ghost)
Pokey - "Clyde" (orange ghost)

Unlike the Japanese version, the American version has no DIP switch for alternate ghost names.


In a later revision ("Japan Set 2" in Mame):
* At the top of the title screen, instead of 'Nickname', it says 'Ghost'.
* The 'Press Start' screen displays 1981 as the year of release, instead of 1980.

Dot 10 points.
Power pill (energizer) 50 points.
Ghosts 200, 400, 800, 1,600 points.
Cherry 100 points.
Strawberry 300 points.
Peach 500 points.
Apple 700 points.
Pineapple 1,000 points.
Galaxian 2,000 points.
Bell 3,000 points.
Key 5,000 points.

* The number of lives Puckman starts with depends on the 'Lives' dip switch setting (1, 2, 3, or 5; the default is 3).

* An extra life is awarded based on the 'Extra Lives' dip switch setting (10,000, 15,000, 20,000, or None; the default is 10,000).

* Fruits appear twice on each board. The first fruit appears after Puckman has eaten 70 dots; the second fruit appears once there are only 70 dots remaining in the maze.

* At the beginning of a round, the ghosts won't immediately pursue Puckman. Use this time the best as you can.

* Puckman can turn corners faster than the ghosts can, so turning many corners can help you escape ghosts.

* The tunnel allows Puckman and the ghosts to instantly travel from one side of the maze to the other. While traveling through the tunnel, Puckman moves at normal speed, but the ghosts' speed is reduced in half. This provides Puckman with a good opportunity to put some distance between him and the ghosts, but be careful not to get trapped by another ghost entering the opposite side.

* Stall Puckman from entering the tunnel and then, just before the ghosts reach him, send him through the tunnel. By attracting the ghosts to one side of the screen, you reduce Puckman's chances of meeting them when he emerges on the other side of the screen.

* If you hold the joystick in a direction that is blocked by a wall, Puckman will turn in that direction as soon as he reaches a passage leading in that direction. Remember this to turn corners as fast as you can.

* Remember that eating dots will slow Puckman down a little bit: avoid parts of the maze in which you've not been yet if you are trying to escape ghosts!

* Try not to eat power pills until the ghosts are near. The longer Puckman waits, the closer the ghosts get, and the easier it is for Puckman to eat them once they have turned blue.

* Mind that, as the levels increases, the ghost speed increases as well!

* In later rounds, you're not going to be able to eat ghosts after eating a power pill, because the vulnerability time decreases to zero. This is when you need to learn how to avoid the ghosts understanding their movement and their moving patterns!

* Right above the ghost pen, there are two paths leading upward to the upper part of the maze. The ghosts never travel upward through these holes while they're in their normal forms; they only do while they're blue after Puckman has eaten a power pill. Indeed, they only exit the area around the ghost pen from the sides or the bottom. These are not completely safe corners, since ghosts can travel downward through them, anyway they often represents a safe passage to flee from ghosts pursuing you around the ghost pen.

* Ghosts' Movements : First of all, remember that ghosts are not always following you! Their movements follow two distinct phases: one in which they avoid Puckman and one in which they hunt him down. In the former phase, each ghost patrols his personal corner of the maze. In the latter one, they will try to find Puckman, following their personal 'behavior':
1) The red ghost tends to patrol the top-right corner of the maze and he follows Puckman always trying to minimize their respective distance.
2) The pink ghost tends to patrol the top-left corner of the maze and he follows Puckman trying to reach a position slightly in front of Puckman, in the direction he's moving.
3) The cyan ghost tends to patrol the bottom-right corner of the maze and he has the most complicated AI since he moves towards a point determined by both Puckman's position and the red ghost's position.
4) The orange ghost tends to patrol the bottom-left corner of the maze and he only tries to be close to Puckman, without hunting him directly.

Ghosts alternate these two different behaviors (hiding and hunting) a few times in each round, then they start to pursue Puckman restlessly until all the dots are eaten, or they manage to catch him.

Additionally, as soon as a certain number of dots has been cleared from the maze (this number decreases as the levels pass), the red ghost's speed will increase and he won't stop to search for Puckman anymore.


1. Puckman (1980, ARC)
2. Super Pac-Man (1982, ARC)
3. Pac & Pal (1983, ARC)
4. Pac-Land (1984, ARC)
5. Pac-Mania (1987, ARC)
6. Hello! Pac-Man [Model SHVC-PN-JPN] (1994, Super Famicom, Mega Drive)
7. Pac-In-Time [Model SHVC-APTJ-JPN] (1994, Super Famicom; 1995, Game Boy)
8. Pac-Man Arrangement (1996, ARC) : part of "Namco Classics Collection Vol.2"
9. Pac-Man World [Model SLPS-02345] (1999, PS)
10. Ms. Pac-Man Maze Madness [Model SLPS-03000] (2000, PS)
11. Pac-Man World 2 [Model SLPS-25141] (2002, PS2, PC)
12. Pac-Man Arrangement (2005, PSP) : part of "Namco Museum [Model ULJS-00012]"
13. Pac 'n Roll [Model NTR-APNJ-JPN] (2005, DS)
14. Pac-Pix [Model NTR-APCJ-JPN] (2005, DS)
15. Pac-Man Arrangement Plus (2006, PSP) : part of "Namco Museum Vol.2 [Model ULJS-00047]"
16. Pac-Man Championship Edition (2007, XBLA)
17. Pac-Man Championship Edition DX (2010, XBLA, PSN)
18. Pac-Man Party [Model RVL-SP7J-JPN] (2010, Wii)
19. Pac-Man Battle Royale (2011, ARC)
20. Pac-Man Tilt (2011, 3DS) : part of "Pac-Man & Galaga Dimensions [Model CTR-APGJ-JPN]"
21. Pac-Man Championship Edition DX+ (2013, XBLA, PSN)
22. Pac-World (2014, 3DS, Wii U, PS3)
23. Pac-World 2 (2014, 3DS, Wii U, PS3)


Designed by : Toru Iwatani
Programmed by : Hideyuki Mokajima
Music & Sound by : Toshio Kai


NOTE: For ports released in North America, please see the Midway Pac-Man (North American version) upright entry.

japan Atari 2600 (1983)
japan Nintendo Famicom (nov.2, 1984) "Pac-Man [Model NPM-4500]"
europe Nintendo NES (1990)
australia Nintendo NES (1990)
japan Nintendo Famicom Disk (may.18, 1990) "Pac-Man [Model NDS-PAC]"
japan Sony PlayStation (nov.22, 1995) "Namco Museum Vol.1 [Model SLPS-00107]"
australia Sony PlayStation (1996) "Namco Museum Vol.1 [Model SCES-00243]"
europe Sony PlayStation (aug.1996) "Namco Museum Vol.1 [Model SCES-00243]"
japan Sony PS2 (jan.26, 2006) "Namco Museum Arcade Hits! [Model SLPS-25590]"
europe Microsoft XBOX (mar.24, 2006) "Namco Museum - 50th Anniversary"
europe Sony PS2 (mar.31, 2006) "Namco Museum - 50th Anniversary [Model SLES-53957]"
europe Nintendo GameCube (may.5, 2006) "Namco Museum - 50th Anniversary [Model DOL-G5NP-EUR]"
europe japan australia Microsoft XBOX 360 [XBLA] (aug.9, 2006)
europe Microsoft XBOX 360 (may.15, 2009) "Namco Museum - Virtual Arcade"
australia Microsoft XBOX 360 (june.3, 2009) "Namco Museum - Virtual Arcade"
japan Microsoft XBOX 360 [XBLA] (nov.5, 2009) "Namco Museum - Virtual Arcade [Model 2RD-00001]"
japan Sony PlayStation 3 (jan.29, 2009) "Namco Museum.comm [Model NPJB-00012]"
europe Sony PlayStation 3 (apr.1, 2010) "Namco Museum Essentials [Model NPEB-00104]"
australia Sony PlayStation 3 (apr.1, 2010) "Namco Museum Essentials"
korea europe australia Microsoft XBOX 360 [XBLA] (feb.26, 2014) "Pac-Man Museum"
europe australia Sony PlayStation 3 [PSN] (feb.26, 2014) "Pac-Man Museum [Model NPEB-01892]"
korea Sony PlayStation 3 [PSN] (feb.26, 2014) "Pac-Man Museum"
japan Microsoft XBOX 360 [XBLA] (june.25, 2014) "Pac-Man Museum"
japan Sony PlayStation 3 [PSN] (june.25, 2014) "Pac-Man Museum"
europe australia japan Microsoft XBOX One [XBOX Store] (apr.20, 2016) "Arcade Game Series - Pac-Man"
europe australia Sony PlayStation 4 [PSN] (apr.20, 2016) "Arcade Game Series - Pac-Man [Model CUSA-03862]"
japan Sony PlayStation 4 [PSN] (apr.20, 2016) "Arcade Game Series - Pac-Man [Model CUSA-03670]"

japan Nintendo Game Boy (nov.16, 1990) "Pac-Man [Model DMG-PCA]"
japan Sega Game Gear (jan.29, 1991) "Pac-Man [Model T-14017]"
europe Nintendo Game Boy (1991) "Pac-Man [Model DMG-PC-NOE]"
australia Nintendo Game Boy (1991) "Pac-Man [Model DMG-PC-AUS]"
europe Nintendo Game Boy Color (1999) "Pac-Man - Special Colour Edition [Model DMG-AACP-EUR]"
japan SNK Neo-Geo Pocket Color (aug.26, 1999) "Pac-Man [Model NEOP00550]"
europe SNK Neo-Geo Pocket Color (oct.1, 1999) "Pac-Man [Model NEOP0055]"
europe Nintendo Game Boy Advance (dec.7, 2001) "Pac-Man Collection [Model AGB-APCP]"
japan Nintendo Game Boy Advance (jan.11, 2002) "Pac-Man Collection [Model AGB-APCJ-JPN]"
japan Sony PSP (feb.24, 2005) "Namco Museum [Model ULJS-00012]"
korea Sony PSP (may.2, 2005) "Namco Museum [Model ULJS-45005]"
europe Sony PSP (dec.9, 2005) "Namco Museum Battle Collection [Model UCES-00116]"
europe Nintendo Game Boy Advance (mar.31, 2006) "Namco Museum - 50th Anniversary [Model AGB-B5NP-EUR]"
japan Nintendo DS (oct.11, 2007) "Namco Museum DS [Model NTR-YNMJ-JPN]"
europe Nintendo DS (feb.29, 2008) "Namco Museum DS [Model NTR-YNMP-EUR]"
japan Nintendo 3DS (june.23, 2011) "Pac-Man & Galaga Dimensions [Model CTR-APGJ-JPN]"
australia Nintendo 3DS (aug.25, 2011) "Pac-Man & Galaga Dimensions [Model CTR-APGP-AUS]"
europe Nintendo 3DS (aug.26, 2011) "Pac-Man & Galaga Dimensions [Model CTR-APGP-EUR]"

Exidy Sorcerer (1981) "Chomp"
europe BBC B (1982) by Acornsoft : Renamed "Snapper" after Acornsoft was sued.
europe Commodore C64 (1983)
japan Sharp X-1 (1983)
europe Sharp MZ-80K Pacman
japan Fujitsu FM-7 (1984)
europe Acorn Electron (1984) "Snapper"
japan MSX (1984)
europe MSX (1984)
europe Amstrad CPC (1985)
europe Thomson TO8 (1986) "Compilation Contacthoms"
Atari ST (1986) "Spook - Mighty Munchers"
europe Sinclair ZX Spectrum
japan Sharp X68000 (1988)
japan PC9801 (nov.13, 1992) by Wiz
japan PC [MS Windows, CD-ROM] (june.9, 1998) "Namco History Vol.3"
australia PC [MS Windows, CD-ROM] (mar.27, 2006) "Namco Museum - 50th Anniversary"
europe PC [MS Windows, CD-ROM] (may.19, 2006) "Namco Museum - 50th Anniversary"
australia PC [Online] (feb.25, 2014) "Pac-Man Museum"
europe Steam (feb.25, 2014) "Pac-Man Museum"
japan PC [Online] (apr.20, 2016) "Arcade Game Series - Pac-Man"

japan Arcade (1996) "Namco Classics Collection Vol.2"


Game's ROM.
Machine's picture.
Pac-Man Help file from Microsoft Return of Arcade.
All In Color For a Quarter - Keith Smith
Mark Longridge, Scott Lawrence and Don Hodges webpages, for the analysis of the 256th level bug.