The Truth About Pacman

I’m in a foul mood today, more so than usual, and this isn’t the kind of foul mood where you  whine that the game you ordered on Amazon will be a day late and have to fill the time with a game you’ve played to death, this is the kind of foul mood where if you can justify murdering something, you will suddenly find yourself holding a hatchet. I’m no stranger to this kind of mood and once I’m in the rut, I’m in there for the rest of the day and possibly the next if I don’t sleep well. I won’t bore you with details as to why I feel particularly vicious today but seeing as I’ve effectively alienated and upset the people I rely on for a while, I’ll distract myself with something else.

Pac-Man, that yellow face pellet popping bastard straight out of the eighties, is probably the most easily recognised gaming mascot alongside Sonic the Hedgehog and Super Mario. You know the score, a simple game in which you are 80% of a pie chart, fleeing for your life from four ghosts whilst munching down on anything that stands in your path, including those spiritual sods if you get the Power Pellet. Hardly the complexity of Bayonetta but then less is more sometimes right? Don’t believe me? Play Bayonetta and follow the plot the first time round, I dare you. Back to the matter at hand, I think I’ve come about a hidden plot to Pac-Man that adds a little more flavour to the game, however bitter and bizarre it may seem.

I saw a picture of Pac-Man overdosing today, stuffing himself with Prozac and it got me thinking that what if Pac-Man isn’t eating pellets, he’s actually trying to overdose? Work with me guys, this may or may not blow your mind ‘Ed, Edd and Eddy are actually dead’ style. Ok, so Pac-Man lives alone in an empty maze, surrounded by the various types of medication he’s supposed to take to help him cope with reality because he actually suffers from delusions of being chased by ghosts. The ghosts all represent something, I dunno, but basically if Pac-Man doesn’t keep up to date on his treatment then he can’t escape these visions and the ghosts take his sanity, or force him to disappear in the game, thus he loses his life. Pac-Man’s visions become so vivid, he kills himself (The ghosts never physically interact with Pac-Man in the losing a life animation). Moving on from this, the smaller pellets represent placebos or out-dated medication that are of no use to our yellow amigo and so when he takes them, the ghosts aren’t even miffed and still haunt his mustard-coloured ass to high hell. However, the Power Pellets represent actual anti-psychotic drugs and so if Pac-Man takes one, he can ward off the ghosts and overcome them.

I’m not done yet because a knowledgeable gamer will now that there are 255 levels in the original Pac-Man and as the levels go on, there are less big pellets available and in the final few levels, the ghosts are unaffected by them altogether. Pac-Man has developed an immunity to the effects of his medication and now it is useless to him, even as a chemical strait-jacket for his pain. At this point, you are taking pills for pills sake and to no avail until finally, in the 256th level, everything crashes. The game has a technical goof here in that Normally, no more than seven fruit are displayed at the bottom of the screen at any given time but when the internal level counter, which is stored in a single byte (8 bits), reaches 255, the subroutine that draws the fruit erroneously “rolls over” this number to zero, causing it to try to draw 256 fruit instead of the usual seven and this crashes the game. Game over. You caused a small yellow mascot to overdose on anti-psychotics and now he is totally dead inside, his mind a burnt out wreck. Am I reading too much into this?

Happy gaming.

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4 thoughts on “The Truth About Pacman

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