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Vintage Durango: Pac-Man chomps through Colorado

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“Pac Man” advertisement from the April 1, 1982, Durango Herald.
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“Pac Man” advertisement from the April 1, 1982, Durango Herald.

Atari 2600 popularized the idea of home video game consoles. Their most successful game cartridge was “Pac-Man,” a re-design of the popular arcade game selling 7 million copies. Unfortunately, the Atari 2600 version of “Pac-Man” was also a piece of crap: The ghosts flickered; the character control was awful. “Pac-Man” and the sucktastic “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” were rushed games that tried to capitalize on pop culture trends. These two games ultimately led to a downgrade in consumer confidence in Atari, which helped create the North American Video Game Crash of 1983. Downer.

Not a downer: The Japanese name for the game was Pakkuman. “Paku” means to gobble or chomp. The original U.S. name was “Puck-Man” but distributors wanted to avoid shithead teenagers vandalizing their arcade cabinets (i.e.: turning that “P” into an “F”). They argued a name change and that’s the origin of “Pac-Man.”

In final notes from video game history, if you haven’t heard the song “Pac-Man Fever,” OH MY GAWD, what a lovely piece of WTF. It broke into the Billboard Top 100 in March of ’82 and though it never got to No. 1 (which belonged to “I Love Rock and Roll” by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts), it did sell 1.2 million copies that year.

Patty TempletonDGO Staff Writer

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“Pac Man” advertisement from the April 1, 1982, Durango Herald.