A compilation of random and interesting things, musings, musics, videos, and more. Brought to you by a UChicago student with a penchant for procrastination.

Wednesday, September 6, 2006

The Ultimate Pac-Man Tribute

I have to admit that of all of the classic arcade characters, I've always had a soft spot in my heart for Pac-Man. Perhaps it's his simplicity (he is just a circle with a wedge cut out of it after all) or his affinity for little yellow orbs (delicious, delicious orbs), yet there's just something I've always found reassuring about this video game icon.

To a certain degree I think all of America can in fact claim to share the basic values which Pac-Man espouses. For both Americans and Pac-Man a traditional family seems to be central (he did after all spawn a Mrs. Pac-Man and Pac-Man Jr. spin off) and both share a tremendous innate dislike of ghosts. Yet, most important of all, it seems that Americans can completely identify with a creature of a voracious and unsatiated appetite, in essence, a complete glutton. The central goal which defines Pac-Man, is the acquisition of orbs - which he stuffs himself with - incessantly. Mirrored by a similar capitalistic desire for wealth and the general girth of the American populous, it's no surprise that Pac-Man has affected culture in such a sweeping manner. He is in essence living out the American dream - just in video game form, and with the addition of those tasty cherries as bonus points.

Having been inspired once again by this video game giant after stumbling upon a miniature version of the classic Pac-Man game (both a perfect way to pass the time and aditionally ruin your eyesight) I was moved to explore more deeply this cult of the Pac. Not only has this 8-bit character become a generation defining figure, but his fame has grown to such an extent as to even spawn it's own religious sect. And the following examples can only illustrate a continued interest this video game icon.

To begin with, a video tribute to Pac-Man seems like the only fitting introduction to the many feats of this cultural behemoth. With some slick editing, the video cuts to the many cameos which The Pac has made in television and entertainment -- and even takes a minute to address the evolution of the simple game as video game technology advanced. The Simpsons clip always cracks me up and the video even features footage of the glitch which occurs on the 256th level of the game - freaky.

But in all honesty, one of the best things
about the video above is the amazing sound track running under the sweet editing, none other than Aphex Twin's Powerpill from the Pac-Man EP. Relased in May of 1992, the remix showed that Pac-Man fever was going strong ... although it wans't an actual fever, thankfully, I couldn't even begin to imagine the horrific symptoms ...

As a neat side project for the breakbeat and hardcore electronic group Aphex Twin, this soundtrack contains some amazing remixes of the original song in all of it's video game glory. Links to the tracks below open the mp3 file in a new window.

Pac-Man (Original Edit)
Pac-Man (Ghost Mix)
Pac-Man (Choci's Hi-Score Mix)
Pac-Man (Mickey Finn's Yum Yum Mix)

YouTube is brimming with Pac-Man related videos, whether completely random or deeply rooted in cultural phenomena. Things like a 1982 commercial for 7-up, featuring a red Pac-Man hopped up on the sugary corn syrup concoction give a better understanding of the historical place of the figure - yet it isn't all that entertaining ... the following, however, are awesome.

College pranks at their finest, with a Pac-Man inspired twist. Based out of the University of Michigan through the UM Patriots. I just wonder how cumbersome those costumes were.

Stop motion re-enactments of Classic Arcade games: in this instance Pac-Man is a delicious pizza creature that appears alongside other legends - the asteroids one is pretty neat.

A classic Futurama episode, Raiders of the Lost Arcade, which realizes the hypothetical: what would happen if life were more like a video game? Keep an eye out for General Colin Pac-Man and Zoidberg's foray into the realm of Pac-land.

A cute commercial dubbed Pacman el victorioso, featurin
g yours truly in a south of the border puppet show. The language of Pac-Man truly is international.

Further projects based on the classic yellow creature have involved everything from a customized kart racers to a Pac-Man guitar, yet the
artistic medium has remained the best for exploring the deep bond we share with our video game brethren. One such final outlet, the i am 8-bit art exibit out of Los Angeles, showcases various artistic interpretations of the many icons to have graced the 8-bit screen. The place of Pac-Man among such legends is firmly represented in the gallery of works.

Pac Man in Hospice by Greg "Craola" Simkins

Pac-Man by Peter Gronquist

If all of this hasn't gotten your Pac going then there is a whole lot more info on Pac-Man compiled all over the web by people way more wholly engrossed by this little yellow dude than myself. You can find tons of emulations of the game itself - the flash version being nicely updated. For those of you interested in the history of Pac Man, check out his Wikipedia entry. If you're in it for the memorabilia - there's an entire virtual museum devoted to collectibles. Or, if you'd simply like to find more random things that people do in the name of Pac-Man, there's a blog for that. Ooh, and don't forget the Pac-Man shirts!

But honestly, what could be sweeter than light-up LED animated Pac-Man bicycle wheels?

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