The History of Pac-Man Animation
Pac-Man: The Pellet Gobbling, Ghost Avoiding gaming hero has been on enough merchandise to last a lifetime and isn’t a stranger to the screen with multiple animated series, games and more merchandise to shake a joystick at. So join us today as we look at Pac-Man’s animated past.
First up we have Pac-Man: The Animated Series. Released initially in 1982, the series was produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions and was actually the first Cartoon based on Video Games.
The series revolved around Pac-Man, now creepy looking, now complete with Arms and Legs and wearing a red hat, red boots and brown gloves. A far cry from the classic design already well known and beloved from the Arcade machines. Pac-Man is amongst his wife Pepper Pac-Man, Child Pac-Baby and his dog Chomp-Chomp and cat Sour Puss as family members but he is also joined by a cast of ghosts.
The series was incredibly popular at the time helped by the huge popularity of the Pac-Man name. This even caused more interest by advertisers as the earliest episodes had double the amount of adverts than a normal cartoon would, although this later returned to normal later.
The series had a huge impact on the Pac-Man saga on a whole, defaulting the character in merchandise to take on the cartoon version with arms and legs, even Pac-Man’s appearance in Super Smash Bros for 3DS and Wii U defaults to this version rather than the ball version.
Even games were inspired by Pac-Man: The Animated Series with the Nintendo Entertainment System’s Pac-Man arcade game featuring box-art on the cover. Not only that but Pac-Land on the NES (and later Wii U) for the arcade was based on the cartoon. Pac-Man 2: The New Adventures for Genesis and SNES were also based on the cartoon.
The series lasted for two seasons with forty-two episodes but also gained an infamous Christmas Special where Pac-Man and family must help Santa. The episode is notoriously bad and often comes up on ‘worst Christmas special lists’.
Pac-Man: The Animated Series is considered to be one of Hanna-Barbera’s classic series and was collected, along with the rest of their library when Warner Bros bought the license. While the US has had the series re-released and distributed via DVD and streaming services, the series has never had an official release in the United Kingdom.
After Pac-Man: The Animated Series, the yellow hero lay dormant for some time and it wasn’t until 2013 – over 30 years later that we would see him again in Pac-Man: The Ghostly Adventures. Produced by 41 Entertainment, Arad Productions and Bandai Namco themselves, the series uses 3D CGI animation to tell it’s stories rather than the traditional hand-drawn form we saw in Hanna-Barbera’s earlier works.
Rather than Mr Pac-Man from the previous series we instead have ‘Pac’ a teen who may be one of the last yellow Pac-People on Pac-World. It follows his Pac-Adventures as he takes on Betrayus ‘Lord of the Ghosts’. This series differs a lot from previous Pac-Man affiliated series or games by attempting to have it’s own futuristic like world that feels a lot more at home with the spirit of the games than the Animated Series (which while everything was shaped like Pac-Man it really felt like it was no different than any other world.)
Interestingly enough in this one the classic ghosts ‘Inky, Blinky, Pinky and Clyde’ aren’t actually evil and rather ‘nice’ ghosts who often help Pac-Man, instead they introduce further antagonists to the series. Dozens of other Pac-People and Pac-Antagonists have been created for the series in order to sell the mass amount of Pac-Merchandise for you to spent your Pac-Money on (I’ll stop with the Pac-Puns now).
Pac-Man And The Ghostly Adventures was popular enough to spawn not one, but two games for the PS3, Wii U and Xbox. Interestingly enough the Wii U versions of the game are two of the rarer third-party games on the system each of which commanding up to £40 per game pre-owned.
Sadly Pac-Man And The Ghostly Adventures’ run was cut short in 2015 without any knowledge of a future series. While a third series has been teased so far nothing has been released. Of course, in 2015 Pac-Man did appear in Pixels, an Adam Sandler movie in which the legendary yellow character appears as a villain. Despite being on the cover of the film he only appears for a few minutes as a giant CGI ‘Alien’ who eats everything as if they were pellets.
As of writing this article there has yet to be anything new announced in the pipeline for Pac-Man, however being a huge recognisable character and with ‘Retro’ being more and more popular we will hopefully see something new in the coming years. Be it Ghostly Adventures season 3 or at least re-releasing the classic series on Blu-Ray or DVD.