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Saturday, May 22, 2010

A Google Icon Game for Pac-Man’s Birthday

The special Google homepage doodle for today is both logo and game... namely, the classic Pac-Man with a level that contains the Google letters. The game is JavaScript, not Flash-based, by the way. Clicking on the logo didn’t take me to a search as usual, though I noticed a search link for [PAC-MAN 30th Anniversary] in the HTML source. The title text of the static logo proclaims this is “©1980 NAMCO BANDAI Games Inc.”

In the game, you can navigate Pac-Man with your arrow keys and try winning the game. And instead of the I’m Feeling Lucky button, there’s an Insert Coin button today, which will make Ms. Pac-Man enter the scene for a multiplayer mode (using the letters ADSW).

From Google’s sprites file

Wikipedia explains the history of the game:

Pac-Man ... is an arcade game developed by Namco and licensed for distribution in the U.S. by Midway, first released in Japan on May 22, 1980. Immensely popular in the United States from its original release to the present day, Pac-Man is universally considered as one of the classics of the medium, virtually synonymous with video games, and an icon of the 1980s popular culture. Upon its release, the game – and, subsequently, its derivatives – became a social phenomenon that sold a bevy of merchandise and also inspired, among other things, an animated television series and a top-ten hit single.

When Pac-Man was released, the most popular arcade video games were space shooters, in particular Space Invaders and Asteroids. The most visible minority were sports games that were mostly derivative of Pong. Pac-Man succeeded by creating a new genre and appealing to both genders.

[Thanks Wouter Schut and Hebbet! Also see Google’s blog post on this.]


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