With the joyous memories of last week’s time with Transistor all but forgotten, Christy laments her frustrating experience with the challenging, but frighteningly addictive arcade classic, Pac-Man.
“Did you know that the original name for Pac-Man was Puck-Man? You’d think it was because he looks like a hockey puck, but it actually comes from the Japanese phrase ‘Paku-Paku,’ which means to flap one’s mouth open and closed. They changed it because they thought Puck-Man would be too easy to vandalize, you know, like people could just scratch off the P and turn it into an F or whatever.” – Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
Oh Pac-Man. You little yellow fool. I hate you.
I hate your annoying music, I hate that mocking chirp of failure when you die and I hate the ringing of the alarms as your enemies come after you. Even worse is your silly, flapping little mouth going WAKAWAKAWAKA. Remain quiet! The ghosts are after you!
I hate that you’re so slow. Glaciers just waking up on a Monday morning move faster. YOU ARE BEING CHASED BY FOUR NEON GHOSTS WHO KILL YOU! RUN DAMMIT, RUN! Why do you get stuck in corners? After mashing the controls, you then casually remember you are avoiding death and decide to scoot.
Pac-Man, you stupid yellow chomper, what are you trying to gain? Why do you seek to eat so many little dots? You may try to trick yourself by having some fruit now and again, reasoning with yourself that those nutrients will balance out the many pellets you gorge upon, but you know that’s not how it works. You eat and you eat, but you gain no fulfilment. All you have is an empty map, and although you may be full in your stomach and the pounds never show, you feel empty inside. You can’t eat your fears.
Nor can you fight back. One touch from these vibrantly coloured ghosts and you shrink away into nothing. Only with food do you face up to your enemies. Now and then, when you eat a particularly large dot, you feel brave. You can face up to your enemies (by eating them, but you’re progressing) and make them flee before you. Still, that bravery fades and, once again, you are the one on the run.
How did you get trapped in this endless map? Are you Odysseus, trapped in the land of the lotus eaters? Have you been seduced by the delicious food and your body reduced to nothing more than a mouth hunting for the next narcotic bite? Or perhaps you are Hansel, following the trail home whilst the monstrous spirits of the woods chase after you? Now, the woods have turned into a labyrinth, and the more you run, the more lost you become until home is forgotten. There is no end to this game, this pursuit. You, Pac-man, are doomed to run forever and ever.
I hate how the ghosts are so much more intelligent than you (ok, I’m the one with the controls but that’s not the point). They know how to trap you. Like a pack of telepathic wolves, they coordinate their assault, pushing you into a corner (where you get stuck because you’re useless), and then they swarm.
I hate how addictive you are. I have rage quit your game numerous times, especially after being on a plane and seeing the nine-year-old in front of me clear the map on his TV with ease. But I pick it up again and go on with this endless game. Until I quit again.
Do you have equally painful memories of Pac-Man? Let us know your experiences in the comments below or you can email us at email@example.com. For more on everything else games and tech, check us out on Facebook and Twitter.
Next week, Christy does battle with gaming jargon, so you don’t have to.