Pacman is widely recognised as the game which finally lit the spark of video game mania. A prime example of this is the reported fact that it caused a coin shortage in Japan.
The gameplay is simple. All you must do is eat all the dots on the maze to proceed to the next level, which has the same layout but faster and more challenging. All the while you must avoid the 4 ghosts which pursue you.
Pacman has a form of retaliation against the ghosts. There are 4 powerpills (larger dots) in the 4 corners of the maze, and eating one of these powerpills turns the ghosts blue. While the ghosts are blue Pacman can eat them for extra points. Their vulnerability is limited though, as they begin to flash blue and white after a short time (which decreases on later screens) before returning to their original colours, when contact once again is fatal.
There is a tunnel located centrally between the left and right sides of the screen which can be used as a shortcut, and the ghosts move slower than Pacman through the tunnel.
Directly below the monsters' home, bonus items appear from time to time; a maximum of 2 per screen. These can be eaten for bonus points.
An extra life is awarded for 10,000 points.
Dot: 10 points.
Powerpill: 50 points.
Ghost: 200, 400, 800, 1,600 points.
Bonus Items: Cherry: 100, Strawberry: 300, Apricot: 500, Apple: 700, Pineapple: 1,000, Flower: 2,000, Bell: 3,000, Key: 5,000 points.
Game difficulty can be set to Normal or Hard (default is normal).
Extra life can be set to 10,000, 15,000, 20,000 or never (default is 10,000).
Starting lives can be set to 1, 2, 3 or 5 (default is 3).
Each screen has a pattern of movement that can be used to complete it. If you find a working pattern of constant movement which clears the screen, chances are the same pattern can be used on the same maze next time. Each maze has a different pattern up to the 9th key level, and from then on it repeats.
The time given by powerpills to kill the ghosts decreases on each maze. After each intermission screen the time increases slightly, but you will finally end up on a maze where there is no time to kill the ghosts, and the powerpills only make them reverse direction.
There is a place in the maze where you can hide. If you move immediately up and to the right of where you start, and no ghosts are looking in your direction when you move there, you can stay in this place for as long as you want. The ghosts will run all over the place but will never find you.
Maze 255 will be corrupted with a split-screen effect. The right hand half of the screen will be filled with graphic characters, making the maze unplayable. This is due to the 8-bit code storing the maze number, and the makers of the game assuming no one would ever get that far! This stage denotes the end of the game and this screen cannot be cleared.