I guess I'm a pretty lousy retro section curator, because today is apparently the 30th anniversary of what might be the single most important videogame ever, and I had no idea! Then again, I've been kind of busy lately to allow for proper retro-curating (curation? whatever)... and there's also the fact that arcade games three decades ago didn't have proper release dates the way we have them now.
It's not like Namco had a big launch event for Pac-Man
, and no one posted to some ARPANET message board to say "Day one purchase!" before lining up to put their quarters in the machine on opening day (sneakily defacing the "Puck-Man" marquee to make the the P look like an F while no one was watching). The best explanation I've found for today being formally designated Pac-Man's birthday is that May 21, 1980 was the game's first location test in Shibuya
. Of course, our friend Frank
also noticed that Namco's official corporate anniversary is listed as May 21, so there's a pretty good chance they fudged the dates just a bit to make it look like a big, meaningful, cosmic coincidence.
I'll allow it, though, because it looks like the company has something interesting in the works to mark the occasion. After Pac-Man CE a couple years ago, I'm actually willing to give Namco the benefit of a doubt when it comes to revamping the franchise. I'd like to believe we're past the days of aimless spin-offs that miss the point (such as The New Adventures and Pac-Man World), and maybe we are. 1UP contributor Jess Ragan
posted an interesting tidbit about what Namco may be unveiling at E3 yesterday on his personal site
Called Pac-Man Reborn
, this new venture looks to avoid the temptation to cute-up Pac-Man by sticking to a silhouette-driven design that stays authentic to the series' original look. And it also builds on the series' tradition of eating while adding a little more depth to all that wanton consumption. It seems Reborn will revolve around various Pac-Men with curious disfigurments eating their way through mazes, eating one another, then excreting (!?) new Pac-Men who appear to combine the original Pac-Men's various traits. I'm not really clear on what the assorted shish-kebobs sticking out of the Pac-Men's heads are all about, but whatever the case, it looks pretty interesting.
More to the point, what I've seen of Reborn so far reminds me a lot of Cubivore
, that strange yet compelling GameCube title Atlus published early in the decade. There, you controlled a random cube-shaped animal that flopped through mazes, devouring other cube-beasts and using their various geometrical appendages to enhance your own creature's capabilities. If Pac-Man Reborn is even half as madly inspired as Cubivore, I'm gonna have to call it here: It'll be the best Pac-Man game ever
I'll be in attendance at Namco's E3 party, and since I hate partying (I am allergic to fun) my attention will be fully devoted to Reborn. You can definitely expect more news on this front... unless this sweet-looking teaser art is a lie and the game turns out to be a dud, of course. http://www.1up.com/do/blogEntry?bId=9031132