Professor Pac-Man

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Professor Pac-Man
Prof pacman flyer.png
Arcade flyer (1983)
Developer(s) Bally Midway
Publisher(s) Bally Midway
Designer(s) Rick Frankel
Composer(s) Marc Canter
Series Pac-Man
Platform(s) Arcade
Release
  • NA: August 12, 1983 (manual)
Genre(s) Quiz
Mode(s) 2 players can play simultaneously
Cabinet Upright
Arcade system Midway Astrocade
CPU 1x ZiLOG Z80 @ 1.789773 MHz
Sound 2x Astrocade @ 1.789773 MHz
Display Horizontal orientation, Raster, 304 x 224 resolution

Professor Pac-Man is a quiz arcade game that was produced by Bally Midway and is the seventh title in the Pac-Man series of games, which was released in August 1983. Like Ms. Pac-Man, Pac-Man Plus, Baby Pac-Man and Jr. Pac-Man, it was created without authorization of Namco, who are the original creators of the Pac-Man series. It is also the last of only seven games from Bally Midway Manufacturing to run on their Midway Astrocade hardware.

Description[edit]

Designed to capitalize on the perceived quiz game niche, Professor Pac-Man presented simple visual puzzles, and required the players (or "pupils", as they are called by the game) to solve each within a short time limit. Despite the game's usage of Namco's ever- popular Pac-Man character, Professor Pac-Man did not fare very well in the arcades, due to its slow pace and its abandonment of the famous maze-based gameplay that made the previous titles so popular (except Pac & Pal which never made it to the US).[1]

Gameplay[edit]

Screenshot of the game

The game is for one player or two (in a two-player game, the player who is the first to answer a question correctly receives its points) and consists of answering multiple-choice questions before the time runs out. The timer is the original Pac-Man, eating a row of pellets. The more pellets left when the players answer correctly, the higher the scores awarded. As the questions progress, Pac-Man eats the pellets more quickly. Bonus questions are awarded after a player answers between two and six questions correctly on his or her first try. The game ends when a player runs out of fruits (the game's equivalent of lives, which also serve as a difficulty indicator). Midway had also originally planned to release three different versions of this game: Family (appropriate for all ages, but geared towards younger players), Public (appropriate for general audiences, but geared towards arcades and bars), and Prizes (for casinos).

There were also to be new question upgrades every three months to keep people from memorizing the answers, but the game never caught on. Only 400 cabinets were made, all of the Public variety; approximately 300 of these were returned to the manufacturer and converted to Pac-Land cabinets the following year, which is why it was not uncommon to see a Pac-Land cabinet with this game's sideart in 1984-1985. It is thought that only a very small number of Professor Pac-Man cabinets still survive today, possibly only in double figures. Professor Pac-Man was based on a Zilog Z80 microprocessor (running at 1.789773 MHz) and used two banks of 512k ROM (more than any other arcade game from the time). The program logic was written in the FORTH computer language. The game was written by Rick Frankel, graphics were created by Mark Steven Pierce and Sue Forner and the sounds and music were by Marc Canter. Marc Canter and Mark Steven Pierce (along with Jay, now Jamie, Fenton) would later start the company MacroMind, which would eventually become Macromedia.

Although most of the questions have nothing to do with Pac-Man, certain questions (asking: "How many left/right turns to the fruit?") show the original Pac-Man maze (with a regular wall in the place of the ghost regenerator) and a line of pellets leading to a fruit in the center, and another question (which first requires the player to study a city scene) asks "Where would you go to play Prof Pac-Man?", while others require the player to fill in the blank lower-right square of a 16-square grid, with four different fruits (or Pac-Men facing different directions) in each row. On the questions which first require the player to study table settings ("Which was the correct sequence?" or "How many plates were (shape)?"), fruits would appear on the plates and Pac-Man would move from right to left as he ate them, if they were answered correctly, and for the questions which first require the player to study the light-up keys on giant telephones of various colors ("Which number was dialed?"), the receiver would come off the telephone and Pac-Man would appear to speak into it (again, if they were answered correctly).

A Professor Pac-Man character appears in the Pac-Man World series. He looks similar to the character depicted in the Professor Pac-Man arcade game, except with the addition of a white mustache and a design closer to the official Pac-Man design. Other than that, there are no connections to the arcade game, as they are created by two separate companies — the Pac-Man World character was created by Namco, who created the original Pac-Man arcade game, and later went on to develop most of the subsequent games in the series.

Designers[edit]

The original idea of Professor Pac-Man came from two well-known industry figures, world champion foosball player Johnny Lott, and Ed Adlum, the publisher of RePlay. They approached Bally Midway with the idea, only to be told that the company had no interest. A few months later, Lott, working the National AMOA Trade Show (in Chicago, Illinois), noticed several Professor Pac-Man cabinets on display. He threatened legal action, and Bally Midway agreed to a simple royalty contract. The gameplay was dissimilar to the more complex Lott-Adlum proposed design (which was much closer to a traditional videogame, and featured questions being eaten by the Pac-Man character instead of pellets), and failed to create much interest in the marketplace.[citation needed]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Buchanan, Levi. "Off-Brand Pac-Man". IGN Retro. IGN. Retrieved 2 July 2010. 

External links[edit]