Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Happy Birthday, Old Friend

It was the early 1980's. The allowance was quickly turned into quarters which were then deposited into the various arcade cabinets such as Space Invaders, Wizard of Wor, Rally X, Pac-Man, Asteroids, Donkey Kong, Dig Dug, Defender, Robotron 2084, Berzerk, Battlezone, Ms Pac Man, Xevious, Galaxian, Galaga, etc etc etc. A generally carefree youth was spent divided between the tripartite existence of sports, reading, and bicycling by myself or with friends to the nearby pizza parlor or yogurt shoppe to play the arcade games there.

And now, those carefree days of unfettered mostly innocent youth are but a wistful memory. Thoughts about how to make the 5000 point banana appear appear in Ms Pac Man have given way to logging into my retirement account online. The goal of breaking the high score on the Asteroids machine, witnessed to by inputting initials [and nothing more], is now replaced by the goal of switching jobs. The decision of whether to plunk the last quarter into, say, Defender, instead of, say, Rally X, is now replaced by the decision as to what sort of health plan to consider.

In many ways, being a "grown-up" is not nearly as fun as being a young kid in the early 80's. Some people have lousy childhoods and they might have a quite different experience. But, in a sad and wistful way, I note that Pac-Man is a quarter-century old.

As a result, I feel even older, realizing that the glory days of mullets, frozen yogurt, muscle shirts, girls with obnoxious amounts of hair spray, neon colors, and tapered jeans are a lot farther back than I'd like to think. One would think that having one's joints creak when getting out of bed in the morning would be a reminder, but I'm dense.

Pac-Man spawned a mass of marketing knockoffs. I personally bugged Mom to buy Pac-Man cereal at the store [it was a Lucky Charms clone], I watched the Pac-Man cartoons on Saturday morning, I had a Pac-Man tee-shirt, I had at least one book on patterns to beat the Pac-Man arcade game, and we were all nice to the kid with the Atari 400 computer that had the best home version of Pac-Man. Ah, the good ol' days.

Even today, I have Ms Pac-Man and Pac-Man on the computer via Microsoft Revenge of Arcade and Return of Arcade. And I warn all readers, I completely own Ms Pac-Man, having cleared over 23 boards in one game, so you don't want to challenge the PP. I do note that Ms Pac-Man never dropped the feminist schtick and insists on the title Ms and not Mrs.

In closing, turning to Pac-Man: Happy 25th, old quarter-grabbing friend.

4 Comments:

Blogger centuri0n said...

I had schtick on the feminist epistemology of Ms. Pac Man and I lost it on my way home. It was funny (to me) when I thought it up, but now it's gone.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005 8:59:00 PM  
Blogger Pedantic Protestant said...

I would've taken Miss Pac Man or Mrs Pac Man, but the Ms biz certainly made me wonder why she took on the Pac-Man surname but couldn't acknowledge that by being Mrs Pac-Man.

She's still delightful, and has kept her curves after all of these years!

PP

Wednesday, June 15, 2005 9:25:00 PM  
Blogger H. C. said...

PP--not that I've got anything against your other posts, but this one struck a chord with me. Thanks for this trip down amnesia lane.

My kids (5&6) are spending every second I let them attacking Pac-World 2 on their Game Cube. Frankly, it has very little of the charm, but it's nice to see the ol' boy still munchin' on pellets.

Friday, June 17, 2005 10:57:00 AM  
Blogger Pedantic Protestant said...

Pellets are indeed tasty after a quarter-century. Energizers are tastier. But bananas and keys --- 5000 points per --- those are the delicacies of which mere mortals dare only dream.

If you want another hopelessly addictive game [though I think it was for Sega Dreamcast] that is as cute as heck, try Mr. Driller.

Friday, June 17, 2005 10:37:00 PM  

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