Pac-Man Inspires Yellow Fever

By Pop Vulture
Sunday, October 12, 2008

The original video game icon (sorry, Super Mario!) was little more than a yellow circle, opening and closing what was ostensibly a mouth and eating, well, smaller circles. Now Pac-Man, which debuted in 1980, is finding new small-screen fame online. Perhaps it is his improbably simple design that makes so many amateur filmmakers keen on challenging themselves with live-action versions of his "adventures." YouTube is simply awash in Pac-Man movies, several of them sharing the title "Pac-Man: The Movie." If you need a power-pellet fix, here's a rundown of some of the more interesting Pac-Vids.

The action movie : This faux trailer gets the award for best production values. Deciding against a more literal translation of the character, the filmmakers simply put their vigilante hero in a yellow motorcycle helmet as he defends his city from an onslaught of murderous ghosts (imagine the same sort of ragged mop-head ghosts from the video game, only fanged and rabid). Best scene: While in pursuit of a ghost, Pac-Man stops mid-stride to pick two cherries off the ground and take a bite.

The espionage thriller : This is an endearingly low-budget spy flick that features a solitary ghost chasing a traditional pie-shaped Pac-Man around town (both are portrayed by actors in flimsy costumes). Strangely, in the end, the ghost ends up being pushed off the roof of a parking garage. Best scene: As villain chases hero past a restaurant mascot in a giant milkshake costume, the pursuit is temporarily put on hold so all three can dance to Kelis's "Milkshake."

The music video : British band the Go! Team dramatizes its song "Junior Kickstart" by having its members chase one another through the streets of New York (in full Ms. Pac-Man and ghost costumes, of course). Best scene: Even while running for her life, Ms. Pac-Man can't resist stopping to get her caricature sketched by a street artist in Central Park.

The bizarre Japanese show : Swiped from Japanese television, this clip shows costumed players running a true-to-the-source-material Pac-Man maze. The whole ordeal has that typically inscrutable Japanese game show feel. Best scene: When the ghosts corner Pac-Man, they beat him to the ground with big foam sticks.

The horror spoof : In an imaginative POV switch, this story is told from the perspective of the ghosts (actors with colored garbage bags over their heads). Inky, Dinky, Pinky, Blinky and Clyde are trapped in a maze with a giant carnivorous spheroid stalking them. Best line: "Dinky's dead. He's not coming back."

-- Christopher Healy

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