Last time, we talked about the basic of Pac-Man, such as maze layout, and helpful tips and tricks to keep you alive when playing this timeless masterpiece. Today, we’re back at it, and this time, we want to elaborate on how to avoid the ghosts. Specifically, we’re going to talk about ghost behavior, and how each of these nasty baddies are programmed to act in any situation. Furthermore, we’ll be topping off this article with a few tips and tricks to maximize your points, and try your hand at obtaining the “perfect score”.
Now comes the fun part. Knowing how the ghosts are going to move around is paramount to Pac-Man’s survival. Contrary to popular belief, not all of the ghosts are actively trying to hunt down Pac-Man. Similarly, not all of them try to do so in a smart way. While there are some that try to anticipate the player’s moves, another ghost just will try to take the shortest route to catch Pac-Man, even if it leads him towards tunnels, or other places he won’t be able to traverse.
So, let’s break down each ghosts’ AI and take a look at how they behave:
Blinky: The red ghost and self-appointed leader of the gang. Blinky is the most aggressive ghost of the four, opting to actively chase behind Pac-Man. This enemy is programmed to take the shortest route to Pac-Man’s current location. He’s not very smart so he’ll usually follow behind the player. Regardless, you’ll need to be careful with Blinky, as he’ll receive a speed boost after a number of dots have been eaten.
Pinky: Pinky is sort of the brains of the operation. Smart and cunning, the pink ghost will try to actively ambush Pac-Man as he makes his way through the maze. His AI is programmed to always go to the spot that is 4 squares in front of Pac-Man in order to ambush him.
Inky: Known as the fickle one, Inky, the cyan ghost, is the most unpredictable of the four. Sometimes, he chases behind Pac-Man, just like Blinky, and other times he’ll try to ambush him, like Pinky would. However, he’s sometime happy to wander off on his own.
Clyde: The orange ghost is the most carefree of the bunch. Clyde seldom chases after Pac-Man, but when he does, he’ll act just like Blinky. However, when he gets close to capturing our hero, he’ll simply turn around and head back to his home corner. Most of the time, however, he’ll be wandering around in his own world.
The image above can help demonstrate how the ghosts’ AI works. In that situation, Blinky is actively trying to reach Pac-Man, but he can’t because he can’t travel up a blind alley. Pinky is trying to ambush Pac-Man 4 squares in front of where’s looking, which is on the other side of the big “T”, which means that, as long as Pac-Man is remains in that spot, he won’t be caught by Pinky. Inky is similar to both Blinky and Pinky, meaning that he won’t reach Pac-Man as long as he remains there. Clyde is simply wandering off on his own; his programming won’t allow him to chase our hero as long as he stays there.
Look Out For Blinky And Pinky
All things considered, the most dangerous ghosts will always be Blinky and Pinky. These two are the only ones with a “killer instinct” of sorts, and will actively hunt down Pac-Man, either by chasing him down, or trying to ambush him, respectively. Keep in mind that Blinky receives a speed boost after a number of dots have been eaten by Pac-Man. After this point, the player will have to be extra careful and plan ahead in order to avoid getting caught.
This isn’t to say that the other ghosts don’t pose a threat, because they do. You’ll still need to take their movements into consideration when planning your route. However, they’re not as aggressive as their red and pink brothers.
There are quite a few ways for players to maximize their scores while playing Pac-Man. Beginners will still be a long ways off from achieving the perfect score, but these tips are handy to keep in mind nonetheless. Those that put these tidbits of information into practice will soon develop habits that will bring them one step closer to mastering the game.
Save Some Pellets For The Last Stretch
As each round goes on, it is more likely that the ghosts will start to clump together as they chase you around the maze. It is imperative that you leave some Power Pellets behind for the last stretch of the stage, as this is the time in which you will most likely be overwhelmed by the ghosts. The Pellets are useful for getting out of sticky situations, as well as for helping you relocate to a safer position as the ghosts run away from Pac-Man.
Eat The Bonus Fruits
As we mentioned earlier, up to two bonus items can appear just below the ghost regenerator. The first one appears after 70 dots have been eaten, while the second one spawns when Pac-Man has eaten more than 170 dots. The items that appear on the first mostly (fruits) aren’t worth much, but are still required to eat if you’re aiming for the perfect score. The keys, however, that appear on later levels are worth a whopping 5,000 points each, and can really help boost your score, if you’re aiming to shatter the record at any given machine.
Shepherd The Ghosts
By understanding the way ghosts act and move, you can effectively wrangle them around the maze, making them follow behind you. Mastering this ability is useful because it will let you round the ghosts up so you can easily gobble them up after eating a Power Pellet, or for when you’re planning on crossing a tunnel and want to gain more time as they’re struggling to get across the tunnel and continue chasing after you. Don’t be afraid to let the ghosts chase you around. Always remember to use corners and tunnels to your advantage, as long as you keep Blinky behind you, and take care not to let Pinky ambush you, you will be fine. The others don’t pose much of a threat, but you’ll still want to be careful not to run into them when you’re wrangling the other two.
The Fabled Perfect Score
In order to reach the perfect score of 3,333,360 points on Pac-Man, the player has to perform the (almost) impossible task of eating the 4 ghosts every single level, except on those where eating them is impossible due to them not turning blue after eating a Power Pellet. Furthermore, he must eat every single bonus items that spawns beneath the ghost regenerator on every stage.
The hardest part, by far, is beating all 255 levels. There is a known bug on the arcade version where, after level 255, the programming variable that governs which level to load next overflows, and every level after 255 is bugged and cannot be completed. These glitched levels are known as split-screen rounds, as half the level is a jumbled mess of pixels which can be navigated, albeit blindly.
In order to reach the perfect score, the player must eat every single pellet in the split-screen rounds 5 times in a row, some of which are hidden behind the glitched characters and digits. This is only possible when choosing to play with 5 lives, as the level is impossible to beat (given that the player can’t eat the total of 240 dots required to advance to the next level), and therefore the player has to let himself get defeated by the ghosts in the split-screen around. Each time the player starts the level over, the dots respawn and can be eaten again for extra points.
Beating Pac-Man is definitely a challenging endeavor, even today, where video gaming has evolved to the point where some characters are unrecognizable from their roots, thanks to the advances in graphical technology. Aiming for the perfect score is next to impossible, with only a handful of individuals around the world having been able to accomplish such feat. However, with the information contained in this guide, you may get started on the right foot, and begin to polish your skills at the game. There are still a few things left to discuss, such as the different patterns you use to increase your chances of emerging unscathed from the maze, as well as a few other tips and tricks. But we’ll go over this one on our third and final part of Getting Good: Pac-Man.
Here at PrimeTime Amusements, we’re always at the forefront of all things Arcade. If you’re looking for a Pac-Man machine for your game room, or any other arcade amusement, for that matter, feel free to drop us an inquiry via phone at 1.800.550.0090, or to visit us at 5300 Powerline Rd. Suite 210, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, 33309.