As Bandai Namco celebrates the 40th anniversary of gaming icon Pac-Man, fans have been treated to lots of fresh content and merchandise to the legendary series.
It started with the release of Pac-Man 99 on the Nintendo Switch and has continued with not one but two special commemorative watches – one from Timex and one from Casio.
And yet, in the midst of all the excitement, it seems as though one surprising piece of Pac-Man lore has been disclosed quietly under the radar.
In a video uploaded and posted to Pac-Man’s official YouTube channel, illustrator Tadashi Yamashita made a public confession about the popular character’s original design during an interview.
“Forty years ago, I was asked to do artwork designs for a new video game. So I visited Mr. Toru Iwatani, a game designer, to have a look. When I looked at the screen, as you know, a yellow circle was moving around, up and down, left and right, running away from enemies or beating them. It was impressive.” Yamashita said, “The element on the screen was simple, a yellow circle. I went back to my desk and started designing it. And the character you see now came to life immediately.There wasn’t much time to propose alternatives, so I submitted the design, and it was approved. Since Pac-Man is just a round shape with arms and legs, I felt he lacked notable features. So I added soem accent to his eyes, a retro flavor, to make them look bigger. Actually, I put some thought into it.”
Then things got juicy.
“I’m telling the truth now to celebrate the anniversary since no one noticed before,” Yamashita said pointedly. “I made Pac-Man’s eyes by stretching himself vertically a bit. I thought someone would notice, but no one did until now. So that’s my small confession after 40 years.”
Indeed, if you look closely at Pac-Man’s eyes, they actually do share an uncanny resemblance to the classic arcade sprite of the Pacster himself – with just some minor adjustments and a black overlay.
The detail appears to have gone unnoticed for the last forty years, but now that the cat’s out of the bag it’ll be difficult to look at Pac-Man’s eyes the same way ever again. It’s a nice creative touch to an otherwise simple design.
Not satisfied with spilling the beans on one of gaming’s best kept secrets, Yamashita closed out the interview with an uplifting message.
“When drawing Pac-Man, a carefree and happy character, I feel carefree as well. I hope Pac-Man makes you feel happy too, and brings cheer to everyone around the globe and peace to the world.” he said.
If Pac-Man can bring world peace on his 40th anniversary, just imagine what he can do by his 80th anniversary.
To watch the full interview with Tadashi Yamashita, check out the video below:
Please note that some links on this page are affiliate links, which means if you click them and make a purchase we may receive a small percentage of the sale which helps support the site. Please read our FTC Disclosure for more information.