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In video gaming, Pac-Man clones are unauthorized versions of Namco's popular maze chase arcade video game Pac-Man or games that wholesale borrow the design of Pac-Man. The combined sales of counterfeit arcade machines sold nearly as many units as the original Pac-Man, which had sold more than 300,000 machines.[1]

Like the original game, Pac-Man clones typically have the goal of clearing a maze of dots while eluding deadly adversaries. When special dots are eaten, the protagonist can chase and consume the pursuers for a brief period. Clones may vary the audio/visual theme, use different maze layouts, slightly tweak features, or even invert elements such as filling the maze rather than emptying it, but they have the same general feel of Pac-Man.

The Giant List of Classic Game Programmers lists 57 Pac-Man clones released for various platforms.[2]

Arcade clones

Lock 'n' Chase (1981) was developed and published by Data East in Japan and later in North America by Taito. Here, Pac-Man is replaced with a thief stealing coins from a bank vault. The ghosts are police, and the thief can temporarily block passages with doors. It was licensed to Mattel, which released Intellivision and Atari 2600 versions in 1982.

Mighty Mouth is a game by A-1 Machines that District Court Judge Warren Keith Urbom described as "for all practical purposes, identical to ...Pac-Man"[3] Among the similarities cited were the color and shape of the player character and ghosts, the maze configurations, the sound effects, the paths of the characters in the attract mode and the paths of the characters in both the attract mode and a game where the player does not move.[4] Midway, owners of the Pac-Man copyrights, were granted summary judgment for copyright and trademark infringement in 1983.[5]

Piranha (1981) was released by GL. The central character is a dot-chomping piranha, and squid creatures replace the ghost monsters.

The Hand (1981) was released by TIC. The central character is a dot-chomping hand, and the ghost monsters are replaced by hands representing Rock (a fist), Paper (splayed fingers), and Scissors (two fingers outstretched).

Thief (1981) was released by Pacific Novelty. The central character is the titular Thief in a getaway vehicle, while police officers in cars replace the ghost monsters. Thief uses scripted radio communications between the officers, played from a cassette tape inside the arcade cabinet.

Contemporary home system clones

Taxman (1981) for the Apple II was programmed by Brian Fitzgerald.[6] Atari sued Fitzgerald and he sold the port to Atari, which the company ended up selling as a licensed version of the game.

Ghost Hunter (1981) from Arcade Plus is a clone for the Atari 8-bit computers that plays The Twilight Zone theme at the start of the game.

Jawbreaker (1981) for the Atari 8-bit computers re-themed the gameplay, winning a best action game award in 1983.[citation needed] Atari threatened to sue the publishers, Sierra On-Line, but they released the game anyway. They won the ensuing lawsuit.

K.C. Munchkin! (1981) for the Magnavox Odyssey². In the 1982 case Atari, Inc. v. North American Philips Consumer Electronics Corp., an Appellate court found that Phillips had copied Pac-Man and made alterations that "only tend to emphasize the extent to which it deliberately copied the Plaintiff's work." The ruling was one of the first to establish how copyright law would apply to the look and feel of computer software.

Scarfman (1981) for the TRS-80

Gobble a Ghost (1982, CDS Micro Systems) for the ZX Spectrum

Hungry Horace (1982) for the ZX Spectrum

Munch Man (1982) is a clone from Texas Instruments for the TI-99/4A home computer. Instead of clearing a maze, the player fills it with "links" (in Munch Man parlance)—a change made by TI to avoid possible lawsuits.

Snack Attack (1982) is a clone for the Apple II written by Dan Illowsky and published by Datamost.[6] It became a top selling game for the Apple II.[7]

Snapper (1982). The initial release for the BBC Micro and Acorn Electron,[8] by Acornsoft,[9][10] was so close to Pac-Man (including the design of the game's characters) that this version had to be withdrawn and re-released with the characters changed.[11][12] The player's character became a round yellow face with very short legs wearing a green cowboy hat and the ghosts became skinny humanoid monsters.

CatChum (1981) was developed by Yahoo Software for Kaypro's luggable computers. It is a text-based game which uses dashes and various punctuation marks to construct a maze. The letter A serves as ghosts and the fruits are dollar signs. The main character is a letter C which alternates between upper and lower case, to simulate chomping.

3-Demon (1983) is a 3D vector-graphics Pac-Man clone developed by PC Research for MS-DOS. The game is placed in a 3D first-person perspective, with the ghosts being cyclopean demons.

Jelly Monsters (1981) for the VIC-20 is a port of Namco's Pac-Man by HAL Laboratory who had the home computer rights to Namco's games in Japan at the time. When the games were released in North America, the names were changed to avoid legal issues with Atari, Inc. who had the home computer rights in North America. Jelly Monsters for the VIC-20 was published by Commodore International. Atari ended up suing HAL and Commodore anyway and won the lawsuit, after which Atari pulled off HAL's VIC-20 port and released their own version.

Devil World (1984) for the Famicom was designed by Shigeru Miyamoto.[13]

Mini and mainframe clones

PAC running on a CDC 6600

Pac-Man is a clone for the Xerox Alto, the first computer with a mouse-driven Graphical User Interface. The main character is controlled with a mouse.

PAC is a clone for the CDC 6000 series of mainframe computers.

See also


  1. ^ Leonard Herman; Jer Horwitz; Steve Kent; Skyler Miller (2002). "The History of Video Games" (PDF). GameSpot. p. 7. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 April 2012. Retrieved 14 March 2012.
  2. ^ Hague, James (April 13, 2021). "The Giant List of Classic Game Programmers". Dadgum. Retrieved 20 April 2021.
  3. ^ Midway Mfg. Co. v. Dirkschneider (Dirkschneider I), 543 F.Supp. 466, 477 (D. Neb. 1981)
  4. ^ Dirkschneider I, 543 F.Supp. at 477
  5. ^ Midway Mfg. Co. v. Dirkschneider (Dirkschneider II), 571 F.Supp. 282 (D. Neb. 1983)
  6. ^ a b Hague, James. "The Giant List of Classic Game Programmers".
  7. ^ "Inside the Industry" (PDF). Computer Gaming World. September–October 1982. p. 2. Retrieved 2016-03-28.
  8. ^ Jackson, Jane (December 1983). "The Micro User Games Software Review: Snapper Acornsoft". The Micro User (Issue 1-10). Retrieved 2010-10-03. SNAPPER is an attractive and incredibly frustrating version of Pacman.
  9. ^ Edwards, Dave A. "Snapper". Archived from the original on 2011-04-27. Retrieved 2010-10-03. 1983: SNAPPER, Acornsoft, £9.20 (Tape), £16.50 (ROM Cart)
  10. ^ Reed, Martin. "Electron Games Reviews: Play it Again Sam 7". Electron User (Issue 6.9). Retrieved 2010-10-03. SNAPPER, Acornsoft's implementation of the ever-popular Pac Man, was one of the first games ever released for the Electron.
  11. ^ Robinson, Oliver. "Only the Best BBC Micro Games". Retrieved 2010-10-03. Snapper was one of the first Video Arcade Conversions made for the BBC by AcornSoft.
  12. ^ Reeves, Alex. "Classic Retro Games". Retro Gamer. Archived from the original on 2010-06-16. Retrieved 2010-10-03. This is one of the many quality arcade conversions that Acornsoft created for the BBC Micro, being a very faithful example of Pac Man.
  13. ^ Dan Whitehead (2008-11-17). "Virtual Console Roundup". Eurogamer. Retrieved 2010-04-28.