What triggers a good memory? A smell, a taste, a sight, or even a sound. Our senses are our most important factor in our lives. If you smell ribs, you may remember the fair. If you see a logo, you remember the product. If you smell a fart, you remember that day….you get the point. For me, and this may be the dumbest segue, if I smell pizza, I think of, yup Pac-Man. I could have used the example of the Pac-Man machine at the YMCA, but that would be the smell of sweaty people. But good thing that wasn’t the first time I played it.
Yeah, you are thinking this is too cliche’ for the next memory. But there are just some things that I remember too easily. Like the first place that I played Pac-Man. And it kind of seems like a cheesy coincidence, no pun intended, since, when the game was created, by Toru Iwatani, who, when he was eating a pizza, saw the iconic character and never looked back. And they say that pizza is bad for you.
But back to the story. So, around the time the game was released, my family and I used to go to Rocky Rococco Pizza in West Des Moines. Another great place gone 🙁 But they had an arcade right next to where they made the pizza. So once you stepped up to see them make it, then you run over to the video games.
Pac-Man was actually separated from the other games. And the color of the cabinet.. I have never seen a game so, so, yellow. But the logo on the marquee pulled me in. And so did the noise of Pac-Man eating the ghosts. But it was a little confusing to watch the demo and figure out the controls. What the heck, there’s no fire, no jump.. just a joystick and start button. Let’s see, up, down, left, right. Hey a monkey could play this. And by gosh, this monkey had $2 in quarters. Best part was there wasn’t anyone around except my brother in the arcade so we could play anything we wanted to.
Once again, the audio was loud. What is it with these arcades and cranking up the sound. I think that was either on purpose to attract people or they didn’t’ know how to turn it down. They did make only pizza after all.
But here we went. Started to eat the dots and not even thinking about strategy, I always went for that power pill. Guess my reflexes were crappy because I remember the game ending in about two minutes. I really stunk at games for a while. But after buying a book from the school book club on patterns for video games, and watching other people, you tend to get better. Yeah, I bought a book called How to Master the Video Games By Tom Hirschfeld. Available now on Amazon.com for $1.
It was really exciting to get past the strawberry level since there was an intermission to let you breathe for a moment. But this didn’t actually happen for me until after I spent my $2 and went back to the table to eat and asking mom and dad for one more dollar.
And so the craving started. I visualized the patterns, bought folders for school with Pac-Man on them. And I even had a Pac-Man lunchbox and thermos. Wait for it…… It was metal too! It replaced my Superman lunchbox. Even for my birthday, I got a Pac-Man shirt and Pac-Man board game. This was yet another well marketed game.
But now, today, years later, I don’t have any of those things. Except for the book. I still have that and will not part with it. It’s a collectable 🙂 And when I go out and there is a Pac-Man somewhere in the bar or arcade, I am still drawn to it to play for a while. Except this time, I can play for at least ten minutes on one quarter since I can remember some of the patterns from the book. See?!?! The monkey CAN learn new tricks. And once the game is over, I’m not upset. I just move along to the next game and…
Keep Calm and Insert Coin