Learn the Patterns of Pac-Man

Smash your high scores and become a Pac-maniac.

When Pac-Man descended on the world’s arcades in 1980, it was responsible for the loss of more quarters and hours than any game before it. The colorful maze game with its iconic characters and catchy music was simple to learn but impossible to master.

Or was it? Not long after the game became popular, Pac-Man addicts started to realize that the behavior of the dastardly ghosts that populated the dot-filled maze was not random. The ghosts moved according to certain rules, and if the player followed specific patterns through the maze he would not be hurt. This led to the rise of Pac-Man masters who could spend hours on a machine for a single quarter…and to the rise of “How to Win at Pac-Man” paperbacks that sold millions.

You can’t find those paperbacks on sale in your local supermarket anymore, but you can still learn the secrets of the Pac-Man patterns on various web sites like http://www.hanaho.com/pacman and http://www.upcweb.com/D3B/Downloads.aspx, where you can download a PDF version of the book How to Break a Million at Pac-Man.

In this hack, I’ll cover some of the general rules for patterns, peculiarities of ghost behavior, and other tidbits you’ll want to know. Then, I’ll take you step-by-step through a pattern, described at the Hanaho web site, that will take you unharmed through the first half of the first Pac-Man board.

General Pac-Maneuvers

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