Okay I’ll admit that unlike most people, I knew the ghosts in Pac-man had individual names. As Pac-man’s an iconic classic in the world of computing, I’ll pass that bit of knowledge off as trivial general knowledge.
On this picture (where they’re looking ever so cute) from left to right they’re Pinky, Inky, Clyde and Blinky. One thing I didn’t know though, is that they all had different personalities. They all have a different goal.
Did you know that? I assumed they just moved towards Pac-man in a hap-hazard pseudo random way. Apparently not. Actually the second thing I don’t know is why Clyde has ended up with a name that blatantly doesn’t fit with his other 3 ghosty pals. Clyde? I mean come on.
Oh well Once again I caught myself on the goalless, meandering journey that culminates in landing at a website and not knowing how you got there. Its like some virtual sleep walking condition that I’m sure we all suffer from. This certain webpage was all about Blinky and his friends, more specifically, what’s going on behind those two pixelated eyes of theirs.
“This is the heart of the game. I wanted each ghostly enemy to have a specific character and its own particular movements, so they weren’t all just chasing after Pac Man in single file, which would have been tiresome and flat.” – Toru Iwatani, Pac-Man creator
The ghost article by Game Internals is well worth the read.
The red ghost known as Blinky was originally called Oikake (追いかけ), which translates to ‘the chaser’. This reflects his goal perfectly as he will attempt to get to the tile that Pac-man is currently on, leading to the movement traits of following Pac-man around the map.
This pale blue ghost doesn’t leave the central ‘ghost-zone’ immediately, but when he does, he tries to extrapolate where Pac-man is heading by his current direction as well as the location of Blinky. In effect he’s using team work with Blinky to cover the escape routes ahead of Pac-man. In Japanese Inky is known as Kimagure (気紛れ) which translates to ‘the whimsical one’.
Like Inky, Pinky will start inside the central safe zone but leave immediately in pursuit of Pac-man. She (I’m going with a feminine ghost simply cos she’s pink… sorry) tries to head off Pac-man by using the current direction he’s facing and attempting to get several squares ahead of him. For this reason, she, was called Machibuse (待ち伏せ) which means ‘the ambusher’.
Oh Clyde, why do you have such an unfitting name. Even for a Ghost your name doesn’t fit.
Clyde will stay in the safe zone for a while and is the last to leave. He will then switch between two modes of movement based on how close he is to Pac-man. If Clyde is far away from Pac-man, he will try to get to the tile Pac-man’s on, in the same way as Blinky does. However, when he draws close to Pac-man, he runs off to the bottom corners of the map.
Perhaps that’s why his name doesn’t fit, the other ghosts didn’t consider him serious enough as a Pac-man-catcher.
Clyde has a more fitting name in Japanese; Otoboke (お惚け) meaning the one of “feigning ignorance”.
So there we have it. Four little ghosts that you thought were just random groups of pixels. Now they have personalities and traits.
Soon they’ll have their very own spin-off female characters, won’t they Ms Pac-man.
If a reader is feeling horrendously generous, I’d love to receive the plushie shown above. He’s so cute! Available from here for your generous purchasing activity 😉