Okay, so you probably saw that punchline coming from a mile off. The trouble is that Pacman is such an iconic and recognisable character that even a hint at his shape is a dead give away. Add in a bit of flat yellow, and the eyes that are styled as miniatures of the body, and it’s virtually impossible to just hint at the character without making it too obvious. Perhaps I should have disguised it as a Death-Star-cum-Saturnian-moon.

But it’s that same iconic nature of Pacman which makes the game an ideal target for a Greys comic. We’re nominally sci-fi themed, so sometimes veer into territory that only sci-fi nerds will understand. But we also try to make the majority of our strips accessible to everyone, whether they’re “into” sci-fi or not. That’s why most of our sci-fi jokes revolve around the well-known franchises such as Star Trek, Star Wars or Doctor Who (well-known in the UK, at least). And if we want to drag other pop-culture icons into the mix, who better to kidnap from the videogame world than Pacman. Everyone knows the character. Everyone knows the game. Perfect.

My own induction to the game probably took place on the old cocktail cabinet that lived at the local working man’s club – a regular haunt for my parents and their young offspring on Sunday afternoons in the late seventies and early eighties. I definitely remember playing a few different arcade games on that machine over the years, but can’t say with 100% certainty that Pacman was amongst them.

I do, however, clearly remember my Uncle’s Atari 2600. At the time it was new and expensive, so occasional family visits were the only chance I had to play on one. Although the 2600 port of Pacman is generally reviled as being a poor imitation of the arcade original, as a 10-year-old with little access to videogames or arcades (other than a game or two on that cocktail cab every Sunday) any sort of gaming experience was a source of wonder. Pacman on that 2600 captured my imagination like no game before it – perhaps fuelled by the fact that I was actually pretty good at it – and was probably the catalyst that resulted in sufficient begging and pleading that we bought our own 2600 not long after first playing it at my Uncle’s house.

Over the years we went through a couple of walnut dash 2600s, and a 2600 Jr. My parents still have one in the loft somewhere – I really should kidnap it off them. Thanks to Stella I’ve been able to play many of the games I grew up with – including the Atari port of Pacman. But thanks to MAME, hooked up to a real arcade cabinet via a J-PAC interface I’ve also been able to play the original arcade version. It’s a testament to the addictive simplicity of the game that it’s one of my most frequently played arcade games – and now that I can play both side-by-side… yes, the 2600 port really was quite bad after all.

Cette bande dessinée est aussi disponible en français
This comic is also available in French

Komik ini juga tersedia dalam Bahasa Indonesia
This comic is also available in Indonesian

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↓ Transcript
[Caption: Captain's log, stardate 4542.3: Running low on power, we have followed a sensor reading indicating a large source of dilithium crystals, which has taken us into a series of nebulas.

Passage through these is slow, as we are impeded by walls of high energy particles, forcing us to pick our way through a maze of low intensity conduits.

To make matters worse, the dilithium crystals are sparsely distributed as small pellet-like clusters, yielding barely enough power to keep going. And the nebulas seem to be home to a species of malevolent energy beings, intent on our destruction]

G1: Sir, the creature has detected us, and is closing fast.

G2: Take evasive action!

G1: It's no use Sir, it's still gaining on us.

G3: Detectors are indicating a larger mass of dilithium crystals nearby. If we can just make it, we might have enough power for limited offensive action.

G2: Make it so.

G3: We're almost there... the crystals are in the mouth of the particle-scoop... got them! Power has increased temporarily, Sir.

G2: Right, let's attack while we can. Ensign, turn us through 180° and aim straight for the energy being.

[Scene shows that they're piloting Pacman, and are now chasing a ghost]