You remember Pac-Man? Yeah, the little yellow ball who has been the main mascot for Namco (now merged with Bandai) for 35 years now. The fella’ will always have a place in my heart since the days I played Pac-Man World 2 on my Gamecube. I didn’t like the new reboot they gave him and all, though, as they made him an annoying high school kid trying too hard to be cool. But that isn’t the point. Before I start, it’s obvious that I'm a Pac-Man fan. I originally played the original arcade game on World 2’s “Arcade” bonus area which allowed you to play all of the classic games from the 80’s. One day, I was chatting with my friend on Skype, who allegedly told me that he found a supposed version of Pac-Man: A ROM that was found in locked away in a safe in the back of an old arcade in some abandoned amusement park and extracted from a damaged PCB board. Honestly, I didn’t believe him, but he gave me a link that I kept noted for a few days later since I was busy with school at the time.
Eventually when I got home one late Friday, I hopped on my computer as I was originally going to play more Splatoon or Super Smash Bros. later. However, I was reminded of the link my friend gave me thanks to the trusty Notepad file I saved to my desktop. I opened the link up and was taken a browser page. The page itself had the story and stated that players who were able to finish this original arcade game board suffered severe psychological and occasionally physiological trauma, up to and including death of the subject (and that the ROM's effect is significantly reduced). I put my hand over my face and corpsed, thinking this was all going to be another “Lavender Town Syndrome” hoax. But I digressed and clicked the link, leading to where I could play the game on my browser so I didn’t have to risk downloading it and getting any creepy viruses, I guess.
The game loaded with a corrupted ROM startup accompanied by loud static before displaying the words “Insert Coin”. I noticed it briefly flashed from ‘Coin’ to ‘Soul’ for about a split second now and then. I hit Enter and started the game. The familiar maze board that many gamers probably remember displayed along with Pac-Man in the middle where the fruit would usually appear. The little jingle that was stuck in my head as a child played…but it was REALLY off. It started out normal before slowing down, then speeding up and growing loud toward the end while also going at a lower key. Once the jingle finished, I could move Pac-Man, presented by his iconic “pizza shape”. One thing I noticed was that I couldn’t see any pellets unless Pac-Man came into view in certain channels. I also occasionally saw a blue ghost roaming the maze. He had a sad face in the style of that of a Jack-o-Lantern, almost reminding me of something out of Ghost n’ Goblins honestly.
Munching Pac-Dots played his usual “Wakka Wakka” sound effect, but it was much deeper than usual. The ghost siren in the background was also slowed down. There were a few Power Pellets as any Pac-Man game would have of course. I ate one and was briefly able to see a full view of the Pac-Dots and the location of the ghosts. This did not allow me to eat them, however, as when I touched the ghost, I simply died.
Dying resulted in one of 3 things: The screen would zoom in on where Pac-Man had died and spin around while his death sound would play (but then condort into static), the screen would freeze before restarting, or the sprite of the ghost would flash upon the screen along with a loud screech. Needless to say, it pissed me off. I eventually cleared the first board and the next level started. This time, there was a red ghost who had a sinister smile. If he saw Pac-Man, he would charge down the channel you were on of the maze with an obnoxious buzzing sound.
I should also add the fact that the “Level” counter would occasionally flash to names which I presume were the new ghosts that were added each time. The first level was named “Blindy”, which I can only assume is because he moves around randomly like Clyde. This time, it was “Screamy”. Judging from his AI's behavior, I think the name is well fitting. If you got out of his line of sight or while he was charging would make things a bit easier, Only last thing to mention is occasionally his sprite flickered between his rather sinister boney grin to the original 8-bit sprite of "Blinky", The red ghost in Namco's ((Or if you are American, Midway.)) original Arcade Cabinets.
The next level introduced a much more annoying ghost named “Slendy”, and as his name implies, he acted somewhat like ‘Slenderman’ in a way, He would teleport around the maze at random and even pop up right in front of your face. All music and sound stopped if he was in your view. If you stayed in his line of sight he would start getting an angry look on his face, and then eventually turn yellow. At this point if he DOES turn yellow, He will more than likely teleport on top of you.
The next level introduced “Old One”, who happened to be pink. This was probably the worst of all as he would follow Pac-Man and phase through the walls of the board, His appearance was probably the most interesting compared to the other ghosts. He had strange tentacles like an octopus or a squid: and he had some strange spot on the top of his head, almost like some sort of gemstone. Also, Unlike the other 3 he was the only one lacking a mouth completely.
The fifth level was when things started getting weirder, though. The walls of the maze started disappearing. No, I’m not even kidding. They were vanishing and I could go through the board freely. It became more annoying this way considering I couldn’t stay straight and the ghosts got an advantage.
After clearing this board, I noticed the next level was exactly the same. I can only presume the rest of the game was like this now, so I ended my game here. Dying results in a screen asking “Play again?” along with a countdown. Accepting just resets the game while letting the timer run out simply printed out “Game Over” in white text. If the latter of the three results I mentioned earlier regarding Pac-Man’s death occurred, you’d get a jump scare of Screamy with a screech when the timer reached a certain point. Afterward, there would be a red screen with “Insert Coin” occasionally flickering to “Please Help”. Eventually, I closed the game out and went to bed. Honestly, I never knew a classic could be given a dark twist…at least not like this. I really hope this was not a real game, for if it was...then I really feel guilty for those who had to play this.
UPDATE: I had recently came back to this game after I saw this community's leader: Mutahar, has played this game. It had apparently been updated just recently, The following text was as followed:
Additional Repairs were completed on original arcade PCB sections N-1 thru R-6.
Technician Casualties: M. Harper (Fell into catatonic state during testing. Declared brain dead.)
New ROM compiled. Noticeable changes:
Most of the updates did list these supposed "technicians" who did edits to the PCB board all either died someway of some cause. This however caught me as it didn't list as many details as the others: So out of curioustiy I decided to play the ROM.
Playing through levels 1 to 5 weren't too much different. The sounds seemed to be altered slightly though: Mainly Pac-Man's death, Where it would sometimes play half way before turning to White Noise, Here it only played half of the soundbyte over and over like a broken record. The screech on the jumpscare was also changed to high pitched white noise. When I got to level 6 though is when things got... Interesting.
Upon entering this level the walls of the maze were back. I began munching my way along the channels of Pac-Dots, It was quiet though: The ghost siren wasn't playing in the background. I was rather suspicious and continued onward, There weren't even ghosts in the little "Ghost Box". After munching a certain number of dots led to something... Unexpected. I heard this loud, higher pitched "Wakka Wakka". Eating a Power Pellet I found out what exactly this "thing" was. It was another Pac-Man, But it was dark gray. I wasn't exactly freaked out though until after eating another set amount of dots: All the text boxes with "Score", "Lives" and whatnot changed to "RUN". What sounded like the "Eyeball" sound ((What you hear after you eat a ghost in the arcade version, as it runs back to the box in the middle)) at a deeper pitch started playing. The dark Pac-Man started moving faster, Eventually it caught up with me and the screen started glitching, showing several sprites and letters, Pretty much the original level 256 taken to a whole new level of weirdness. After this, The screen cleared up and I was taken to... A first person view? What the hell? The graphics were pretty much like Wolfenstein 3D and Doom: Pac-Dots laid around and I couldn't tell what exactly was happening. Eventually I came across.. Pac-Man? What exactly was going on here?
He was a 2D sprite with about 4 different directions, Much like the said games above. He seemed to be wandering around the maze. I was confused and pondered to myself a bit. Then it hit me...
I was a ghost.
I decided my natural instinct was to catch the yellow orb per usual. It seemed he was running away from me, But even if that was the case it was freaky seeing the damn thing coming forward with wide open jaws. Even if it's his simple "Pizza" appearance. Upon "touching" him 3 times the game window flashed to black and simply stayed that way.
Upon closing I can't help but wonder... What could this mean? Could this mean the ghosts were Past Pac-Mans? Or even worse... Past Players?
You can find a few versions of this game on the internet if you wish to play it, Probably the most "popular" place resides on Gamejolt. However, I warn you: You may not want to play it. I still love Pac-Man to this day and the original arcade game especially. But I never thought there was a darker tale to this maze.
Written by Mario123311