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Classic PacMan Arcade patterns

April 15, 2013

PM_Pattern annotated

Made this today when I saw ones made by others on strategywiki; was originally just going to post it here here, but also joined strategywiki, and posted it there too in their walkthrough section.

This pattern is the one I learned from watching people in the arcades, for the 5th board (first apple) and later. There were other ones, (including one that took you right through one of the monsters at one point!) but this was the one I remembered best. It takes you through both fruits, and leaves only the immediate dots surrounding the energizers. It was easy to memorize this, because it is basically the final pattern of the game, and thus repeated board after board.

It’s the first four boards I never memorized a pattern for. To this day, I end up losing most of my men there, before I even get to the apple. (And then, I’ll be able to clear many board on one man, until I have an accident. Using keys on the PC, rather than a joystick these days).
So I’ve been trying to find the lower board counterpart to this pattern. I’ve pretty much found it for the first board (cherry), and am still looking for it on the next three. Since the monsters are slower, it basically involves stalling along the way, sometimes going around an extra block or something, and then continuing along the pattern.

On the wiki, I finally learned the different monster strategies. For the whole 32 years (this month) playing the game, I knew there must be a method to it, but never had time to figure it out.

Blinky, as it figures, comes right at you, heading for wherever you are.
Pinky, aims for four spaces in front of you; hence being the next aggressive one, coming after you or cutting you off.
Inky aims for the spot at the end of a line drawn from Blinky to the spot that is two spaces in front of you and is extended the same distance past that point. This is why his moves are so erratic.
Clyde aims for the spot where you are (like Blinky) until he gets about 8 spaces away, then heads for his corner, until he’s beyond that range, then pursues again; continuously going back and forth. Hence not seeming to bother you as much, and being “off doing his own thing”.

Fascinating!

When PacMan is moving or facing upward, then both Pinky’s target is offset by four spaces to the left, and Inky’s reference point in front of PacMan is offset two spaces to the left, due to a programming error.

Here are great technical guides describing all of this:
http://home.comcast.net/~jpittman2/pacman/pacmandossier.html
http://gameinternals.com/post/2072558330/understanding-pac-man-ghost-behavior

I always knew about the blind spots right above the pen (they can’t enter upward, unless an energizer is activated), but never realized that another pair of blind spots was below the pen, immediately above (left and right) where PacMan starts.
The one to the right also a total safe spot if they don’t “see” you enter it (i.e. following you into it), and you’re facing upward. Pinky’s target will end up lying in the wall of the pen, so he will just circle the pen endlessly. If Blinky is lower, since he can’t move up into this space, he’ll just circle around somewhere; and Inky’s target will move around on the opposite side of the maze from where Blinky is. Clyde will approach and then head off to his corner.

Here is an illustration done for the wiki, showing the safe spot, and how the targets for each monster are normally positioned; and since PacMan is facing upward for this particular trick, the targets for Pinky and Inky are now four spaces to the left of the solid ones.

Also, it wasn’t until too long ago that I realized that whenever they reverse, they are switching modes between coming after you, and patrolling their own corners. Playing, I knew that they would periodically reverse, and that there were times they would be scattered (sometimes noticing they went back to their starting corners), but eventually regroup to come after you (except Clyde, usually), but never put it all together like that. Too busy running and trying to get to the next board.

Also, created this meme today (may twirk it up as time goes on), because I’m tired of everyone calling these characters “ghosts”:

notghosts

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