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by KiLLerCloWn

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Pac-Man
Pac-Man, maybe the definitive arcade game. Certainly one of the game to which the industry owes the "golden years of arcade", an arcade boom during the 1980's and the growth of the games industry as such.

More importantly to us though, Pac-Man is the game which represents everything that's good about gaming (any kind of gaming) and nothing that is bad. It's easy to grasp but hard to master. Addictive and stuffed with pure unadulterated gameplay. Frustrating but always having you come back for more. Never boring and always tense, even for the best players. Always giving you the impression that you can master it but never quite letting you get there.

There are many great Pac-Man players out there but only one did eventually play the perfect game, and it took over 20 years of gamers around the world trying: On July 3rd 1999 Billy Mitchell scored 3,333,360 reached level 255 at which point the game locks up with the first life and became the worlds best known arcade player. Class!

This Pac-Man Guide
Background: Even though this game was in every single arcade I can remember I never managed to get past level 3 or so. Finally, a few months back I decided to take a more analytical approach than just playing over and over. I studied guides, techniques, patterns and other players' styles. During this time I found that most of the guides out there (I won't say all because maybe there are some out there which I haven't found and which have it all) are lacking in one or more areas. And none of them on their own will allow you to beat the game for these insufficiencies, no matter what they promise you in the preface. The descriptions are lacking, the patterns unreliable or plain incorrect. Endless hours of playtesting and studying have led me to the conclusion that there is only one way to getting huge scores in Pac-Man: You have to do it all: Study all the guides, look at all the great players play, develop your own patterns and practise,  practise,  practise.

Why You Need to Practice
I will go further into this in the techniques section, but basically Pac-Man is more than just guiding a yellow blob through a maze. It requires cornering skills and timing. Everyone has their own personal timing which is why it won't help you much to just copy someone else's patterns. You can take bits of other people's patterns or follow advice, learn techniques and fakes, but because the ghosts' behaviour changes if your timing is just tenths of a second off during the level it is far better to develop your own patterns and escape routes, based upon the building blocks of successful patterns....or follow this guide :)

Why Can this Guide Help You Then?
The answer is: Because this guide does not just give you one pattern to follow which only works if you can complete the maze with perfect timing. First of all I will show you patterns which (at least in the earlier stages) can forgive the odd hiccup and mistake. Secondly I will outline variations to the patterns which you can use in case you slip up at some point in the pattern. Thirdly I will explain key moments in each pattern which will allow you to know if you're on track to completing the maze correctly or if you're already slightly behind in you timing and have to adjust the pattern to safely reach the end. Fourth I will explain alternative routes to choose for your timing variations.

If you follow the hints you can theoretically play until level 255, if you don't make many mistakes...but believe me...you will :)

What this Guide Won't Do For You
Following the instructions outlined will not allow you to achieve the perfect score. My patterns are designed to safely get you as far as possible in the game. Not to score as many points as possible. From level 19 to 255 you will score the maximum amount of points, simply because in those levels you will not have the opportunity to eat any of the ghosts. They do not turn blue anymore after level 18. To reach the perfect score you have to eat all the ghosts and collect all the fruits in levels 1 to 17. My patterns won't allow you to do that. They will safely guide you to level 18 but they will not allow you to score all possible points. The way I see it is: None of us mortals will ever score 3,333,360 for which we would need 5 -6 hours of mistake free gameplay. So let's settle for 3,300,000 but at least get there safely without tempting cardiac arrest :)

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