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by KiLLerCloWn



The Basics

The Patterns




Patterns Basic Info
There are 5 patterns you will have to learn to theoretically be able to play Pac-Man until it stalls at level 255. Some of them have strong similarities so you could say there are only 3.5. Here's how they are arranged (The names refer to the bonus fruit you collect at the bottom right of your screen with every level you complete):

cherry.gif (866 bytes) The Cherry Pattern: This pattern works for Level 1 only and is fairly freestyle in how you choose to end it. The ghosts at this point are so slow and the duration of the power pill effect so long that you can virtually do as you like after following the first few corners of the pattern safely.

bell.gif (877 bytes) The Mid Fruit Pattern: Levels 2 - 4. A slight variation of the Cherry Pattern but still open for freestyling it at the end of the pattern, there is no immediate danger still if you completed the first half of the maze correctly.

grape.gif (882 bytes) The Apple Pattern: Level 5 rewards you with an apple and up to and including level 16 this pattern will work just fine.

galaxian.gif (880 bytes) The Fifth Key Pattern: Levels 17, 19 and 20 are the mazes where the power pills will not turn the monsters blue anymore. They are rewarded with a key, as all levels after and including level 13 are. You will need a slight variation of the Apple Pattern to safely evade them and to complete the maze.

cherry.gif (866 bytes) The Ninth Key Pattern: From level 21 on not only will the power pills not allow you to eat the ghosts, your Pac-Man also noticeably slows down. On a straight line he will be caught in pure speed. Since you have to level 255 and about 5 hours to go this might actually be a good thing as it is less tiring than the frantic pace of the previous levels. But it also means that if you make a mistake it is extremely hard to recover and often means you will lose at least 2 lives and the end of your game. No more mistakes from here on :)

If you want to see these executed you can download the MAME INP file here (MAME32 .53 used)

The Cherry Pattern
The screenshots below outline the basic elements of the simplest pattern, the Cherry Pattern. Make sure to read my remarks to get read about the crucial points A to E:

cherrya.gif (3856 bytes) cherryb.gif (3856 bytes)

cherry.gif (866 bytes) A: Follow the pattern by letting the Pac-Man go to the left from the start, take the turns as indicated up to point A. Depending on how well you executed your cornering at point A, taking the sharp left towards the tunnel you will brush very closely with the ghosts which will come down from the top. Don't let this scare you off. Even slightly off the timing you will still race past untouched and head down towards point B

bell.gif (877 bytes) B: By this time the ghost will be hot on your tail but no close enough to bite yet. Good thing there's a power pill nearby. Keep going to the bottom of the lane and up towards the power pill. Eat it on the fly towards point C

grape.gif (882 bytes) C: When reaching C you will see that after having eaten the power pill the ghosts changed direction and are coming back up the lane from point B, right into your path. A bit of freestyling here, not indicated in the pattern and you can eat at least 3 of them, plus clean up the 2 remaining dots on the right of point C. The way you clean this may vary slightly depending on your timing and ghost positions at the time of eating the power pill. Usually there are at least 2, normally 3 ghosts coming back up the lane right into your path and you gobble them up one by one. A third one will be approaching from point D on the right. This usually means gobbling up the ones directly in your path, then heading towards the one on coming from the right, giving it what it deserves, heading back to clean up the two dots and resuming the path as indicated towards point D. This sounds complicated and is explained in many words but it's actually only a couple of jerks on the joystick and executed within 2 seconds.

galaxian.gif (880 bytes) D: When reaching point D and turning right the ghost which you had eaten previously are already back in the maze hot on your pursuit. The red ghost will be millimetres away from you, might even touch you slightly. Don't let it put you off, continue the pattern to the second power pill on the bottom right eat it and then either go an eat some blue ghosts or continue the pattern as indicated towards point E. In this level the ghosts are so slow that you can quite leisurely spend some time chasing 2 or 3 of them down before resuming the pattern.

cherry.gif (866 bytes) E: When you reach point E you will have done most of the work. It's up to you if you want to race for the pills and just clean up the remaining dots without any danger or if you want lure the ghosts by waiting around next to the pills and then hunt them down for maximum points. In this level either way can be completed safely and quite easily with only few dots and 2 power pills left. Free style time :)

You have now...

...earned your first style :)

The Mid-Fruit Pattern

Off to the next 3 levels with the Mid-Fruit Pattern. Still not a lot to worry about, but gameplay. is getting noticeably faster already. You can see that this pattern is based on the first one with many similarities but a sudden direction change at point a. We could call this as being in the same family as the Cherry Pattern:

midfruita.gif (3932 bytes) midfruitb.gif (3968 bytes)

cherry.gif (866 bytes) A: From the start to point A where where, contrary to level 1, you will be met by Inky. A sharp 180 degrees turn before the last dot of the lane, the one right next to the red A is required. It is important to leave this dot for the timing when you get to eating the ghosts at point C.

bell.gif (877 bytes) B: Off to point B in very similar fashion to the Cherry Pattern. If you have left the last dot as indicated above you will comparatively comfortably clear the ghosts which again are coming downwards at you at point B. As before, turn left and down and off you go, chased by the ghosts to point C. Just before eating the power pill on the left you will notice that the ghosts have aligned very neatly in one line behind you.

grape.gif (882 bytes) C: By here, after eating the power pill all 4 ghosts are coming up the lane right into your open mouth. Follow the pattern downwards and you will gobble them all in one swoop for the 1.600 maximum points. Then continue the pattern as indicated towards the power pill on the right.

galaxian.gif (880 bytes) D: Use the duration of the power pill boost to clean out the bottom right corner (there might be some blue ghosts to eat in your way or you can choose to chase them for a few seconds, we're not in dangerous territory here yet :)) and make your way up the maze.

cherry.gif (866 bytes) E: Once you reach point E Blinkey will be running up the vertical lane towards the top of the maze. Make a quick head fake at point E to let it pass. It will run by you without attacking you as it's on its predefined path to it's corner. As soon as it's passed you make your way up to the top clearing more dots off the maze.

bell.gif (877 bytes) F: When you reach F you have cleaned out most of the maze and still 2 power pills left. Freestyle time. I usually do a quick up/down headfake which leads Blinkey to adopting the lane between point E and F while I go along the top towards the power pill. There Pinkey and Blinkey will have almost caught up and closed you in, Blinkey from the bottom, Pinkey from the top. Eat the pill, gobble up the ghosts and make your way to the left cleaning the remaining dots of the maze. With the help of the last pill this will be an easy task.

You have now...

...made it to level 5 earning strawberries and peaches and are on your way to a respectable score.

The Apple Pattern

From level 5 on the pace gets more frantic. The good thing is: Once you have mastered the Apple Pattern you can get quite far in the game and regularly achieve scores which will make it to the top of the highscore table in most bars and arcades. Remember, we now go in steps of four in terms of power pill duration and ghost speed. The first level after an intermission gives you fairly long powered up times, in the fourth one and you hardly get any time to eat ghosts:

 applea.gif (4054 bytes) appleb.gif (3883 bytes) applec.gif (3638 bytes)

cherry.gif (866 bytes) A: Follow the pattern fairly straightforward to point A where you will eat the first fruit, nothing much to report yet, no close shaves or stressful moments

bell.gif (877 bytes) B: Make your way to point where the first crucial moment arises: This is a quick jerk to recover 2 leftover dots on the fly. This is also where you will commit the most errors while practising. And when you get it wrong you usually end up in trouble. Just make sure to be really precise at this moment. Should you only eat one of the two don't turn back, you'll get past this point later in the pattern again, the jerk is however important for the timing of the rest of the pattern, so don't leave it out completely.

grape.gif (882 bytes) C: The rest until point C is fairly uneventful. Follow the pattern, through the tunnel, up through the top left of the maze towards point C where you will gobble up the second fruit of the level

galaxian.gif (880 bytes) D: Down and up towards point D. At this point Blinkey will be on your tail. If you've cornered cleanly it should be safely behind you to make your way safely through the top right pattern towards the first power pill. If you've been a bit slow get to the power pill as quickly as possible, disregarding the pattern, you can still clean up the maze quite comfortably with the few dots and 3 power pills left. Use the tunnels to your advantage, luring the ghosts in to follow you if you get into trouble.

cherry.gif (866 bytes) E: The second crucial point at the end of the pattern is point E. In the later stages it can happen that Blinkey or Pinkey will cross your path here if you haven't been quite clean. Decide here whether it's safe to follow the pattern or whether you rather butt out and head back to the right tunnel to gain speed and time advantage.

bell.gif (877 bytes) F: If you have followed the pattern up to here, which you should have if your timing and cornering has been clean then, depending on which difficulty level you have reached, you will see from point F that the area around the bottom left power pill is crowded with ghosts. If you're brave, you should be able to cleanly travel through them and use the power pill to your advantage. Should you decide it's too dangerous, head for the tunnel at point F and win some precious time and space, there's only a few dots and 2 power pills left, no need to risk anything silly.

grape.gif (882 bytes) G: Again depending on which level you have reached, it could be that Clyde or Blinkey come your way at from the right at point G. If they do, just stop there for a second, they will pass straight underneath you without bothering you at all and the way is free to clear the maze.

galaxian.gif (880 bytes) H: Same as above, depending on your timing throughout the pattern it could be that here Clyde might be coming your way from the bottom right power pill. Fairly easy to avoid, just see whether he chooses the upper or lower lane and follow safe lane towards the last few dots. This is not a problem really, but it's good to know in advance so you won't go into shock when it happens and lose a life in an almost completed maze.

You have now...

...made it to level 16 earning some major respect from your onlookers and already made a good 15 mins of gameplay our of 1 credit.

The Fifth Key Pattern

The Fifth Key Pattern: Valid for levels 17, 19 and 20 (18 is another Apple Pattern Level). On these levels the ghosts don't turn blue anymore, the power pill just provokes a change in the direction they're going, momentarily at least. However if executed cleanly this pattern is the most beautiful of all, as in the last third you have all 4 ghosts chasing shadows without any danger for yourself.

 applea.gif (4054 bytes)  fifthbb.gif (3998 bytes) fifthba.gif (3907 bytes) fifthc.gif (3717 bytes)

cherry.gif (866 bytes) A - C: See above, nothing changes.

bell.gif (877 bytes) D: This is where the Apple Pattern becomes the Fifth Key Pattern and this is also where it becomes beautiful. Depending of your timing and cornering throughout the level you are faced with two possibilities here (depicted in the two middle pic above): Either Inky is approaching from the left or from the right. Ideally it is approaching from the right. All the others are in hot pursuit. In either case you need to go from point D very quickly into the direction of Inky and then race up to the tunnel. This is in order to lure Inky to follow you into the tunnel with all the others. If you don't head towards it then it will disregard you and not follow. If you get it right then all 4 ghosts will follow you into the tunnel.

grape.gif (882 bytes) E: Race towards E and when you gobble up the power pill the ghosts will just emerge from the tunnel...and straight back in they go :).

galaxian.gif (880 bytes) F: Clean the remaining dots towards F. At this point, depending on whether all the ghosts had followed you into the tunnel after point D Clyde might come up towards you from the right. You should be able to sneak past him turning up but if your slightly late you might want to back up and gobble up the remaining points above you left to right before heading back up towards the tunnel. This doesn't happen in the ideal scenario, but if it should it won't upset the rest of the pattern as all the other ghosts are still coming out of the tunnel on the right.

cherry.gif (866 bytes) G: Towards point G where you will head fake foe a couple of seconds to lure the ghosts coming out of the tunnel on the right to follow you back in on the left. Ideally at least 3 of them will. Have them follow you through the tunnel, shoot out on the other side and head for the power pill on the bottom right which again will send the emerging ghosts back into the tunnel. You see how you send them back and forth without them ever becoming dangerous.

bell.gif (877 bytes) H: Head up towards point H. Approach it differently than during the Apple Pattern, as depicted in the image. When you're about to eat the power pill you'll see the ghosts dangerously approaching in your direction. just before you eat it they double back as it is one of those moments when they all scatter across the maze towards their respective corners. Eat the pill and once again they head right...while you're on your way left to clear the remaining few dots without any danger. Collective ghost confusion and a major sense of achievement for yourself :)

You have now...

...made it to level 21 and you're about to enter the desert..the long and hot trip towards your high score. Nothing will change anymore, only the Ninth Key Pattern to come....for as long as you can stand the heat :)

The Ninth Key Pattern

The Ninth Key Pattern: Valid for levels 21 until 255. The Pac-Man slows down and the ghosts hardly twitch when you eat a power pill.Make a mistake and you're history. Learn to execute the pattern consistently and you can go on for as long as your concentration lets you :)

 nintha.gif (3971 bytes)  ninthb.gif (3979 bytes) ninthc.gif (3566 bytes) ninthd.gif (3655 bytes)

Click here for alternative endings to this pattern

cherry.gif (866 bytes) A: Follow the pattern with tight cornering and eat the first key at point A

bell.gif (877 bytes) B: If you got stuck ever so slightly or cornered imprecisely you'll know here. Inky will be right onto you and there's no escape. Plus it's still very early in the level. Most likely you won't be able to recover from this. This is why it's so important to get the beginning of the level right in Ninth Key Patterns!

grape.gif (882 bytes) C: If you made it past B, which you should, race towards C with Inky on your tail. At point C Clyde will shave your head as you turn up, don't let it put you off and continue to pursue the pattern. For the next few turns Pinky and Blinky will be hard on your tail, you'll just make it into the tunnel.

galaxian.gif (880 bytes) D: Out of the tunnel and towards point D by which time you will have all the ghosts on your tail again. Corner cleanly, eat the second fruit and go until you reach point E.

galaxian.gif (880 bytes) E: Here, stop!. The ghosts are going right to left on top of the ghost house led by Blinky. Wait until the exact moment Blinkey turns downwards. The timing here is crucial! At this exact moment whack your joystick downwards and continue on the pattern. You should finish safely now, unless your timing was slightly off at point D. Then Pinkey will come to challenge you at point F. In this case take the tunnel and the alternative route to finish the pattern which is depicted in the last image. This is a bit more stressful but leads to success 99% of the time (actually it only ever failed me once and I'm still not sure why :))

You have now...

...mastered the game. Only lack of concentration or patience can stop you from reaching millions. I usually play till the Ninth Key Pattern, go through it a few times to prove to myself that I can still do it and after 45 mins or so I had enough Pac-Man fun for one session. But if you hang in there and make it through level 256, you'll be rewarded with this:

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The Infamous Split Screen Lockup :)

The Easter Egg

This Easter egg can be found in the Puck Man, Pac-Man Midway and Ms. Pac-Man Bootleg versions:

Make sure your start buttons don't mask each other.  I changed mine to ctrl and alt.

cherry.gif (866 bytes) Press f2 and go to the test screen.

bell.gif (877 bytes) Hold start 1 and start 2 and tap F2 twice real fast.  You should see a grid.

grape.gif (882 bytes) Repeat 2 only faster :)  If it boots you were too slow, start over.  If you're not sure it worked do it again.

galaxian.gif (880 bytes) Press up 4 times, left 4, right 4, down 4.  If it's still a grid repeat 4.  If it still doesn't work go back to 3.

If successful you will get this screen:

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pacbacklink.gif (17640 bytes)  pacforwardlink.gif (10331 bytes)