Pac Man will be reborn on Microsoft 's Xbox Live online service on Wednesday as a final tribute for designer Toru Iwatani, who is retiring from the $30 billion games industry he helped ignite.
The new version of the famous arcade game is a faithful interpretation of the addictive 27-year-old original, where players wrenched joystick controllers to race a character -- resembling a yellow pizza missing a slice -- around a digital maze to chomp white pellets and chase multicolored "ghosts."
The new game, "Pac Man Championship Edition," is the second and final version Iwatani personally designed, and was created for the final round of the Xbox 360 Pac-Man World Championship in New York, when nine finalists played it for the first time.
Iwatani, 52, an employee of Japan's Namco Bandai Holdings, said in an interview he will retire from active duty at Namco and spend more time teaching the next generation of game designers at Tokyo Polytechnic University.
He said there were no immediate plans for another version of Pac Man, but that he could work with Namco in a supervisory position or work on a new version with his students.
The new game, which pulses to dance music and has mazes that change shapes, marks Iwatani's swan song from electronic interactive entertainment, an industry with annual revenue that now tops U.S. box office movie sales.
Despite the last decade's advances in computer graphics technology and design, Iwatani created the new Pac Man as he did the original -- in two-dimensions.
The new version also reshuffles older formats. In one mode, called "Dark mode,' most of the maze is hidden from view with players guided only by a flashlight lighting Pac Man's path.
"Pac Man Championship Edition" will be sold for about $10 as a download on the Xbox Live service, starting on Wednesday.
The game includes six new, timed game modes:
- Championship Mode: This is the main game mode designed by Iwatani specifically for the championship round of the Xbox 360 Pac-Man World Championship. This mode?as well as all others within the Pac-Man Championship Edition?features redesigned mazes with wide maze walls and a widescreen configuration to better enable high-speed game play. Timed limit of five minutes.
- Challenge Mode 1 (Patience and Reward Course): This mode is an evolution of the Championship Mode. Patience mazes strategically offer fewer Power Pellets and Reward mazes provide a large number of Power Pellets?providing unique challenges and rewards. Timed limit of 10 minutes.
- Challenge Mode 2 (The Darkness Course): In this mode, only the area directly around Pac-Man and the Ghosts is visible and the maze walls are completely hidden. Timed limit of 10 minutes.
- Extra Mode 1 (The Freeway Course): An extremely high-speed mode for advanced players, this mode features warp-speed Pac-Man and Ghosts and plenty of tunnels. Timed limit of five minutes.
- Extra Mode 2 (The Manhattan Course):A mode inspired by the streets of Manhattan?the home for the first-ever Xbox 360 Pac-Man World Championship. Timed limit of five minutes.
- Extra Mode 3 (The Overall Course): A mix of all other modes resulting in extreme mazes for the most devout Pac-Man fans. Timed limit of 10 minutes.