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Gamebusters myth 29: Pac-Man Safety Zone

by on August 5, 2014
 

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to another entry in our Gamebusters series, where we track down gaming myths and try to debunk them. Since some are true, of course, we wind up proving a few of them. Before we begin this week’s myth, I would like to apologize to you all for not having one in quite a while. Things became rather hectic, so I wasn’t able to devote as much time to the site as usual.

That said, this week we’ll be looking into the infamous Pac-Man safety zone myth. This was prompted as somebody had asked on the official GotGame Facebook page if we had ever heard of it. To be honest, I hadn’t initially, and it made me curious. Turns out that the myth states that there is a safe spot in the maze, to your right and up (basically the right side of the middle upright “T” formed by the maze. See below image to get a grasp on where I mean). You’ll need to get into this area without any of the ghosts looking at you, then you can, according to myth, stay there as long as you wish without fear.

According to myth, there's a safe zone to the right of the "T" directly above where you start.

According to myth, there’s a safe zone to the right of the “T” directly above where you start.

Well, I became curious on a couple of points. 1. If this spot does indeed exist. 2. There have been many versions of the game released. Was this supposed safe zone indeed in all of them? To answer these questions, I decided to test out six different versions of the game. These are (in the order as seen on the below video) the original Arcade, Atari 2600, Game Gear, Game Boy,  NES (Tengen), and NES (NAMCO) versions.

As you can see in the above video, my attempts to utilize this safe zone were mostly in vain. It did not work on the Atari, GG, GB, or NES versions of the game. That said, I did have quite a bit of luck on the original Arcade version, once I cleared out a specific set of pellets. It seems like the zone wasn’t available until I ate those pellets or after I ate certain other ones (I tried multiple times on and off camera, and after I ate more pellets, even if the eyes weren’t looking at me when I entered that spot, the ghosts would still loop through it and kill me. It only worked when I cleared out that specific section of pellets.).

Myth or fact? Technically a bit of both, since the spot only seems to work in the Arcade version once certain conditions are met. It may be available in other versions that I was unable to test, but I’ll go ahead and sort my verdict by system.

Arcade: Fact, providing you fulfill a specific set of conditions (eat certain pellets and don’t let the ghosts “see” you enter the zone).

Atari 2600: Myth. The maze isn’t even set up the same.

Game Gear: Myth. The ghosts can loop through the area whether they see you or not.

Game Boy: Myth. The ghosts can loop through that area regardless.

NES (Tengen): Myth. See above.

NES (NAMCO): Myth. See above.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s Gamebusters. If you have any suggestions for myths, feel free to post in the comments or on this myth’s video page and I promise to make them a priority. Until next time, happy gaming!

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