Designed to capitalize on the perceived quiz game niche, the game presents simple visual puzzles and requires the player to solve each within a short time limit. Despite the game's use of the popular Pac-Man character though, Professor Pac-Man flopped due to a slow pace and an abandonment of the famous maze game.
The game is for one player or two (taking turns) and consists of answering multiple-choice questions before time runs out. The timer is a Pac-Man eating a row of dots; The more dots left when a correct answer is given, the higher the score awarded. As the levels progress, the dots disappear more quickly. Bonus questions are given after several correct answers. The game ends when a certain number of questions are answered wrong, or when time runs out.
Midway originally had plans for three different versions of this game:
- Family, appropriate for all ages but geared toward younger players.
- Public, appropriate for general audiences but geared toward arcades and bars.
- Prize, for casinos.
There were to be new question upgrades every four months to keep people from memorizing the questions.
The game never caught on. Only 400 units were made, all of the Public variety; almost 300 of these were returned to the manufacturer and converted to Pac-Land machines. It is estimated that only a very small number of Professor Pac-Man machines still survive.
Professor Pac-Man was based on a Zilog Z80 microprocessor and used two banks of 512k ROM, more than any other arcade game at the time. The program logic was written in the FORTH computer language. The game was written by Rick Frankel, graphics were created by Mark Steven Pierce and Sue Forner and the sounds and music by Marc Canter. Marc Canter and Mark Steven Pierce (along with Jay Fenton) would later start the company MacroMind, which would eventually become Macromedia.
A Professor Pac-Man character appears in the Pac-Man World series. He looks similar to the character depicted in the Professor Pac-Man arcade game, except with an addition of a white mustache and a design closer to the official Pac-Man design. Other than that, there are no connections to the Arcade game, as they are created by two separate companies — the Pac-Man World character was created by Namco, which developed the first Pac-Man game and most subsequent games in the series.
- Buchanan, Levi. Off-Brand Pac-Man. IGN Retro. IGN. Retrieved on 2 July 2010