The game is considered important and influential, and it is commonly listed as one of the greatest video games of all time. The success of the game led to several sequels, merchandise, and two television series, as well as a hit single by Buckner and Garcia. The Pac-Man video game franchise remains one of the highest-grossing and best-selling game series of all time, generating more than $14 billion in revenue (as of 2016) and $43 million in sales combined. The character of Pac-Man is the mascot and flagship icon of Bandai Namco Entertainment and has the highest brand awareness of any video game character in North America.
Pac-Man is a maze chase video game; the player controls the eponymous character through an enclosed maze. The objective of the game is to eat all of the dots placed in the maze while avoiding four colored ghosts — Blinky (red), Pinky (pink), Inky (cyan), and Clyde (orange) — that pursue him. When all of the dots are eaten, the player advances to the next level. If Pac-Man makes contact with a ghost, he will lose a life; the game ends when all lives are lost. Each of the four ghosts have their own unique, distinct artificial intelligence (A.I.), or "personalities"; Blinky gives direct chase to Pac-Man, Pinky and Inky try to position themselves in front of Pac-Man, usually by cornering him, and Clyde will switch between chasing Pac-Man and fleeing from him.
Placed at the four corners of the maze are large flashing "energizers", or "power pellets". Eating these will cause the ghosts to turn blue with a dizzied expression and reverse direction. Pac-Man can eat blue ghosts for bonus points; when eaten, their eyes make their way back to the center box in the maze, where the ghosts are "regenerated" and resume their normal activity. Eating multiple blue ghosts in succession increases their point value. After a certain amount of time, blue-colored ghosts will flash white before turning back into their normal, lethal form. Eating a certain number of dots in a level will cause a bonus item, usually in the form of a fruit, to appear underneath the center box, which can be eaten for bonus points.
The game increases in difficulty as the player progresses; the ghosts become faster and the energizers' effect decreases in duration, to the point where the ghosts will no longer turn blue and edible. To the sides of the maze are two "warp tunnels", which allow Pac-Man and the ghosts to travel to the opposite side of the screen. Ghosts become slower when entering and exiting these tunnels. Levels are indicated by the fruit icon at the bottom of the screen. In-between levels are short cutscenes featuring Pac-Man and Blinky in humorous, comical situations. The game becomes unplayable at the 256th level due to an integer overflow that affects the game's memory.