With its 1980 release, Pac-Man served as the starting point of the most epic decade in arcade gaming history.
The following year, Frogger, Donkey Kong, and Galaga were all introduced. And before the 80’s were over we also became acquainted with Dig Dug, Joust, and Super Mario Bros.
Although Pong (1972) and Space Invaders (1978) introduced us to arcade machines before Pac-Man, anyone with a fondness for retro gaming or just 80s nostalgia has a special place in their heart for Pac Man.
Here, we will discuss just about everything there is to know about Pac-Man arcade machines. We will cover the history, where to buy, and the different Pac Man games available.
Whether you are looking to buy a Pac Man machine or just wanting to learn, you are in the exact right spot!
Brief History of Pac-Man Game/Arcade Machine
As mentioned above, Pac-Man’s release in 1980 kicked off the golden age of arcade gaming. Before the decade was over, Ms. Pac-Man, Super Pac-Man, Professor Pac-Man, Pac & Pal, Jr. Pac-Man, Pac-Land, and Pac-Mania were all introduced to satisfy arcade gamers’ extreme demand for the Pac-Man universe.
Although many Americans feel nostalgia and even associate Pac-Man with 80s Americana, the game was actually released worldwide by Namco, a Japanese gaming company.
In the 42 years since its release, the Pac-Man franchise has generated an estimated $14+ billion in revenue, and it will forever be the game that put Namco on the map. If you ever see a “Best Arcade Games” list that doesn’t include Pac-Man, you should be very, very suspicous.
Original arcade versions of the following games exist:
- Ms Pac-Man
- Pac-Man Plus
- Mr & Mrs Pac-Man
- Baby Pac-Man
- Super Pac-Man
- Pac & Pal
- Professor Pac-Man
- Jr. Pac-Man
- Pac-Man Battle Royale
- Pac-Man Chomp Mania
- World’s Largest Pac-Man
In addition to arcade machines, a number of Pac-Man versions have been made for Playstation, Game Boy, Nintendo 64, and almost any console you can think of.
In total, it would be challenging (if not impossible) to count all of the different iterations of Pac-Man that have been made.
Where To Buy a Pac-Man Arcade Machine
If you want a classic, original Pac-Man machine, your best bet is to search eBay and used marketplaces. Because the games were so popular, it is surprisingly easy to find used machines available in good working condition, even 40+ years after their original release.
If you don’t need an authentic vintage machine, sites like Amazon and Wayfair have new model replicas readily available.
The downside is that these don’t have the same “cool factor” that an original machine possesses. But the upside is that you can usually get free (or cheap) shipping, a warranty, and you won’t have to drive across the country to load a 300 pound machine onto a trailer.
Best Buy and Walmart both carry Arcade1Up Pac-Man machines, and many locations even have same-day in-store pickup available. These are generally multi-cades that include a dozen or more games in addition to Pac-Man, but the cabinet artwork is entirely decked out in Pac-Man.
Online retailers like ThePinballCompany.com and Creative-Arcades.com generally have multiple versions of Pac-Man available.
Can I Build My Own Pac-Man Machine?
For anyone looking to build a Pac-Man, or any other, machine, just Google “MAME” and your mind will be blown. Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator, or MAME for short, is an entire community of arcade enthusiasts that have created an open-source project to maintain vintage gaming and computer programs.
Before you start reading about MAME, be aware that this is a rabbit hole that you may never escape. If your goal is simply to save money, find an Arcade1Up machine for less than $500 and you can be gaming by this time next week.
But if you are interested in geeking out and building an arcade machine, it can absolutely be done.
Multi-Cades & Licensing Rights: A Quick Word
This is somewhat of a touchy subject, so I should preface by saying that I am not a lawyer. For this reason, you should do your own research if the issue is of interest to you.
As a buyer/user of an arcade machine, you should be aware that some companies sell unlicensed (“knock off”) arcade machine games. Many of the multicades that include thousands of games are distributing unauthorized reproductions.
Some manufacturers don’t publish an exact list of games — instead they just market “thousands of classic games included.” Then, you need to browse message boards or Amazon reviews for a game list, or even email the company for a full list.
My assumption is that the unauthorized reproductions are the reason that some companies don’t publish their entire list of games. Instead, they ask you to contact them for a full list.
A few companies, including Dream Arcades, are honest and transparent with this process. Rather than circumventing copyright law, they have recreated “clones” of some of your favorite games. Rather than having Donkey Kong you will be playing “Kong,” and Frogger has been replaced by “Jumper Frog.”
Sure, the graphics may be slightly changed, but the gameplay is identical. We give a lot of credit to companies like Dream Arcades that go out of their way to operate legally.
Do your own research with any company that you feel may not be operating lawfully.
Pac Man Arcade Machine Options
Because Pac-Man games are ubiquitous, you can choose from almost any size option imaginable. If you want a full-size, 300 pound arcade machine, there is a Pac-Man game for you. Alternatively, if you want a portable, hand-held game that fits in your pocket, there is also a Pac-Man for you.
Here, we will discuss every format and size option available for Pac-Man gaming.
“Full-size” arcade machines don’t have exact size specifications, but it generally refers to any machine resembling the size of the original Midway Pac-Man machines. The original machines are roughly 24″x33″x68″ in size.
(For the sake of this discussion, we are only looking at upright cabinet style machines. For more information on cocktail table arcade machines, see our guide here. And if you are undecided on whether to choose an upright/traditional arcade machine or a cocktail machine, see our guide here).
Obviously, any original machine that has been restored will be full-size. VintageArcade.net and ArcadesMarket.com are two options if you are looking for a vintage Pac-Man machine, or any other arcade machine. These machines typically run anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000, depending on the price, condition, and edition.
ThePinballCompany.com actually sells a Pac-Man arcade that is larger than the originals. Fittingly named “World’s Largest Pac-Man Arcade,” this machine + screen combo measures roughly 9 feet by 10 feet and weighs almost 700 pounds.
When I first saw one of these oversized machines at a bar arcade, I almost dropped my drink — this might be the world’s coolest arcade machine (although it will set you back more than $11,000). It has a stand-up console for two-player gameplay and has a massive, oversized screen that stands in front of the console and towers overhead.
The sizing of new, replica machines requires some due diligence. Most of the popular, readily-available replica machines (such as those made by Arcade1Up and Doc & Pies, which are sold at Walmart, Best Buy, Amazon, etc.) are “cabaret” or half-sized machines. Many buyers are disappointed by the small size of their arcade machine once it arrives.
If you want to buy a new arcade machine yet you desire a full-size version, Creative Arcades and Prime Arcades both sell multicade (meaning: more than one game on a single device) machines which include Pac-Man. These machines roughly approach the size of the original machines, measuring ~26″x29″x68″ for some versions and ~27″x30″x71″ for others.
Sometimes called “cabaret machines” or cabaret cabinets, these machines range anywhere from 1/3 to 3/4 the size of a full-size machine.
Arcade1Up, probably the most ubiquitous and easy-to-find Pac-Man machine manufacturer, sells multicades that fit this size category. Most Arcade1Up machines are roughly 23″x19″x46″ in size (although they are advertised as 58″ height because they include a riser). So, it is similarly built to a regular machine, but noticeably smaller.
Doc and Pies, another popular manufacturer, makes an even smaller arcade cabinet. These machines measure roughly 20″x22x33″ and are marketed as “tabletop” or “bartop” machines. So, while the Arcade1Up products can be floor-standing, most Doc and Pies machines are small enough that they should be set on a table.
Arcade1Up also makes a “partycade” machine that is ~8″x19″x29″ and weighs only ~30 pounds.
Cabaret machines have a few distinct advantages when compared to full-size.
First, brands like Doc & Pies and Arcade1Up make it very easy to find and purchase a Pac-Man machine. Clicking the “buy” button on Wayfair, Walmart, Best Buy, or Amazon is much easier than finding a restored machine on eBay, and then driving across the country in order to load it on a trailer.
Which brings us to our next point.
These smaller cabaret cabinets generally weigh ~50 pounds (Doc & Pies), up to a maximum of 70-80 pounds (Arcade1Up). Between the smaller size and lighter weight, the shipping and installation process is much simpler.
This makes cabaret machines more beginner friendly — less time spent on procurement, shipping, and installation means more time actually gaming.
If you are looking for the “cool factor” of an arcade machine but not wanting to spend thousands of dollars on an oversized machine, miniature arcade machines might be your best option.
These replicas are sometimes called “mini arcades” or “countercades.” Rather than being a floor-standing machine, they are console-sized machines that sit on a table or countertop.
Like full-sized arcade machines, mini arcades feature the artwork and graphics that provide the vintage, arcade feel. It is possible to play Pac-Man (or Donkey Kong or Galaga) on a console or computer, but it is strangely satisfying to play the game “the way it was meant to be played” on an arcade machine. The joysticks, buttons, and graphics enhance the gameplay in a way that is hard to explain.
Countercades generally weigh less than 15 pounds, and measure roughly 12″x12″x18″. These machines are easy to buy and relatively inexpensive.
Among portable Pac-Man games, a company called My Arcade has a couple of excellent offerings in the sub-$50 price range.
The Pocket Player by My Arcade is a handheld Pac-Man gaming console that is reminiscent of a Game Boy. It is small, portable, and handheld. It is technically a multicade, with 3 games included with the console. Like the other options on our list, the Pocket Player has Pac-Man branded artwork on the device that provides the vintage Pac-Man feel.
My Arcade Micro Player is technically a handheld device, also, at ~5″x5″x9″. However, it resembles a miniature version of a full-size arcade machine. Rather than the portable design of the Pocket Player, the Micro Player is essentially a mini, one pound version of an arcade machine.
Pac-Man Tilt is the final portable Pac-Man machine that we will be discussing. With a sub-$20 price tag, this product is perfect for a gift and great for kids. Rather than having a joystick, the device is controlled (as the name implies) by tilting the machine. This adds a totally new spin on Pac-Man, although the gameplay is otherwise identical.
None of these portable machines are going to replicate the experience of an authentic arcade machine. But for less than $50, it is an approachable way to relive your childhood memories of playing Pac-Man.
If you don’t want to buy a dedicated machine, there are also various versions of Pac-Man for systems like PC, Xbox, and Playstation.
Because there have been so many versions released for so many different consoles, we won’t get into the specifics. But for most systems, you will be able to find some iteration of Pac-Man.
Cost of Pac Man Machine
The cost of a Pac-Man machine is dependent on the style and condition of the machine that you are looking for.
For a full-size machine, expect to pay $1,500+ for a new model or a professionally restored vintage machine. A used machine in acceptable condition may be available for $500-$1,200. And half-sized, handhelds, and mini arcades are available anywhere from $20 up to $600.
For an in-depth discussion of arcade machine costs, see here.
For less than $50, you can get a portable, hand-held Pac-Man. On the other hand, you can spend $3,000 on a restored, vintage full-size machine. Going a step further, you can spend more than $10,000 on the World’s Largest Pac-Man (which, it should be noted, might just be the coolest arcade machine ever created).
Generally, a portable or hand-held Pac-Man game should retail for less than $100. For a mini arcade or “countercade,” expect to pay $100-$200.
For a cabaret or half-size reproduction, you can find a quality new model for $400-600.
For a full-size machine or multicade, prices generally range from $1,500 to $3,500.
In the used/vintage market, purchasing a used machine in acceptable working condition should cost anywhere from $500 to $1,200 (plus shipping).
For a professionally restored, warrantied used machine, prices will likely be $2,500 to $3,500.
Are Arcade1Up machines worth it?
Arcade1Up machines are worth it if you want a decent quality arcade machine that is relatively budget friendly. These machines are much less expensive than a professionally restored vintage arcade machine, and their lighter weight also means that Arcade1Up machines are easier and cheaper to ship.
Plus, you can find Arcade1Up machines at retailers like Walmart, Best Buy, and Amazon, rather than having to scour the used market for a hard-to-find vintage machine.
How big is a Pac-Man machine?
An original Midway Pac-Man arcade machine is roughly 26″x34″x73″ in size and weighs close to 300 pounds. However, this varies slightly depending on the exact model (for example, Pac-Mania is 24″x32″x70″ and weighs 231 pounds).
Newer reproductions, such as Arcade1Up machines like you can find at Best Buy or Walmart, are roughly 23″x19″x46″ in size. However, they often come with an included riser which increases the height to ~68″. And rather than weighing hundreds of pounds, the total weight is ~55#.
How many different Pac Man games are there?
There have been dozens of Pac-Man arcade machines, but the total Pac-Man catalogue is probably in the hundreds if you include PC, GameCube, PlayStation, pinball machines, and various other versions of Pac-Man.
See the Pac-Man Wiki for the most comprehensive list of games available anywhere.
How much does a Pac-Man arcade machine weigh?
Full-size, original Pac-Man arcade machines weigh 200-350 pounds. Newer reproductions, which are generally 1/2 to 3/4 the size of the originals, generally weigh less than 100 pounds.
How much is a Pac Man arcade worth?
A Pac-Man arcade machine in near-mint condition may command upwards of $2,000-3,000. However, used machines that are in acceptable condition may be available for as little as $500. As with any other vintage memorabilia, the numbers can vary significantly.
Well, by now you should know just about everything there is to know about Pac-Man arcade machines. If you were reading just for the sake of learning, we hope that we covered everything to your satisfaction.
If you are considering buying a Pac-Man game, start by determining your budget and the size of machine that you want.
The game can be enjoyable for hours whether you are using a $35 handheld console or spending $3,000 on a vintage machine that you had to drive a thousand miles to purchase — just remember to avoid those ghosts!