Sunday, May 24, 2020

Waka Waka Waka Waka . . .

How many of you have fond memories of arcades? 

You know, those expansive rooms that contain rows and rows of coin-operated games; the air permeated with glowing lights, digital sounds, and the smell of electricity, soda, and stale french fries?

They still exist, of course (Chuck E. Cheese, Dave & Buster's, etc.). But arcades were just something else back in the '80s and '90s. And one of the most popular games you'd find within was Pac-Man.

Even though it was a game that didn't really interest me (I was more of an Arkanoid and pinball kid), when I saw a few of these Pac-Man cards and stickers on a fellow collector's trade list, I felt compelled to grab them.

I'd imagine just about every arcade back in those days had at least one type of Pac-Man cabinet somewhere inside, whether it was Original Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man, Super Pac-Man, or even the cocktail table version (look that one up).

I'd also imagine those cabinets were surrounded by players and onlookers alike. Maybe even some who felt like they were part of this team:

The cards and stickers you see here were released by Fleer in 1980, the year the Pac-Man craze began (which means this year is the 40th anniversary of the game, wow).

The entire set consists of 54 stickers, plus these rub-off game cards:

Wax packs contained 3 stickers, 3 game cards, and 1 stick of bubble gum. Here are the instructions for the rub-off game:

I think I'll resist the urge to play. After all, I don't want to get hooked and end up like this guy:

Considering how popular the game was back then, "Pac-Man hangover" was probably an actual thing. 

Here's a look at a standard sticker back:

And finally, for some audio-visual nostalgia, here's some gameplay from the original arcade version:

Any Pac-Man players out there? Any fun arcade memories? Share in the comment section, and thanks for reading.


  1. Pac Man is still the one video game (that and Mario Kart) that I have an urge to play. No shoot 'em up games for me.

    Sure, I remember arcades. There was one across from the movie theaters in the mall. It was dark and cramped because it was full of kids and my mom would tell me to watch out for people selling drugs there. But there was none of that, just a lot of lights and cool games. Space Invaders was the first arcade game craze that I remember and you'd have to stand in long line sometimes to get to play it.

    But I remember Pac-Man (and Donkey Kong) most from the bowling alley in Buffalo. My grandmother would take us bowling and then we'd head into the bar to play Pac-Man (but not my grandmother, she had nothing to do with those new-fangled games).

    And everyone from our era knows "Pac-Man Fever". Cool stickers!

  2. Pac Man's driving me crazy. I do remember and likely still own the 45. I was into pinball back then with Xenon being a favorite at the time. Mike (boyfriend in those days) and I would go to our local pizza parlor every Friday night. It's possible I had early onset carpal tunnel from all the pacmanning in those days. When the machine was busy, we'd play Defender, Millipede and Asteroids. I should find a few of those stickers for my 80s Binder. Never knew they existed. It may be morning but I'd love to have a slice of Round-Up pizza right now. How is it 40 years have gone by? Skip the pizza. I need a drink.

  3. I totally grew up playing Pac-Man and hanging out in arcades. In fact... I didn't realize it until today, but my baseball card collection would have been 3 to 5x larger back in the 80's had I saved up all of the quarters I dropped into pinball and video games back in the day. My family would take two weeklong ski trips to Tahoe every year and after the long day of hitting the slopes, my parents would drop me off in the arcade with a $10 roll of quarters while they gambled. As for Pac-Man, it was one of the most anticipated Atari 2600 games and we played it a lot at my house.

  4. I think I still have a few of those Pac-Man cards somewhere.

    I enjoyed the arcades back in the day. Pac-Man, Tapper, Elevator Action, Q-Bert, Galaga, Gauntlet, things like that.

  5. I love retro video game cards/stickers like those, very cool.

    I introduced my son to Pac Man a few weeks ago, he was really excited about it at first, but then we started playing Super Mario Bros. and Galaga and he forgot all about poor Pac Man.

    I still like playing it though!

  6. These sticker-cards are fantastic! Nice find! I was born the year Pac-Man hit arcades so it was still there when I was a kid but by then everyone had moved on to Super Mario Bros and whatnot. I did play it at a bowling alley once in a while and we have a plug & play controller with 30 old arcade games including Pac-man so my daughters have played it, which is neat.

  7. It's great when something as simple as a few trading cards (or stickers) can bring back such fond memories. Thanks to everyone for sharing your stories!

    Night Owl -- Arcade games and bowling alleys went hand in hand back then, didn't they? Your story brought back a similar bowling alley memory for me, but the game was called Rygar, and it involved a Conan the Barbarian type of guy walking through mazes and caves and defeating different sorts of monsters and goblins, or something. I wasn't a big fan, but would watch my friend play it after we finished bowling.

    Julie -- Your Round-Up pizza story is excellent. It reminds me of an arcade called Time Out that was in a shopping mall near my childhood home. They had a row of skee-ball games in the back. As for pizza, I think there were two pizza places in that mall. One was called Mutt and Jeff's. I can't remember the name of the other place, but they sold little rectangular slices of pizza and a weird-but-good pina colada drink (non-alcoholic). Good times, Julie. Good times.

    Fuji -- So many quarters! Did those arcades in Tahoe have an employee who walked around with one of those change dispensers on their belt, ready to dole out a stack of quarters in exchange for dollar bills?

    Brett -- You listed some classic games there! Gauntlet was fun to play with a few of your friends. I can still hear the digital voice saying things like "green elf need food, badly". Thanks for sharing some memories.

    Sean -- Great story! As a kid who grew up more in the Super Mario era than the Pac Man era, I guess I can see where your son is coming from. He'll probably give Pac Man another try one day, however.

    Chris -- Another bowling alley story, heheh. Excellent. It's fun to see how kids these days react to the games of our youth, isn't it? It's also amazing (and hilarious) that so many of the games we grew up with can now fit into one little cartridge or gaming system.

    1. Great question. I feel like they had people walking around, but I might just be imagining them. I know for sure they had quarter machines though. Plus the little buckets you could carry your quarters in.

    2. I do remember the change machines, for sure. Not the buckets, though. Doesn't seem safe. The first thing I think about is a tough 12-year-old pounding his fist, walking up to a younger kid who's holding a bucket, and saying, "Hey kid, gimme that bucket, or else." ;-)

    3. The buckets were a casino thing... and I'm surprised and lucky... that I never had my bucket stolen.

  8. Fantastic cards! I miss arcades and definitely drift towards the older stuff when it comes to video games. In fact, I just ordered a Super Nintendo Classic to help pass the time while sheltering from COVID!

    1. Thanks, shoebox. And good choice there! You'll have lots of memorable games to choose from.