Pinball: Baby Pac-Man

Pac-Man's forgotten progeny.

Baby Pac-Man is a Pac-Man arcade game designed by Claude Fernandez and released by Bally in 1982. It is best known for being one of two Pinball/Video Game hybrids developed by Bally (Granny and the Gators was the other). Instead of a regular pinball machine, the game shipped in an arcade cabinet, with a video screen on top with a smaller-sized table beneath.

Like other Pac-Man titles, the game starts off with Baby Pac-Man in a maze with four ghosts; unlike other titles, there are no power pellets available. When the player moves Baby Pac-Man into one of two chutes at the bottom of the maze, the gameplay switches over to the pinball table. Doing well at pinball rewards the player with power pellets, higher-scoring fruit, faster movement through the warp tunnel, and extra lives. The gameplay would return to the screen if the player shot the ball into a saucer or drained it, but draining would close the vertical chutes to lock Baby Pac-Man out of the pinball table. There were three mazes available, but most players found it hard to finish even the first one. That did not deter arcade operators, and Baby Pac-Man ended up as the second-bestselling pinball game of the year.note 

By most accounts, Baby Pac-Man is the hardest Pac-Man game ever made. Not only does the player start off with no offensive capabilities, but earning just one power pellet requires hitting a single target six times. Skillful pinball playing helped ease things along, but the small size of the pinball table made it fairly easily to drain the ball. Yet by far the most frustrating aspect of the game is the disregard for the rules of ghost movement established in earlier Pac-Man titles — the ghosts are more aggressive than in the other Pac-games, with the red one moving significantly faster than the player does, and all of them can reverse direction at any time.


Baby Pac-Man demonstrated the following tropes:

  • Adults Are Useless: While Baby Pac-Man is helplessly pursued by the ghosts, his parents are idly lounging around the bottom of the pinball table.
  • Big Eater: Baby Pac-Man, of course.
  • Blue with Shock: The ghosts, whenever you ate a power pellet.
  • Character Title
  • Early Game Hell: Very few people have seen past the first level.
  • Every 10,000 Points: Grants an extra life.
  • Invincibility Power-Up: Power pellets, of course. You have to earn them in the pinball portion this time around though. It's not easy.
  • Maze Game: The video portion of the game.
  • No Fair Cheating: As with many pinball machines, tilting the machine causes the flippers to go dead.
  • Non-Standard Game Over: Slamming the machine causes the game to go dead for a few seconds, followed by the "Game Over" light turning on.
  • Nostalgia Level: The first maze is very reminiscent of the maze from the original Pac-Man.
  • Nintendo Hard: This is the hardest Pac-Man game ever, and with good reason. The ghost just hunt Baby Pac-Man down instead of following a fixed pattern. The table itself is smaller than an average pinball table, making it very easy to drain the ball. Added to the fact that the only way to earn power pellets is to play the pinball portion.
  • Pinball Spinoff
  • Protagonist Title
  • Spelling Bonus: Earning a power pellet requires spelling PAC-MAN for each one. The left loop spells FRUITS to raise the bonus fruit available, and the right loop spells TUNNEL to make Baby Pac-Man move faster through the warp tunnel.
  • Spinoff Babies