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The Real Difference Between All The Pac-Man Ghosts

The ghosts from arcade classic Pac-Man are named Blinky, Inky, Pinky, and Clyde. You know them, you love them, but, be honest, do you know what makes them different? Read on to find out, because there's always more you could learn about the history of Pac-Man.


Of course, each of the ghosts is a different color. Blinky is red, Clyde is orange-yellow, Inky is a light blue-green, and Pinky... well, you'll have to figure that one out for yourself. But that's not the only big difference between them.

Now, let's start with the basics of Pac-Man movement. As explained by software architect André Maré, there are three main modes for the ghostly group: Chase, Scatter, and Frightened. Basically, Chase is standard gameplay for a round of Pac-Man, Scatter is when the ghosts disperse to their designated corners, and Frightened is a total free-for-all where Pac-Man can gobble up his enemies (after gobbling up a snack, that is). 

Though this setup is pretty straightforward, realizing that Chase and Scatter can give you a chance to regroup might be a game-changer for you. This is also where it's most helpful to understand the difference in how each of the ghosts operate.


Cute and Challenging

According to Pac-Man creator Toru Iwatani, the most difficult part of designing Pac-Man was setting up the ghost algorithm: "It was tricky because the monster movements are quite complex ... I wanted each ghostly enemy to have a specific character and its own particular movements, so they weren't all just chasing after Pac-Man in single file, which would have been tiresome and flat." Each ghost has a target tile that informs their movement patterns and where they're heading. Like the name of the game itself, clearly, all Pac-Man decisions were made with thorough consideration.


Of course, it's right to start with Blinky, the only ghost who starts outside the Ghost House in the center of the screen. Blinky is always right on Pac-Man's tail. He has intermittent 5% speed increases throughout the game, and even while in Scatter mode, his target tile is literally wherever Pac-Man is. That means he's basically laser-focused, so watch out for this little speed demon, even when he's hanging out in the upper right hand corner during Scatter mode.

To Each Their Own

Even though Blinky's enough to keep you busy, you should be aware of the other ghosts' patterns, one of whom follows his lead. Inky looks to Blinky for inspiration, since his location is based on splitting the difference between Blinky and Pac-Man's position. You can typically find this little fella in the lower right corner when it's time to scatter.


If Pinky had a career, it'd be predicting the future, because this little ghost targets four tiles ahead of Pac-Man. However, this makes it pretty easy to stay one step ahead of him once you become aware of it. He scatters to the upper left.

Clyde does things differently, as his unique non-rhyming name indicates. When he's over eight tiles away from Pac-Man, he matches with Blinky. When he's closer than that, he goes to his Scatter Mode spot at the bottom left corner of the screen.

There you have it. Now that you've gotten to know the ghosts of Pac-Man a little better (as well as their usual patterns of attack), you should be ready to conquer the successful (and lucrative) arcade classic.