This week in Irish cinemas, we haveAdam Sandler, Kevin James, Michelle Monaghan, Peter Dinklage, Josh Gad and a whole host of famous comedy faces joining forces to take down alien bad-guys who have taken the form of classic coin-op characters from much loved video games to invade and destroy the planet! What do they want? How do we stop them? In order to beat our enemy, we should get to know our enemy!

Pac-Man was initially released as Puck-Man. The original name came from the Japanese word ‘paku,’ which means ‘chomp.’ Seeing how the name was too similar with a certain English F word, the company decided to make a change, ultimately creating the iconic Pac-Man name. If you’ve ever seen ‘Scott Pilgrim VS The World’, then you already knew this.

Remember when Will Ferrell played The Architect from ‘The Matrix’ for an MTV Movie Awards Sketch back in 2003? He claimed to have created several famous video games, and while he didn’t create Frogger he did come up with the name for it because it was going to be called “Highway Crossing Frog”. Part of this joke is actually true: “Highway Crossing Frog” was the working title for Frogger.

First conceived in 1981 by Shigeru Miyamoto, the man who also created Mario & Zelda (basically he’s video game royalty). In fact Super Mario himself first appeared in a Donkey Kong game before getting his own adventure. Donkey Kong to date has sold over 40 million units worldwide, that’s a lot of barrel throwing! The giant ape has previously appeared on two TV shows ‘Saturday Supercade’ in the 80s and ‘Donkey Kong Country’ in the 90s.

The current high-score for Asteroids is 41,338,740. It was set by John McAllister on April 6th 2010, and was broadcast during a 58-hour internet livestream. Even after over three decades since it’s been released, getting that high score is still a HUGE deal!


Originally released by Atari in 1981, Centipede was a vertically oriented shoot-em-up where the player defends against centipedes, spiders, scorpions and fleas. Basically you did the job that a tin of fly-spray could have easily completed. The game has stayed popular for years, thanks to its inclusion on early Nokia phones. Sequels included ‘Millipede’ in 1982 and more recently ‘Centipede : Infestation’ in 2011.

Remember that scene in ‘Terminator 2’ when John Connor is in the arcade, playing a VERY retro looking arcade game with lines and weird red explosions and stuff? That was Missile Command! It was also a foreshadowing of Connor attempting to stop the nuclear annihilation of the planet, so there’s that.

Speaking of video-games making cameo appearances in big blockbuster movies… remember Tony Stark’s line in ‘Avengers Assemble’ the first time he boards SHIELD’s Helicarrier? “That man is playing Galaga. Thought we wouldn’t notice, but we did.” Other nods include the submarine in JJ Abrams ‘Lost’ being named after the game and Drake’s 2013 song ‘All Me’ featuring sounds from the game.

At the height of it’s popularity in the early 80s, Space Invaders was singled out in the not-quite-verified myth of a massive coin shortage in Japan, culminating in the “Did it really happen?” story of a 12 year old boy holding up his local bank with a shotgun, looking only for coins so he could continue playing the game. Not to be outdone, the UK government decided that Space Invaders was the cause of a rise in burglaries, culminating in a bill titled “Control of Space Invaders (and other Electronic Games)” being put through Parliament.

Fans of animated shows will probably already be well aware of Q*Bert, as he’s managed to appear in The Simpsons (Bart and Lisa hop around the Giant’s Causeway in the manner of Q*Bert), Family Guy (Stewie complains about having the share the electricity bill with Q*Bert who keeps leaving all of the lights on), South Park (he shows up in the battlefield during the Imaginationland trilogy) and Futurama (he’s one of the video-games based aliens who invade and attack Earth… much like he’ll do in Pixels!).

Words : Rory Cashin

PIXELS is now showing in Irish cinemas