Some avid gamers of today are not even aware of the video games that flourished in the seventies and the eighties. Those who have a collection of retro games may have given their children time to catch up with the old games. One such classic game from the 1980s, a very addictive one, was the pellet-guzzling arcade game with the name of Pac-Man, from Namco. One of the youngsters, Emanuele Coletta, has come up with a 3-D rendition of Pac-Man.
Emanuele wanted to make something funny, while at the same time learn and apply new technology. He decided to add new twist to the project. Therefore, his 3D-printed robots of the main character and the four ghosts, while replacing the dots in the maze of the original game with lights that turn off as the yellow chomper moved over them.
When playing the video game as a single player, Pac-Man must consume all the Pac-Dots, at the same time avoiding the ghosts, as they each move automatically. However, the 3-D Pac Robot Man works differently. Here, four players each control one of the ghosts. The main character, the Pac-Man, now has to escape from the others without being caught, while the others try to catch it. Therefore, this new 3-D Pac Robot Man is a five-player game.
Emanuele and his partners made the playing board from wood. They laser-cut the various pieces and formed the maze. A number of small boards with LEDs and reed switches then went under the gaming field, and they connected these to an Arduino Mini.
The five characters each had an Arduino Uno board underneath, with the main character holding a magnet under it. They connected each robot to 3d-printed joysticks and an Arduino Nano, which allowed the robots to be moved around in the maze. Each joystick communicates with its robot via radio frequencies at 2.4 GHz.
The Arduino Mini communicates with the Raspberry Pi (RBPi), informing it as the main character moves. The Arduino Mini also knows which reed switch the main character has activated, so it switches off the appropriate LED. Each LED the main character ‘eats’ represents points, an all such information, along with the state of the game, reaches the RBPi.
The RBPi projects the scores and the state of the game on a monitor screen, so all players can keep track. Emanuele says he used and open source library named RXTX and the tutorial Arduino Playground to establish a serial communication between the RBPi and the Arduino. The RBPi also plays the original sounds of the game, which give the whole arrangement a sense of being real. The players challenge each other—whoever is able to catch the main character, wins. If the main character escapes by ‘eating’ all the dots, the main character wins.
Pac-Man was one of the most recognized icons in gaming. The game basically involves eating dots, and amassing points, while avoiding four ghosts—Clyde, Pinky, Inky, and Blinky. With the effort Emanuele and his partners have put in, it has revived one of the most addictive games and turned it into a 3-D marvel.