Pac-Man gets a ‘new theme song,’ but nothing beats the old one

Pac-Man has a new theme song, which Bandai Namco commissioned for the franchise’s 42nd birthday. But it’s gonna have to sell about 1.2 million copies, make Billboard’s Top 10, and go on American Bandstand before I’ll accept it.

A news release touts “We are Pac-Man!” as written by Bandai Namco’s Yoshihito Yano and Kazuhito Udetso, and performed by Kaho Kidoguchi, who also performed the theme song for Cartoon Network’s animé Mao Mao: Heroes of Pure Heart.

It’s definitely J-poppy! But as far as “theme song” goes it’s going to take a while before “We Are Pac-Man” overtakes Buckner & Garcia’s “Pac-Man Fever,” a touchstone of 1980s nostalgia, one-hit wonder pop radio, and the beginning of video game culture itself.

If that’s not official enough for you, ABC aired a licensed TV adaptation on Saturday mornings in 1982, and its theme song became the basis for 1984’s arcade side-scroller Pac-Land.

Finally, I’m not sure I could play “We are Pac-Man!” on a street corner and get 2 out of 10 people to recognize it as the franchise’s official theme song. But 10 out of 10 people would snap to attention at this:

The new song is part of Bandai Namco’s marketing ramp up to the launch of Pac-Man Museum Plus, on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Windows PC, and Xbox One — available on Xbox Game Pass at launch, too. Pac-Man Museum Plus is an anthology of 14 Pac-titles, from 1980’s Pac-Man to 2016’s endless runner Pac-Man 256 — but not, significantly, Ms. Pac-Man or anything with her in it.

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