Pac-Man Fever Forever

1981 Records

Pac-Man Fever wasn't just a song or album, it was an international phenomenon. The album and the single were released in several formats, both around the U.S.A. and the world. It appears Atari was behind several international releases to help promote their version of Pac-Man for the Atari 2600 console. This page lists all the versions of the single or album performed by Buckner and Garcia in 1981 that I'm aware of.

The Album

Pac-Man Fever Album
Photo courtesy
Rodney Siddall

The tracks on the album were as follows:

The full credits from the back of the album and lyrics for all the songs are available on this site.

For anyone not of the proper age, the songs were about the following video games: Pac-man, Frogger, Centipede, Donkey Kong, Asteroids, Defender, Mousetrap, and Berzerk. An interesting thing to note was that all of these games had sequels, except for Mousetrap and Frogger. (Although Frogger did have a sequel on the home systems of the day called "Frogger II: Threedeep!".) The other sequels were Ms. Pac-Man (& others), Millipede, Donkey Kong Jr. (& others), Asteroids Deluxe, Stargate, and Frenzy, respectively. I always wished Buckner & Garcia had recorded a sequel album using these games, perhaps filling in the two gaps with two other games. Oh, well . . . (*sigh*).

Album sleeve side one (click for larger version) Album sleeve side two (click for larger version)
Scans courtesy Rodney Siddall

The album had one unique feature worth mentioning. The sleeve had patterns for the arcade game printed on either side. (Click on the picture of each for a bigger view. If that's not good enough, try these even larger versions: side one and side two.) These patterns were created by Edgel & Chuck Groves. Midway had already introduced a newer, more difficult version of Pac-Man by this time. There were no external markings to identify machines with the newer version, but good players could tell them apart. They were generally referred to as "slow" or "fast machines."

For slow machines, there was one pattern for the first board (cherries), another for the second through fourth (strawberry and orange), and a choice of three different patterns for the rest of the boards, up to the ninth key. These same three patterns could also be used on slow machines from the orange board up to the "3rd or 4th key, depend[ing] on [the] machine."

I was once often asked where one can find this wonderful album. When I first created this page back in 1994, my standard answer was to search thrift stores, flea markets, and garage sales. (Note that the album was released on record, cassette, and 8-track.) Nowdays I recommend you check sites like eBay. (Thanks to Chris Craft for pointing out this wasn't mentioned yet.) For your convenience, I have created the search for you.

8-Track (click for larger version)
Photo courtesy Tim Peters

Let me make one note about the 8-track version. When the first one was noticed on eBay, there was some skepticism as to whether it was genuine. While the label had the same photo as the other versions of the album, the title text was different. However, other copies have turned up since and the prices they draw hardly makes it worth faking them. I've seen enough evidence now to feel confident saying they are legitimate.

The Singles

Before the CBS/Columbia single and album, Buckner and Garcia's title appeared on their own label as a 45 single. It was BGO 1001, which I believe was the label's only release. Just like the Columbia release, this one featured an instrumental version on the B side.

Pac-Man Fever 45 Pac-Man Fever picture disc (click for another version)
Photos courtesy the Virtual Pac-Man Museum

The regular "Pac-Man Fever" single, to the best of my knowledge, was only released on 45. The B side was an instrumental version of "Pac-Man Fever". (Thanks to Jason McIntyre for that tidbit.) Note that there were actually two versions of this single on 45. The songs were identical, but one featured a standard sleeve and record. The other featured a clear sleeve with a square picture disc of the Pac-Man screen. The picture disc is somewhat rarer today and certainly more in demand, but with patience you'll eventually get one on eBay if you really want it.

There was also a 12" version of the "Pac-Man Fever" single released. The A side had the "Club Mix" version. This version was basically the instrumental with a verse or so added. (That is, repeated.) The B side was the same instrumental as appears on the back of the 45. My particular copy (from eBay) came in the normal album cover, but I don't believe that was how it was originally distributed.

The second (and only other) single released off the album was "Do the Donkey Kong". It's B side was an instrumental version of the A side, which is the only way to get the instrumental version. (Thanks to Eric Paul Johnson for the info.) This 45 was released in a picture sleeve featuring a Donkey Kong screenshot.

Scott Lindberg informed me there was a re-release 45 with "Pac-Man Fever" on the A side and "Do the Donkey Kong" on the B side. It was part of the "Columbia Hall of Fame" label and appears to be rarer than the other Pac-Man Fever 45s.

International

Pac-Man Fever's popularity was not limited to the U.S.A. or even North America. The album and/or single was released all over the world. They were all the original English versions with one exception. For Japan, where Pac-Man had originated and was known as PuckMan (or Puc-Man), Buckner and Garcia recorded a special version of "Puc-Man Fever." Only the name Pac-Man was changed to Puc-Man. All the rest of the lyrics were the same. (There were also German, Finnish, and other versions of "Pac-Man Fever" recorded, but not by Buckner & Garcia. See the other versions section.)

Below is a gallery of some of the international versions that have been seen on eBay or elsewhere. Piero Cavina told me of the "Pac-Man Fever"/"Froggy's Lament" 45 released in Italy before I ever actually saw a photo of one.

Australian single
Australia
Italian single
Italy
Japanese single (click for larger version)
Japan (courtesy Edd Burns)
Dutch single
Netherlands
British single
United Kingdom

The Song

If you just want to get "Pac-Man Fever," the song, on CD, I only know of three CDs that definitely have the original version: Seems Like Yesterday Vol. IV (K-Tel, 1990; info courtesy Gregg Alley, who got "Pac-Man Fever" to be the number two choice for his junior prom's theme in 1982), Madcap Melodies (K-Tel, 1996; info courtesy Joaquin Lopez), and disc 3 of the Like, Omigod! The '80s Pop Culture Box (Totally) box set (Rhino, 2002). You might be able to still find these CDs used.

Seems Like Yesterday Vol. IV cover
Madcap Melodies cover
Like, Omigod! cover

Be warned that if you search, you'll also find several more CDs containing the song, but I believe they all use the re-recorded version from 1999.

Prices

The following prices were culled from eBay auctions from mid-January 2000 to mid-April 2001. The table below shows the number of items that sold, the maximum winning price, the minimum winning price, the average, and the median. The average is the standard "sum divided by count" formula. The median is the number that is in the middle of all the numbers.

Notes:
"DK" stands for "Do the Donkey Kong".
"PMF-DK" stands for the "Pac-Man Fever"/"Do the Donkey Kong" single.

Item Count Min Max Average Median
Album 109 $1.00 $38.00 $10.09 $9.38
Cassette 13 $2.00 $24.50 $9.11 $7.71
8-track 1 $26.00 $26.00 $26.00 $26.00
Single 32 $0.55 $15.50 $3.57 $2.99
Pic Single 14 $10.00 $34.33 $19.42 $19.51
12" Single 6 $2.25 $8.50 $6.45 $7.83
DK Single 3 $3.00 $8.50 $5.17 $4.00
PMF-DK 0        

As you can see, the record album was easiest to find during this period. And even the regular 45 single was easier to find than the cassette album or other singles. Although there were few picture disc singles auctioned of during this period, at one time they seemed to be semi-common on eBay. See the note above about the album on 8-track. Finally, I have seen a "Pac-Man Fever"/"Do the Donkey Kong" 45 on eBay since I stopped tracking prices.