Namco Had Some Children Dance In A Few Train Stations For A Bit

Posted by Mat on 6th March, 2014

Pac, despite our bewildered and saddened response, continues to be back. We literally cannot stop him. We don’t have that power. We aren’t ghosts. Or, we are ghosts, and he’s picked up the big pellet that allows him to eat us. That’s more like how I feel because after the ghosts are chomped they all respawn back in the middle and continue to give chase until whoever’s in charge of him runs out of money to carry on.

Namco-Bandai have yet to run out of money.

For our amusement and in order to celebrate… Pac… being… back? The company’s UK PR team have collected children and had them serve as a dancing Flash Mob (Remember Flash Mobs? From a decade ago?) right in the middle of some London train stations. The dances were backed by a cover of the Pac-Man Cereal Commercial Song by Popular Ska Band Less Than Jake. Forgive me if that last paragraph made you pull a weird face as you try and piece it all together. Dancing exists, so does the band Less Than Jake, and Pac-Man too. Where the cross-over point is, I don’t know. I feel like I’m a detective with a cork-board and string just trying to put the pieces together. There’s something here, chief, I just need more time to chase these leads.

My favorite part of the video is when they’re dancing in the packed tunnel in South Kensington. The press release says that this stunt was an attempt to “bring a smile among miserable commuters” and sure there are a couple of people standing around watching, but there are also a ton that are just trying to push past and probably get to work on time. Anyone actively enjoying the performance is either coming from or headed to the Natural History Museum. What do they need cheering up for? Their entire plan for the day was to learn about dinosaurs.

I could understand just doing this thing at Waterloo or Paddington or Kings Cross. Stations with a lot of layover time. I’m at Kings Cross a lot. I know there’s often a stretch between arrival and your next train. I’d savour the distraction as I eat a sophomoric burrito. Thing is, I’m not commuting, I’m just a man who likes to get drunk and knows people in London who will hang out with me while I do it.

Speaking of which: Included in the Press Release is this photo, meant to accompany articles about the… Thing? The thing that happened?


Woah. Was that really the best place to take this snap? I know because I’ve been there that this was taken at the Namco Station Arcade, but to anyone else it just looks like you took these children to a wrap-party at a club. Alright kids, great dancing, now who wants a Jagerbomb?

Was this whole thing your idea, man standing on the right with a bit of laminated paper and a bottle of water?

Funny thing about Namco Station: There’s a Pac-Man Battle Royale machine upstairs. If you’ve never played PMBR I absolutely recommend it. It’s the kind of tight arcade experience that the new slate of competitive indie games are trying to pay homage to. If they put Battle Royale game in the middle of Wild Rumpus there’d be lines around the fucking block. If you’re trying to show how relevant Pac-Man is to the Modern Age, why not show off the literal greatest thing with his name on it? Or maybe even intersperse some footage of the new game? Is… is there even a new game coming out? There can’t be. They’d have mentioned it by now.

I didn’t get into this last time, but I don’t entirely understand why “Pac” is suddenly “Back”. Where did he go? According to this wiki page he’s appeared in several games every year since 2005. If ever there was a time for people to be reminded of how Back he is, now probably isn’t it. I feel like I finally understand what LL Cool J was on about.

There’s a strange sadness to that. Knowing Pac-Man has always been with us and yet we’ve taken him for granted. It’s taken 5 minutes of light projected onto a building and half a day of children dancing in train stations to remind us of what Pac-Man represents.

PR Manager Lee Kirkton describes this stunt as being about “working together, supporting one another and combating issues like bullying, negativity and online trolling which many kids are victims of today.” He goes on to add: “What better mascot to inspire children than PAC-MAN”.

I personally agree with the guy. These were values I’d always connected to a video game about collecting cherries for points in a ghost maze and it’s nice to see them being spread wide through the power of dance. My question is, can you have the same mascot represent pranking another company a week prior and also be totally against victimisation? They seem like ideas that are almost counter to one another. I can’t know for sure, though: I’m not in PR.

Why choose this song? I’m struggling with that. The song’s not about Pac-Man. It’s about Pac-Man Cereal. A thing you can’t buy anymore. Pac is Back, sure, I’ve read the hashtag, but there’s nothing around with his face on that you can eat. Is that not a little embarrassing to think about? That the attempt to revive the brand in-itself contains a reminder that the cultural weight of the property has already dissipated and isn’t ever going to rise that high again? Kids don’t care about Pac-Man. They’re all doing tweets on whatsapp to their snapchat facebooks.

God, remember Less Than Jake? I honestly think some of those kids might be young enough that the last time I listened to Less Than Jake was further back than their conception. Am I going to die one day? Is that what this whole stunt is trying to teach me? That I’m old now and nothing can stop that?

We have reached out to Less Than Jake for comment. I don’t know why. I don’t know what I expect to learn from them. I… This is just… I…. What?

3 Responses to “Namco Had Some Children Dance In A Few Train Stations For A Bit”

  1. Christopher Bennett says:

    Great blog I enjoyed reading this a lot of good information

  2. Steve says:

    You’ve summed up perfectly how this all made me feel. Bizarre.
    Bewildered… and confused… *mumble jumble*…

  3. Patrick says:

    Wait you can get burritos in kings cross??

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