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 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!". And, of course, many revivals since the 1990s.) 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*).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 a few exceptions.
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. However, it appears a different set of backup singers may have been used. This version was also released in Hong Kong and possibly other parts of eastern Asia.
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 and table 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.
|Australia||Pac-Man Fever instrumental||Italy||Froggy's Lament||Japan||Mousetrap [see below]
Do the Donkey Kong (instrumental)
|Netherlands||Pac-Man Fever instrumental||New Zealand||Pac-Man Fever instrumental||Peru||Pac-Man Fever instrumental||U.K.||Pac-Man Fever instrumental||U.S.A.||Pac-Man Fever instrumental||U.S.A. (Columbia Hall of Fame)||Do the Donkey Kong|
There's an oddity with the "Puc-Man Fever" Japanese single. It is clearly labeled as having "Mousetrap" on the B side, but this is not the case. The B side is actually the instrumental version of "Do the Donkey Kong"! (At least on the one copy I have.)
Although released in late 1981, "Pac-Man Fever" -- both the album and the single -- didn't hit the charts until 1982. The album peaked at #24 on the Billboard 200. I don't have information on how it did on the Cash Box album chart, but it was #97 on their 1982 year-end album chart.
The song peaked at #9 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #7 on the Cash Box Top 100. "Do the Donkey Kong" failed to make the Hot 100, but hit #3 on the Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles, so effectively peaking at #103.
|Date||Billboard Hot 100
|Cash Box Top 100
|1/2/1982||No issue published|
|1/9/1982||76||No issue published|
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.
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.
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.
"DK" stands for "Do the Donkey Kong".
"PMF-DK" stands for the "Pac-Man Fever"/"Do the Donkey Kong" single.
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.