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Pac-Man Tips: Understanding Ghost Behaviors

Pac-Man remains a global phenomenon since it was first released over thirty years ago. This game is considered a pop culture staple and a game that can still stump and frustrate even the most skilled gamer. So, if you’re tired of losing big at Pac-Man, right when you’re so close to the end, read these Pac-Man tips to learn how to finally make it to level two hundred and fifty-five.

These Pac-Man tips will teach you how to identify the behaviors of each of the ghosts so you can bypass them or challenge them in order to easily slip on by and make it to the end of the level. Each ghost will go into either scatter or chase mode. Learning how to identify what mode a ghost is in will help you figure out how to get by them at the right time in order to eat to your heart’s content and make it to the end of the level.

Read on to learn how to win at Pac-Man, find out about the strategies used by the four ghosts in this game, their predictable behaviors and what you can do to sneak past them and make it to the end of each level unscathed.

Your Chance to Shine

Pac-Man definitely can’t touch modern video games in terms of graphics, but this is a game that focuses more on simplicity. In the Pac-Man universe, you’re basically a round yellow blob that’s hungry and tasked with going through maze after maze eating up white dots as you get chased by several ghosts who are out to get you. However, you’re not totally powerless against these monsters. You can use power pellets that are strategically placed throughout each maze and cause you to become the aggressor and the bad guys to turn into appealing snacks. Eating one of these ghosts will give you some serious points, but only if you’re able to do so in a very short grace period before the power pellets wear off and you’re once again on the run.

Did you know the ghosts actually have names? These names are Clyde, Inky, Pinky, and Blinky. These ghosts each have their own quirks and behaviors. Understanding these behaviors can actually help you to finally make it to the end.

The Chase is On

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When a game begins, you’ll notice that only one ghost is present. This is the red ghost named Blinky. As the game progresses, more ghosts begin to enter the maze from their holding pen, which is called the ghost house. These ghosts cycle between a couple of states: chase or scatter mode. When a ghost is in scatter mode, they will head for a specific corner of the maze. As an example, Pinky will move to the top left of the maze each time, while Clyde will go to the bottom left of the maze.

Once a ghost has reached their target spot they’ll follow a path around the maze for a few seconds before they go back into chase mode. When in chase mode, the ghosts will be intent on hunting you down.


When in chase mode, this red ghost will head right for you until scatter mode sets in. However, when there are twenty dots remaining in the maze, this ghost will speed up slightly. When ten dots are left, their speed increases again. At this time their scatter mode behavior will also change. Instead of heading back to his corner, Blinky will head right for you.


Pinky has a more strategic way of taking you down. She will take a route to a position that’s four spaces ahead of wherever you’re at. If you’re not careful, you’ll find yourself trapped by Pinky pretty quickly. To get away from Pinky safely, you can easily confuse her by moving briefly towards her as she closes in. Doing so will send Pinky down a different route of the maze as its four space target in front of you suddenly shifts.


Clyde is a large unpredictable orange ghost that behaves similarly to Pinky. His movements vary based on how close he is to you. If he finds himself more than eight spaces away from you, he will start to target you. But, if Clyde is less than eight squares away he will move to the bottom left corner of the screen. You can easily avoid Clyde once you’ve paid attention to his movements for a minute or two. While he may seem as scary as Pinky, he’s actually pretty skittish.


This blue ghost is one of the hardest to track because its target is not only based on your position but also on Blinky’s position as well. When in chase mode, she will head to a spot that’s right in front of you. However, she will then move to a spot that’s twice the distance from Blinky, which can make it difficult for you to anticipate her next moves. Fortunately, you can easily confuse this ghost into moving in the wrong direction by advancing on her, which is basically the same way you can get Pinky to back off.

Related Questions

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Can I Purchase a Brand New Pac-Man Arcade Game?

Yes, many gaming manufacturers produce reproductions of this classic arcade game, whether it’s a standup traditional Pac-Man arcade game or a multicade model like the popular Prime Arcades, LLC Cocktail Arcade Machine, which contains Pac-Man and hundreds of other classic arcade games. If you’d like to learn more about arcade games for home use, click here to read our arcade game buyer’s guide.

Will This Strategy Work with Ms. Pac-Man?

Yes, the ghosts in Ms. Pac-Man act similarly to these four. When playing Ms. Pac-Man, remember to pay attention to each ghost in order to identify which mode they’re in before you make your move.

Final Thoughts

These basic Pac-Man tips will give you an edge over the bad guys the next time you play. Remember, always keep one eye on the position of each of these ghosts, then identify what mode they’re in, whether it’s scatter or chase, in order to determine your next move. If you follow this strategy, you should have no problem making it to the end of the game.

Pac-Man Tips: Understanding Ghost Behaviors
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Pac-Man Tips: Understanding Ghost Behaviors
Learn how you can finally conquer this classic arcade game, how to identify the mode a ghost is in and how to sneak right by unscathed and make it to the end.