Scoring in Pac-Man

The arcade version of Pac-Man had a highest possible score of 3,333,360 which was achieved for the first time by Billy Mitchell on July 4th, 1999 in Weirs Beach, New Hampshire. Billy Mitchell is a native of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. The highest high score can only be achieved by eating EVERY fruit and EVERY blue ghost on every one of the 256 levels in addition to every dot and energizer. Without losing a life. He arrived July 1st, with the sole purpose to beat the Canadians to the highest high score. He refused to eat until he had won. “I had to be the first,” Mitchell explains. “It’s like Neil Armstrong walking on the moon…”

There are 244 dots in the maze, and Pac-Man must eat them all in order to proceed to the next round. The 240 small dots are worth ten points each, and the four large, flashing dots—best known as energizers—are worth 50 points each. This yields a total of 2,600 points for clearing the maze of dots each round. Players have two ways to increase their score beyond what is earned from eating dots:

The Characters

Constantly pursued by ghosts, Pac-Man has moments when he can turn and chase them all away.
Blinky, Pinky, Inky, and Clyde live to eat Pac-Man.
Save the energizers until Pac-Man really needs them. There are only four energizer per level.
After a ghost turns dark blue, he is harmless and can be eaten for points. When a blue ghost starts flashing, look out! He is about to transform back into his former ravenous self, only to chase Pac-Man again.

The first way to increase your score each round

is by turning the tables on your enemies by making them your prey. Whenever Pac-Man eats one of the four energizer dots located in the corners of the maze, the ghosts reverse their direction and, in early levels, turn the same shade of blue for a short period of time before returning to normal. While blue, they are vulnerable to Pac-Man and can be gobbled up for extra points providing they are caught before the time expires. After being eaten, a ghost’s eyes will return to the ghost pen where it is resurrected, exiting to chase Pac-Man once again. The first ghost captured after an energizer has been eaten is always worth 200 points. Each additional ghost captured from the same energizer will then be worth twice as many points as the one before it—400, 800, and 1,600 points, respectively. If all four ghosts are captured at all four energizers, an additional 12,000 points can be earned on these earlier levels. This should not prove too terribly difficult to achieve for the first few rounds as the ghosts initially remain blue for several seconds. Soon after, however, the ghosts’ “blue time” will get reduced to one or two seconds at the most, making it much more problematic to capture all four before time runs out on these boards. By level 19, the ghosts stop turning blue altogether and can no longer be eaten for additional points.

The second way to increase your score each round

is by eating the bonus symbols (commonly known as fruit) that appear directly below the ghost pen twice each round for additional points. The first bonus fruit appears after 70 dots have been cleared from the maze; the second one appears after 170 dots are cleared. Each fruit is worth anywhere from 100 to 5,000 points, depending on what level the player is currently on. Whenever a fruit appears, the amount of time it stays on the screen before disappearing is always between nine and ten seconds. The exact duration (i.e., 9.3333 seconds, 10.0 seconds, 9.75 seconds, etc.) is variable and does not become predictable with the use of patterns. In other words, executing the same pattern on the same level twice is no guarantee for how long the bonus fruit will stay onscreen each time. This usually goes unnoticed given that the majority of patterns are designed to eat the bonus fruit as quickly as possible after it has been triggered to appear. The symbols used for the last six rounds completed, plus the current round are also shown along the bottom edge of the screen (often called the fruit counter or level counter).

Using the tunnel in Pac-Man

Pac-Man Tips and tricks

  • Delay eating energizers until the ghosts are near. The longer Pac-Man waits, the closer the ghosts get, and the easier it is for Pac-Man to eat them once they have turned blue.
  • Once the ghosts turn blue and run away, help Pac-Man eat all the dots that he can. After he clears the screen of dots, you advance to the next level.
  • Turn Pac-Man into the tunnel to escape from ghosts, and watch him emerge safely on the other side of the screen.
  • Stall Pac-Man from entering the tunnel and then, just before the ghosts reach Pac-Man, duck him into the tunnel. By attracting the ghosts to one side of the screen, you reduce Pac-Man’s chances of meeting them when he emerges on the other side of the screen.
  • The “pause” spot is place on the map where the ghosts cannot discover Pac-Man. It exists to the right and up a few spaces from Pac-Man’s starting location, inside the crook of the turn. If Pac-Man enters this area from the right while no ghosts can see him, he can safely remain there for up to 18 minutes (when the ghosts reverse direction). This is a good place to park Pac-Man if you need to get a drink or hit the bathroom.

Pac-Man Scoring

The more Pac-Man eats, the more points you earn. The highest high score can only be achieved by eating EVERY fruit and EVERY blue ghost on every one of the 256 levels in addition to every dot and energizer. Without losing a life.

Dots are worth 10 points each
The cherry is worth 100 points. It appears during the first level of game play
The strawberry is worth 300 points. It appears during the second level of game play
The orange is worth 500 points. It appears during the third and fourth level of game play
The apple is worth 700 points. It appears during the fifth and sixth level of game play
The pineapple is worth 1,000 points. It appears during the seventh and eighth level of game play
The Galaxian spaceship is worth 2,000 points. It appears during the ninth and tenth level of game play
The bell is worth 3,000 points. It appears during the eleventh and twelfth level of game play
The key is worth 5,000 points. It appears during the thirdteenth and all subsequent levels of game play
Energizers are worth 50 points each
Blue ghosts / ghosts increase in value:

  • The first ghost is worth 200 points
  • The second ghost is worth 400 points
  • The third ghost is worth 800 points
  • The fourth ghost is worth 1,600 points
  • If Pac-Man eats all four ghosts,
    you earn a total of 3,000 points

 So keep these in mind next time you head to the arcade

  • 1 – Your only aim is to eat all the dots (it moves you to a higher level)
  • 2 – Eat the red (Blinky) and pink (Pinky) ghost first — the red one takes the shortest route to get to you quickest; the pink one knows where you’re heading.
  • 3 – Try to eat the fruit for bonuses, but remember your ultimate goal is to eat the dots
  • 4 – If a ghost is behind you, stop eating dots (Pac-man moves slower when eating) and go down a clear alley
  • 5 – Eat the blinking white power pellets in an emergency (if a ghost is on your tail), but try to save them ’til the very end.


Mike Matei

Hey there, I'm Mike Matei, the brains behind, a blog entirely dedicated to the iconic Pac-Man game. As a lifelong fan and geek of classic arcade gaming, I've poured my passion into creating a virtual museum celebrating everything Pac-Man. E-mail / Linkedin