Sometime after Pong's golden age, a Japanese video-game designer named Toru Iwatani pulled a single wedge from a circular pizza, envisioned an eyeless, pellet-munching little fella, and baptized him Pac-Man. Aside from launching multiple cartoon programs, trading cards, lunchboxes and a godawful hit song called ""Pac-Man Fever," America's favorite slow-witted yellow ball winds up being the only quarter-fed curio from the Reagan boom to grace the hallowed Smithsonian. Go figure.
Something of a retro-fitted museum piece in its own right, Denver's Mr. Pacman ups the conceptual ante of simply being tormented by Inky, Pinky, Blinky and Clyde -- creating a relentlessly synthetic fringe-theater act that approximates the Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers as an electronic-punk spectacle. Blending together the vintage sounds of the once Atari-dominated arcade -- the dulcet tones of Galaga and Space Invaders, the haunting refrain of Asteroids and Frogger -- Mr. Pacman rings in summer with fun and reckless fury, opening for the Octopus Project on Thursday, June 19, at the Larimer Lounge. As a moonboot-, jumpsuit- and helmet-clad force in the world of make-believe, this adventurous trio (Avery Rains, James Compton and Kit Peltzel, formerly of Kooky Spooks, now part of Space Team Electra) combines aggressive keyboard-guitars, old-school Commodore 64s, vocoders and electronic percussion into an absurdly entertaining multimedia extravaganza. Following last year's exceptional debut EP, Turbotron, the band ventured into producing an amusing children's show called the Half Hour of Power. Nostalgic? Hell, yes -- wocka-wocka-wocka. But thankfully, these goofballs know that the game is far from over.