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Nakamura, who died on Jan. 22, founded Namco, part of Bandai Namco, in 1955. It started out as just two mechanical horse rides on a department store rooftop but went on to pioneer game arcades and amusement parks.
Pac-Man, designed by Namco engineer and video game maker Toru Iwatani, went on sale in 1980, at a time when there were few rival games, such as Space Invaders. The plucky yellow circle with the huge mouth was a huge hit.
The idea for Pac-Man’s design came from the image of a pizza with a slice carved out. Nakamura reportedly chose the word “Pac,” or “pakku” in Japanese, to represent the sound of the Pac-Man munching its prey.
“Pac-Man is a gamer friendly game with tons of cute characters and that’s why it was loved for such a long time,” Iwatani said in 2015 at a New York red carpet premiere of “Pixels,” that featured Pac-Man creatures and featured him in a cameo role.
The company reported Nakamura’s death but would not comment on its cause or other personal details, citing his family’s wishes. A private wake and funeral were held for the family, but a separate memorial is being planned, Bandai-Namco said.