During a phone briefing with Microsoft's Jeff Bell, corporate vice president of Global Marketing, we asked about the Xbox 360's oft-maligned D-pad. Repeatedly. While Mr. Bell didn't seem to be as acutely aware of the D-pad's tragic shortcomings as many of us are, he did make it clear that, regardless of what controller you use to make it to the championship (MadCatz XBLA stick, perhaps), once there you'll be required to use the Xbox 360 gamepad. If you don't have the gaming chops -- or if that D-pad precludes any you may have had -- don't worry. There's one last chance for you to make it to the finals in New York City: the Pac-Man FANatic contest.
Pac-Man fanboys from the US or Canada can make a video demonstrating to judges why they (and not those other nerds) are in fact, the (North American) world's biggest Pac-Man fan. We're really hoping these end up on Xbox Live Marketplace ... we'd pay almost anything. The winner of the Pac-Man FANatic contest will join the other nine winners to compete for the title of "Pac-Man World Champion."
When asked about Billy Mitchell specifically, Mr. Bell said, "We obviously know Billy, and we have contacted him and let him know we're doing this and we're anticipating that he will be playing and competing... ." We imagine Mr. Mitchell preparing his mind and body in a comically rigorous montage, culminating in a sweat-drenched sprint up the stairs of the Philadelphia Art Museum where a glorious, vintage Pac-Man cabinet waits for him.
Lastly, in celebration of the championship and the twenty-sixth anniversary of Pac-Man, Microsoft will be adding the animated Pac-Man series (which ran from 1982 to 1984) to Xbox Live Marketplace in the US on April 25th. Each episode will cost 160 Microsoft Points (or about $2). Quiznos will also launch a nationwide ad campaign featuring The Pac (take that, Snakka!) to promote the tournament and their involvement.