Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Animal Arcade (Screenshot: YouTube)

By some estimates, dogs were first domesticated about 15,000 years ago. On the other hand, the Japanese corporation Namco introduced its most famous video game, Pac-Man, a little over 36 years ago, which might as well be 15,000 years in the tech world. But it has taken until 2016 for dogs and Pac-Man to be truly united in one endeavor. It took an enterprising Culver City-based firm called Denizen Company to accomplish this feat. Denizen describes itself as “a branded content company that specializes in branded videos that earn views, engage audiences, and go viral.” In theory, that sounds terrifying, what with using “branded” twice in the same sentence. But in practice, Denizen produces some inconceivably adorable stuff, much of it animal-related. Through a division called HelloDenizen, for instance, it has launched a new, high-concept webseries entitled Animal Arcade in which classic video games are recreated with people’s pets.

The premiere episode, “Pac-Dog,” serves as an ideal example of the wacky yet ingenious premise. A dog is dressed as Pac-Man, then set loose in a giant plywood maze filled with cardboard ghosts, with balloons serving as the pellets. What more is necessary? This is why there is such a thing as the internet.

That went amazingly well didn’t it? “Pac-Dog” manages to feel familiar and novel simultaneously. Part of this video’s success is due to good casting. This is no ordinary mutt in the crucial starring role. Instead, this is Twinkie, the Jack Russell terrier who holds a world record for popping balloons. Popping balloons is Twinkie’s life’s work, and that skill is put to great use here. Twinkie tears through the iconic Pac-Man labyrinth like a dog possessed. But the makers of Animal Arcade have done a nice job, recreating all the elements of the original Namco game, including flipping the ghosts over so they turn blue when vulnerable. It remains to be seen where the webseries will go from here. HelloDenizen is currently entertaining ideas for other retro games that can be remade with animals. Can an actual centipede be coerced into playing Centipede? Will someone’s cat be squeezed into a Q*bert costume? Stay tuned.


[via Laughing Squid]

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