The North American Ms. Pac-Man cabinet
|Developer(s)||Bally/Midway / General Computer Corporation|
|Publisher(s)||Bally/Midway / Namco|
|Mode(s)||Up to 2 players, alternating turns|
|Cabinet||Standard upright, mini-upright and cocktail|
|Arcade system||Namco Pac-Man|
|CPU||1x ZiLOG Z80 @ 3.072 MHz|
|Sound||1× Namco WSG (3-channel mono) @ 3.072 MHz|
|Display||Vertically oriented, 224 × 288, 16 palette colors|
Ms. Pac-Man is an arcade video game produced by Illinois-based Midway Manufacturing corporation. It was released one year after the company's Pac-Man arcade game. Ms. Pac-Man was released in North America in 1981 and became one of the most popular video games of all time, leading to its adoption by Pac-Man licensor Namco as an official title. The game introduced a female protagonist, new maze designs, and several other gameplay changes over the original game. It became the most successful American-produced arcade game, selling 115,000 arcade cabinets.
The gameplay of Ms. Pac-Man is largely identical to that of the original Pac-Man. The player gathers points by eating dots and avoiding ghosts (contact with one loses a life). Energizers, or power-pellets, change the ghosts, which reverse their course and they can be eaten for extra points. Fruit bonuses can be consumed for increasing point values, twice per level. As the levels increase, the speed increases, and energizers generally change the ghost for less time.
There are also some differences between Ms. Pac-Man and Pac-Man:
- The game has four different mazes that appear in different sets of colors.
- Three of the four mazes have two sets of warp tunnels, as opposed to only one in the original Pac-Man.
- Unlike the original Pac-Man, the spaces in between the walls are filled in, making it easier to see where the path is.
- The ghosts' behavior patterns are different and includes semi-random movement, preventing the use of patterns to beat each level.
- Instead of appearing in the center of the maze, fruits bounce around the maze, entering and leaving through the warp tunnels. Once all fruits have been encountered, they appear in random sequence for the rest of the game, starting on the eighth level.
- The orange ghost is named Sue, rather than Clyde.
- The three intermissions have changed to follow the developing relationship between Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man (from when they first meet to having a stork drop off their baby).
- The sound effects and music of the game are quite different from the Pac-Man sounds.
As in Pac-Man, the game has a bug in the subroutine that draws the fruit, which renders the 256th level unplayable. However, the game also has other bugs that cause it to crash or become unplayable much sooner, making it impossible to reach the 256th level without an emulator.
While Crazy Otto was under development, GCC settled a lawsuit with Atari over their Missile Command conversion kit Super Missile Attack. Part of the settlement terms barred GCC from selling future conversion kits without consent from the original game manufacturer. Rather than scrapping Crazy Otto entirely, the programmers decided to show it to Midway, Namco's American distributor of the original game. Midway had become impatient in waiting for Namco to release its next Pac-Man game (which would be Super Pac-Man), and were enthusiastic that such a game had come to their attention. They bought the rights to Crazy Otto, changed the sprites to fit the Pac-Man universe, renamed the game Ms. Pac-Man, and released it into arcades. Shortly before release, Stan Jarocki of Midway stated that Ms. Pac-Man was conceived in response to the original Pac-Man being "the first commercial videogame to involve large numbers of women as players" and that it is "our way of thanking all those lady arcaders who have played and enjoyed Pac-Man." The game was later awarded the Certificate of Merit as runner-up for Coin-Op Game of the Year at the 1982 Arcade Awards held in January 1983.
After the game became wildly popular, Midway and GCC undertook a brief legal battle concerning royalties. The Killer List of Videogames notes that the game was accomplished without Namco's consent, causing both companies to eventually turn over the rights of Ms. Pac-Man to Namco. Ms. Pac-Man was reportedly the first of a series of unauthorized sequels that eventually led to the termination of the licensing agreement between Namco and Midway. GCC co-founder Doug Macrae has disputed stories that the game was manufactured without Namco's blessing, claiming that then-Namco president Masaya Nakamura had even provided feedback over character artwork during the game's development.
Ms. Pac-Man was later released on the third Namco Museum game; however, there is no mention of it in Namco's official archives (including the archives on all of the Namco Museum releases).
In 2001, Namco released an arcade board featuring both Ms. Pac-Man and Galaga in honor of the 20th anniversary of both games with the subtitle "20 Year Reunion / Class of 1981". It also features Pac-Man as a hidden bonus game. The later 25th Anniversary Edition allows all three games to be selected at the main menu.
Like many other games of its era, Ms. Pac-Man has been ported to many platforms.
- A Mini-Arcade tabletop version of Ms. Pac-Man was released in 1983 by Coleco. The unit was shaped like a miniature arcade cabinet, was controlled with a small built-in joystick, and used a multicolor vacuum fluorescent display. This version of the game was later awarded the Certificate of Merit as runner-up for Stand-Alone Game of the Year at the 1983 Arcade Awards held in January 1984.
- Atari, Inc. released versions of it for its Atari 2600, Atari 5200, Atari 7800, and Atari 8-bit computer line. There were also versions for the Commodore VIC-20, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum, IBM PC, Apple II, and Texas Instruments TI-99/4A. A version of Ms. Pac-Man was also created for the Puffer exercise bike controller by Jim Leiterman for the Atari 5200 as part of the Puffer project. It was never intended to be published. Atari Corporation also released a version for the Atari Lynx, introducing new mazes and a power-up that gave the player a temporary speed boost. In January 1984, the Atari 2600 port won the Videogame of the Year award at the 1983 Arcade Awards, tied with Lady Bug.
- The Mega Drive/Genesis, Master System, and NES versions, by Tengen, and the Super NES version, by Williams Electronics, took a few liberties. They featured four different sets of mazes: the original arcade mazes, bigger mazes, smaller mazes, and "strange" mazes. There was also a Pac-Booster option that let players make Ms. Pac-Man move much faster. All of these versions also allowed two people to play simultaneously, with player 2 as Pac-Man, either cooperatively or competitively. The game also ended at level 32, at which point an intermission that did not occur in the original game took place, where Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man say good bye. The Mega Drive/Genesis version of the game sold more than one million copies in the United States.
- Namco also ported Ms. Pac-Man to the Famicom in 1985; this version did not reach North America until 1993. Unlike the Tengen version, it was a straight port of the arcade game without any added features.
- Ms. Pac-Man was ported to the CD-i as part of an Arcade Classics collection (released in Europe, but not in North America). It had all of the extra features of Tengen's ports even though neither Tengen or Williams Electronics had made this version.
- It has also been included in Namco's, Microsoft's and Atari's late 1990s series of classic game anthologies, and is an unlockable minigame in the SNES version of Pac-Man 2: The New Adventures and in Pac-Man World 2.
- It was ported to the Game Boy Color with two new mazes and a bonus game (Super Pac-Man).
- A standalone, battery-powered version of the game released by Jakks Pacific can be plugged directly into a television. Ms. Pac-Man and four other games (Galaga, Mappy, Xevious and Pole Position) are included in a self-contained joystick hand controller.
- Ms. Pac-Man was also a free game bundled with every Xbox Live Arcade disc for the original Xbox. The Xbox 360 XBLA version was released on January 9, 2007, featuring an online leaderboard and twelve achievements.
- As of July 11, 2008, Ms. Pac Man is available for Apple's iPhone through the App Store, and features all 256 levels. The game was also released in July for Windows Mobile Professional.
- As part of Pac-Man's 30th anniversary, Ms. Pac-Man is one of the games included on the home version of Pac-Man's Arcade Party arcade machine.
Ms. Pac-Man in popular culture 
In film and television 
Arcade cabinets have made appearances in a number of other series: in the episode "My Own Private Practice Guy" of the TV show Scrubs, The Todd comments "Oh, Ms. Pac-Man I would sex that bow right off your head. Eat those dots you naughty, naughty girl." Dr. Kelso is also an expert at the game, with an impossibly high score of 40,000,000. Similarly, in the Weeds episode "A Modest Proposal", the character Andy Botwin buys a Ms. Pac-Man cabinet. He anthropomorphises the ghosts, and also uses sexual language, though with Sue as the target, saying, "Come here Sue, you filthy little ghost whore!".
Ms. Pac-Man is referenced by a number of Fox programmes. In The Simpsons episode "I Married Marge," Mr. Burns can be seen playing Ms. Pac-Man while he says "That's it... That's it... Come closer... [gobbles a power pellet] Muhahaha! Ironic isn't it. The hunter has become the hunted! Hahahaha!!". In Family Guy, during the episode "Meet the Quagmires," Peter is shown playing Menstrual Ms. Pac-Man in The Drunken Clam when Death lets him and Brian go back to 1984 for a night. Futurama's episode "Anthology of Interest II" has a video game-inspired segment, in which the character of Ms. Pac-Man appears after her husband, "General Colin Pac-Man", is killed by a laser bolt from a Space Invader. She appears to sob over Colin's dead body. Fry then asks Amy to "tend to the Widow Pac-Man".
Comedian and talk show host Tom Green owns a Ms. Pac-Man arcade machine which can occasionally be seen during episodes of Tom Green's House Tonight, and was featured in an episode of The Jace Hall Show.
In the 1992 movie Wayne's World Wayne Campbell (played by Mike Myers) asks Noah Vanderhoff what the difference between Pac-Man & Ms. Pac-Man is "really". Vanderhoff asserts that the only difference is the bow in her hair.
In the Drawn Together episode "Gay Bash", Xandir meets Pac-Man (with whom he is friends) at a gay party. Believing Ms. Pac-Man to be his ex-wife, Xandir tells him to keep his gay secret between them (as Ms. Pac-Man is best friends with Xandir's girlfriend). However, it is revealed that Ms. Pac-Man is actually Pac-Man in drag.
In the series Friends, season 8, episode 12, "The one where Joey dates Rachel", Phoebe gives a Ms. Pac-Man arcade machine to Chandler and Monica for their wedding. Then begins a competition between the three of them over the game.
Reception and legacy 
- Ms. Pac-Man (Video Game 1981) - IMDb
- Beamish, Graeme (May 22, 2010). "Pellet-popping power: Pac-Man turns 30 today". Nanaimo Daily News. Canwest News Service. Retrieved 5 March 2012.
- Donhodges.Com—Ms. Pac-Man's Kill Screens Analyzed And Fixed
- Ms. Pac-Man Videogame by Midway (1981) - The International Arcade Museum and the KLOV
- Doug Macrae from GCC speaks at California Extreme 2010
- Worley, Joyce (May 1982). "Women Join the Arcade Revolution". Electronic Games 1 (3): 30–33 . Retrieved 3 February 2012.
- "Electronic Games Magazine". Internet Archive. Retrieved 1 February 2012.
- Coleco Ms Pac Man
- Reichert, Matt. "5200 Rumor Mill: Puffer Ms. Pac-Man". Retrieved 2007-10-24.
- Cifaldi, Frank. "Retronauts Episode 91: A Tengen Family Reunion". Frank Cifaldi talks to rebellious NES game developers Franz Lanzinger (Toobin', Ms. Pac-Man), Steve Woita (Super Sprint, Police Academy) and Mark Morris (Hard Drivin', 007: License to Kill) about the old days. 1up.com. Retrieved 2010-09-27.
- Welcome to JAKKS TV Games >> Ms. Pac-Man
- Ms. Pac-Man Game Detail Page, xbox.com
- Ms. PAC-MAN now available for your iPod
- Pac-Man (TV Series 1982–1984) - IMDb
- Director: Marc Buckland, Writers: Angela Nissel, Mark Stegemann (2003-03-13). "My Own Private Practice Guy". Scrubs. Episode 41. NBC.
- Director: Michael Trim, Writer: Vanessa Reisen (2009-07-13). "A Modest Proposal". Weeds. Season 5. Episode 6. Showtime. http://uk.tv.ign.com/articles/100/1003581p1.html. Retrieved 2011-10-04.
- Director: Jeffrey Lynch, Writer: Jeff Martin (1991-12-26). "I Married Marge". The Simpsons. Episode 47. Fox.
- Directors: Dan Povenmire, Chris Robertson, Writer: Mark Hentemann (2007-05-20). "Meet the Quagmires". Family Guy. Episode 98. Fox.
- Director: Bret Haaland, Writers: Lewis Morton, David X. Cohen, Jason Gorbett, Scott Kirby (2002-01-06). "Anthology of Interest II". Futurama. Episode 50. Fox.
- Hall, Jace (2009-03-19). "Tom Green & Everquest Anniversary". Crackle. Retrieved 2010-04-04.
- Director: David Schwimmer, Writers: David Crane, Marta Kauffman (2002-01-10). "The one where Joey dates Rachel". Friends. Episode 182. Warner.
- "The Top 200 Games of All Time". Game Informer (200): 44–79. December 2009. ISSN 1067-6392. OCLC 27315596.
- Ms. Pac-Man at the Killer List of Videogames
- Ms. Pac-Man at the Arcade History database
- GCC 2004 reunion audio Presentation by GCC alumni of their company history, including development of Ms. Pac-Man
- Ms. PAC-MAN for iPod at NamcoGames.com
- Ms. Pac-Man guide at StrategyWiki
- Ms. Pac-Man (360) Reviews at Metacritic
- Ms. Pac-Man at MobyGames
- Ms. Pac-Man at the Internet Movie Database
- Twin Galaxies has a scoreboard for Ms. Pac-Man high scores (registration required)