North American Arcade cabinet
General Computer Corporation
|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 January 13, 1982 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). Eating an energizer (or "power-pellet") turns the ghosts blue, allowing them to 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 lessen the extent of the ghosts' vulnerability.
There are also some differences from the original 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.
- The spaces between the walls are filled in, making it easier to see where the path is.
- The ghosts' behavior patterns are different and include 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.
- When Ms. Pac-Man makes contact with a ghost and dies, the icon spins rather than withering like the original Pac-Man.
- 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 those in the original game.
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.
Ms. Pac-Man was originally conceived as an enhancement kit for Pac-Man called Crazy Otto, created by programmers employed at the General Computer Corporation (GCC). 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 to Namco. Ms. Pac-Man was reportedly the first in 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 NES in 1993. Unlike the Tengen version, it was a straight port of the arcade game without any added features, except for 4 extra mazes.
- 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.
Reception and legacy
In 2009, Game Informer put Ms. Pac-Man 10th on their list of "The Top 200 Games of All Time", saying that it "trumped [the original Pac-Man] in nearly every way". This is down one rank from Game Informer's previous best games of all time list.
- US Copyright Filing PA0000140275
- 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
- "The Top 200 Games of All Time". Game Informer (200): 44–79. December 2009. ISSN 1067-6392. OCLC 27315596.
- Cork, Jeff (2009-11-16). "Game Informer's Top 100 Games of All Time (Circa Issue 100)". Game Informer. Retrieved 2013-12-10.
- 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)