North American arcade cabinet (1982)
|Developer(s)||General Computer Corporation|
|Publisher(s)||Atari, Inc. (ports)|
Atari Corporation (Lynx)
|Platform(s)||Arcade, Atari 2600, Atari 5200, Atari 8-bit, Atari 7800, Lynx, NES, Game Boy, Game Gear, TI-99/4A, Master System, Mega Drive, MS-DOS, Apple II, Commodore 64, / 128 VIC-20, ZX Spectrum, Super NES|
|Mode(s)||Up to 2 players, alternating turns|
|Cabinet||Standard upright, mini-upright and cocktail|
|Arcade system||Namco Pac-Man|
|CPU||1 × Z80 @ 3.072 MHz|
|Sound||1× Namco WSG (3-channel mono) @ 3.072 MHz|
|Display||Vertically oriented, 224 × 288 resolution, 16 palette colors|
Ms. Pac-Man is the second game in the Pac-Man series, released in arcades in February 1982. Ms. Pac-Man introduced a female protagonist, four different mazes, more colorful graphics, and several gameplay changes.
The game was developed by Illinois-based Midway Manufacturing, the North American distributor of the original Pac-Man, without the involvement or permission of Pac-Man creator Namco. Ms. Pac-Man was the most successful American-produced arcade game of 1982, selling 115,000 arcade cabinets, and became one of the most popular arcade games of all time. It was eventually adopted as an official title by Namco.
The gameplay of Ms. Pac-Man is very similar to that of the original Pac-Man. The player earns points by eating pellets and avoiding ghosts (contact with one causes Ms. Pac-Man to lose a life). Eating an energizer (or "power pellet") causes the ghosts to turn blue, allowing them to be eaten for extra points. Bonus fruits can be eaten for increasing point values, twice per round. As the rounds increase, the speed increases, and energizers generally lessen the duration of the ghosts' vulnerability, eventually stopping altogether.
There are also some differences from the original Pac-Man:
- The game has four different mazes that appear in different color schemes, and alternate after each of the game's intermissions are seen. The pink maze appears in levels 1 & 2, the light blue maze appears in levels 3, 4, & 5, the brown maze appears in levels 6 through 9, and the dark blue maze appears in levels 10 through 14. After level 14, the maze configurations alternate every 4th level.
- Three of the four mazes (the first, second, and fourth ones) have two sets of warp tunnels, as opposed to only one in the original maze.
- The walls have a solid color rather than an outline, which makes it easier for a novice player to see where the paths around the mazes are.
- The ghosts' behavioral patterns are different, and include semi-random movement, which prevents the use of patterns to clear each round. Blinky (red) and Pinky (pink) move randomly in the first several seconds of each level, until the first reversal. Inky (cyan) and Sue (orange) still use the same movement patterns from the previous game to their respective corners, again until the first reversal.
- Instead of appearing in the center of the maze, the fruits bounce randomly around the maze, entering and (if not eaten) 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 round; a 5000-point banana can be followed by a 100-point pair of cherries.
- The orange ghost is called Sue, rather than Clyde; her color was later changed to purple in Pac-Land to differentiate her.
- When Ms. Pac-Man makes contact with a ghost and dies, she spins around, or as the back of the flier says, "she dramatically swoons and falls" rather than folding in on herself like the original Pac-Man did.
- The three intermissions follow the developing relationship between the original Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man (from when they first meet to having a stork drop off their baby). The latter later served as the attract opening sequence for Jr. Pac-Man.
- The sound effects and music are very different from those of the original game, including a new opening theme and death sound effect.
Fruit point values
After level 7, any fruit will appear, although its point value will be the same (unlike in Pac-Man, in which the Key will always be the fruit after level 13).
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 chose to present the completed game to Midway, Namco's American distributor of Pac-Man. 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 and worked with GCC and Namco to prepare the game for release. In final development the game's name and characters experienced multiple changes. Sprites, text, and minor game elements were altered to better reflect the Pac-Man series. The game was initially titled "Super Pac-Man," containing Pac-Man as the lead character. Inspired by the cutscenes of Crazy Otto featuring Crazy Otto's female counterpart, the lead character was made female and the game was renamed Pac-Woman. That name was dropped in favor of Miss Pac-Man, but the developers then realized that, given the third intermission showing a stork delivering a baby to Pac-Man and the player's character, confusion could arise about their relationship. In light of this, the name was changed to Mrs. Pac-Man, and then finally to Ms. Pac-Man, which rolled off the tongue easier. Programmer Steve Golson said "in the span of just two weeks, it went from Crazy Otto to Super Pac-Man to Miss Pac-Man. These later changes (Miss, Mrs., and Ms.) all occurred within 72 hours of actual production.
According to one 1982 estimate, a majority of Pac-Man players were women. 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 Namco Museum Volume 3; however, there is no mention of it in Namco's official archives (including the archives on all 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.
Atari, Inc. released versions for the Atari 2600, Atari 5200, Atari 7800, and Atari 8-bit family. There were also versions for the VIC-20, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum, IBM PC, Apple II, and Texas Instruments TI-99/4A released under the Atarisoft label. Unlike Pac-Man, most home versions of Ms. Pac-Man include all four intermission screens from the arcade game. The Atari 2600 rendition of Pac-Man was infamous for its flashing ghosts, while the 2600 port of Ms. Pac-Man had minimal flicker.
A 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. It was a runner-up for Stand-Alone Game of the Year at the 1983 Arcade Awards held in January 1984.
Namco ported Ms. Pac-Man to the Famicom in 1985. A few years later, Tengen released the Famicom version of Pac-Man for the NES in North America, but rejected Ms. Pac-Man and instead developed a completely new port from scratch. In 1993, Namco released their original port of Ms. Pac-Man in North America themselves, eight years after its original release in Japan.
The 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 which was only available in the original arcade game from a maintenance menu. These versions also allowed two people to play simultaneously, with player 2 as Pac-Man. The game ends at level 32, with an intermission where Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man say good-bye.
InfoWorld stated that Atarisoft's Ms. Pac-Man for the Commodore 64 was as good as the best-selling Atari 8-bit version.
The Genesis version of the game sold more than one million copies in the United States.
Reviewing the Super NES version, three of Electronic Gaming Monthly's four reviewers said the gameplay is timeless and universally appealing, and the enhancements appealing. The fourth, Sushi-X, felt the original game was a cheap cash-in on the popularity of Pac-Man, and had not aged well. Doctor Devon of GamePro liked the original game but questioned the value of the Super NES port since it has somewhat frustrating controls, and since Ms. Pac-Man had already appeared on the Super NES in the form of an unlockable in Pac-Man 2: The New Adventures.
In STart, Clayton Walnum praised the Lynx version's new mazes and the added twist of the lightning power-ups, and found the game transferred well to the small screen. Julian Rignall reviewed the Atari Lynx port for CVG Magazine writing that "it offers a fun and non-violet challenge which will appeal to anyone" giving a final score of 79 out of 100. Les Ellis reviewed the game for Raze Magazine in February 1991, he liked the "neat little between-level scenes" and the "jolly title tune" giving a final score of 79%. Robert A. Jung also reviewed the Lynx version which was published to IGN. He wrote in his final verdict, "A decent adaptation overall, and a good game in its own right." Giving a final score of 8 out of 10.
In 1996 Electronic Gaming Monthly reported that the Genesis version of Ms. Pac-Man, which was released in 1991, was still among the top 20 best-selling Genesis games. The same year, Next Generation ranked the arcade version as number 12 on their "Top 100 Games of All Time", saying that it has aged far better than the original Pac-Man due to its smarter ghost AI, varied mazes, moving fruits, and intermissions. They added, "It has the broadest appeal of any game Next Generation has seen, with the possible exception of Tetris. Women love it. Men Love it. Children love it."
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. Entertainment Weekly called Ms. Pac-Man one of the top ten games for the Atari 2600 in 2013. In 2016, Ms. Pac-Man placed 5th on Time's The 50 Best Video Games of All Time list.
- Ms. Pac-Man included in a CD-i 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 nor Williams Electronics had made this version.
- It is 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.
- 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. The game was also released in July for Windows Mobile.
- 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.
- It was included as downloadable content in Pac-Man Museum for PlayStation 3, Windows and Xbox 360.
In popular culture
In Season 5, Episode 6 (“A Modest Proposal”) of the television show Weeds, gameplay captured from Ms. Pac-Man forms a segue between scenes.
In Season 8, Episode 12 ("The One Where Joey Dates Rachel"), of Friends, Phoebe gives Monica and Chandler a Ms. Pac-Man arcade game as a wedding present.
- "VC&G | » Ms. Pac-Man Turns 35". www.vintagecomputing.com. Retrieved 2018-06-14.
- Beamish, Graeme (May 22, 2010). "Pellet-popping power: Pac-Man turns 30 today". Nanaimo Daily News. Canwest News Service. Retrieved 5 March 2012.
- Ms. Pac-Man Videogame by Midway (1981) - The International Arcade Museum and the KLOV
- Game Developers' Conference Post-Mortem by original developer Steve Golson
- "The MIT Dropouts Who Created Ms. Pac-Man: A 35th-Anniversary Oral History". Fast Company. 2017-02-03. Retrieved 2018-06-14.
- The Ultimate History of Video Games by Steven L. Kent, pp. 171-172
- How to Win Video Games. Pocket Books. 1982. p. 87. ISBN 0-671-45841-8.
- 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.
- Ms. Pac-Man Videogame by Midway (1981) - The International Arcade Museum and the KLOV
- Doug Macrae from GCC speaks at California Extreme 2010
- "Namco 20 Year Reunion: Ms. Pac-Man/Galaga - Class of 1981 Cheats, Codes, and Secrets for Arcade Games - GameFAQs". gamefaqs.gamespot.com. Retrieved 2018-06-14.
- Coleco Ms. Pac-Man
- "Atari Lynx Ms. Pac-Man". AtariAge.
- Mace, Scott (1984-04-09). "Atarisoft vs. Commodore". InfoWorld. p. 50. Retrieved 4 February 2015.
- 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.
- "Review Crew: Ms. Pac-Man". Electronic Gaming Monthly. No. 87. Ziff Davis. October 1996. p. 66.
- "Ms. Pac-Man". GamePro. No. 99. IDG. December 1996. p. 158.
- Walnum, Clayton (December 1990). "The Lynx Collection". STart. No. 39. Antic Publishing. p. 71.
- Julian Rignall (January 1991). "Latest Lynx Lowndown". No. 110. CVG Magazine. p. 136. Retrieved 26 March 2018.
- Les Ellis (February 1991). "Ms. Pac-Man". Raze Magazine. p. 29. Retrieved 16 August 2018 – via archive.org.
- Robert A. Jung (6 July 1999). "A decent adaptation of the pill-munching fun for Atari Lynx". IGN Entertainment. Retrieved 16 August 2018.
- "Ms. Pac-Man". GamePro. No. 68. IDG. May 1994. p. 130.
- "Williams Prepares for a New Era!". Electronic Gaming Monthly. No. 85. Ziff Davis. August 1996. p. 55.
- "Top 100 Games of All Time". Next Generation. No. 21. Imagine Media. September 1996. p. 66.
- "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.
- Morales, Aaron (January 25, 2013). "The 10 best Atari games". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved April 17, 2016.
- "The 50 Best Video Games of All Time". Time. Time Inc. August 23, 2016. Archived from the original on August 26, 2016. Retrieved September 19, 2016.
- Welcome to JAKKS TV Games >> Ms. Pac-Man Archived 2006-05-17 at the Wayback Machine
- Ms. Pac-Man Game Detail Page, xbox.com Archived 2009-06-02 at the Wayback Machine
- Ms. PAC-MAN now available for your iPod
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ms. Pac-Man.|
- Ms. Pac-Man at the Killer List of Videogames
- Ms. Pac-Man at the Arcade History database
- Ms. Pac-Man for the Atari 2600 at Atari Mania
- GCC 2004 reunion audio Presentation by GCC alumni of their company history, including development of Ms. Pac-Man
- Twin Galaxies has a scoreboard for Ms. Pac-Man high scores (registration required)