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Game: Ms. Pac-Man
Developer: Midway/Namco
Publisher: Midway
Release Date: 1981
Class: Wide Release
Genre: Maze
Gameplay: Alternating
Simul. Players: 1
Max Players: 2
Monitor: 19 inch Raster, Vertical orientation, 224 x 288
Joystick: 4-way joystick
Layout: Bezel, Control Panel, PCB
Cabinet Type(s): Standard upright;
Mini-upright (Cabaret);
Cabinet Pics: 1, 2, 3
Side Art:  
Boards: 1, 2
Hardware Info: Z80 cpu @ 3.072 Mhz
Soundboard: 1x Namco WSG (3-channel mono) @ 3.072 MHz
Review Score:
Player Guide:  
Read The Review:  

Ms. Pac-Man is a popular arcade game released by Midway in 1981 and was created by Doug Macrae and Kevin Curran. This unauthorized sequel to Pac-Man differs from its predecessor on the fact that it has different screens and a female character. It was also one of the more successful of early arcade games.


The gameplay of Ms. Pac-Man is largely identical to that of Pac-Man, with a few differences.

* There are now six different mazes (four styles, with 5 colors), and "filled-in" walls (compared with the original Pac-Man's hollow walls). Each maze has two pairs of "warp tunnels" connecting the right and left sides of the maze (except for the third maze design which only has one set of tunnels). The maze is changed after each intermission.
* The ghosts have pseudo-random movement, which precludes the use of patterns to beat each board.
* Instead of appearing in the center of the maze, "fruits" enter the maze through one of the warp tunnels and bounce around the maze. They eventually leave through another tunnel if not eaten.
* The orange ghost's name has changed from Clyde to Sue. (Sue would later become a purple female ghost in Pac-Land, appearing alongside 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.)

Like Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man suffers from a bug in the fruit-drawing routine, which renders the 256th board unplayable. While it may be possible to reach the 256th board using the "rack test" cheat available as a DIP switch (usable through MAME or other arcade emulator), the actual arcade hardware will crash at or around the 134th board. At this point in the game, the data tables used to determine the maze and ghost behavior for a particular level are exhausted and invalid data is loaded. A corrupt value loaded into the pointer to the maze data causes the screen to turn black. Though the ghosts and Ms. Pac-Man are still visible, the game becomes unplayable.


Ms. Pac-Man was originally conceived as a bootlegged hack of Pac-Man called Crazy Otto, created by programmers employed at the General Computer Corporation (GCC).

After the game became wildly popular, Midway and GCC undertook a brief legal battle concerning royalties, but because the game was accomplished without Namco's consent, both companies eventually turned over the rights of Ms. Pac-Man to the parent company, fearing a lawsuit. Nonetheless, Ms. Pac-Man was the first of a series of unauthorized sequels that eventually led to the termination of the licensing agreement between Namco and Midway.

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. It also features Pac-Man as a hidden extra bonus game. The later 25th Anniversary Edition allows all three games to be selected at the main menu.



Home versions

Like many other games of its era, Ms. Pac-Man was ported to many home computer and gaming systems. It has also been included in Namco's, Microsoft's and Atari's late 1990s series of classic game anthologies.

The Mega Drive/Genesis and NES versions, by Tengen, and the Super NES version, by Williams Electronics, took a few liberties. They featured 4 different maze-sets: the original arcade mazes, bigger mazes, smaller mazes, and "strange" mazes. There was also a "Pac-Booster" option which lets players make Ms. Pac-Man go much faster, making the game much easier and more entertaining. All of these versions also allow two people to play simultaneously, with player 2 as Pac-Man, either cooperatively or competitively.

Coleco released a tabletop version of the arcade in 1981. (pictured right)

There is also a standalone, battery-powered version of the game that 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.

Other versions and bugs

* Some versions of the game had an "expert" level, where if you hold the joystick up while pressing the start button, the whole game speed doubled (including music and sound effects). Others have Ms. Pac-Man going twice her speed while the rest of the game went normal speed. The latter allowed for people to obtain much higher scores.

* When playing the game on Pac-Man 2: The New Adventures the sound effects are the same as that of Pac-Man. Also the mazes are slightly altered in both games.

* This game is unlockable in Pac-Man 2 The New Adventures by collecting three Ms. Pac Man game pieces or by entering "MSPCMND" in the password screen

* There is an obscure glitch in the original arcade game. If the player inserts a coin at the title screen, before Blinky appears, and begins, the walls of the first maze will be dark blue instead of pink. This glitch only lasts until the player either loses a life or finishes the screen.

* This game is unlockable in Pac Man World 2 by collecting 180 Tokens.

Record Ms. Pac-Man scores

According to the Twin Galaxies Intergalactic Scoreboard, the high-score on Ms. Pac-Man was the most revered accomplishment in video game playing during the early 1980s. Because of the game's prestige, ABC-TV's "That's Incredible" aired, on October 11, 1982, a Ms. Pac-Man World Championship that was won by Tim Collum, of Boyd, TX.

Twin Galaxies reports that during the 1980s more fraudulent scores were submitted on Ms. Pac-Man than on any other arcade title. This was due to the level of fame accorded to the Ms. Pac-Man champion, which was far greater than for any other game of that era.

Official Succession of Verified Ms. Pac-Man World Champions:

1. 933,580 Abdner Ashman, Apollo Amusements, Pompano Beach, FL, April 6, 2006
2. 920,310 Chris Ayra, Miami, FL, September 16, 1998
3. 910,350 Rick Fothergill, Stoney Creek, ON, Canada, September 8, 1998
4. 874,530 Chris Ayra, Victoria, BC, Canada, June 30, 1985
5. 820,150 Chris Ayra, Miami, FL April 17, 1984
6. 703,560 Billy Mitchell, Hollywood, FL, January 27, 1984
7. 681,130 Tom Asaki, Twin Galaxies, Ottumwa, IA, October 2, 1983
8. 557,120 Billy Mitchell, World Class Amusements, Wilmington, NC, September 20, 1983
9. 436,500 Billy Mitchell, 7-11, Hollywood, FL, July 1, 1983
10. 419,950 Tom Asaki, Twin Galaxies, Ottumwa, IA, June 6, 1983
11. 411,050 Spencer Oueren, Twin Galaxies, Ottumwa, IA, June 5, 1983
12. 393,000 Tom Asaki, Bozeman, MT, May 5, 1983
13. 257,100 Darren Olsen, Twin Galaxies, Ottumwa, IA, March 20, 1983
14. 201,000 Joe Wingard, Whitefish, MT, June 1, 1982
15. 130,300 Rick Greenwasser, Kirksville, MO May 20,1982
16. 109,200 Jim Lennon, Staford, NJ, May 19, 1992
17. 102,080 Jeff Falduto, Belleville, NJ, March 16, 1994
18. 98,050 Jeff Thomas, Greenbay WI, October 19, 1987
19. 97,080 Noah Bratcher, Scotia, CA, May 18, 2007
20. 94,050 Braden Minor, Vancouver,BC, CA, July 10, 2006

In popular culture

* A Ms. Pac-Man machine is the basis of a storyline in the Friends episode The One Where Joey Dates Rachel. The plotline revolves around Chandler entering crude words onto the game's high-score screen and then have Phoebe attempt to beat his scores (thus removing them) before Ross's seven year old son arrives. In reality, Ms. Pac-Man does not have a high-score screen, displaying only the single best score, and the game does not allow players to enter their initials.

* In one series of strips in Bill Amend's popular newspaper comic strip FoxTrot, Jason Fox, who is in fifth grade and still detests girls, has a nightmare in which he is romanced by Tomb Raider heroine Lara Croft. In one of these strips, Lara keeps trying to persuade Jason to play her game, and Jason declares that he will never play a video game starring a girl. At this point, Lara says, "Permit me to reintroduce you to someone," and Ms. Pac-Man appears: "Hi, Jason. Remember me?"

* A Ms. Pac-Man unit appears in the 1983 movie WarGames, in the 1983 movie Joysticks, in the 1984 movie Tightrope (the cabinet appears in the background of the bar scene), in the 1990 movie The Grifters, in the 1999 movie Man On The Moon and in the 2002 movie Van Wilder.

* A Ms. Pac-Man machine is seen in Scrubs in the episode "My Own Private Practice Guy". 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 a ludicrously high score of 40,000,000.

* In an episode of the animated series Futurama, "Anthology of Interest II", in Fry's video game inspired segment Ms. Pac-Man appears after her husband, General Colin Pac-Man, is killed by a laser bolt from a Space Invader. Fry then asks Amy to tend to "the Widow Pac-Man".

* In the 1980s cartoon version of Pac-Man, she was named Pepper.

* In 1982, R. Cade and the Video Victims recorded a song titled "Ms. Pac-Man", using sound effects from the game, and released it on the album "Get Victimized", a lesser-known video game song album.

* While not inspired by the game, the song Game Over by rapper Lil Flip samples heavily from it.

* In the movie Are We There Yet?, Lindsay tells Nick that Kevin had a bad dream playing Ms. Pac-Man at the mall but refers to her as Lady Pac-Man.

* In The Go! Team's music video Junior Kickstart, Ms. Pac-Man is depicted running around New York City while being chased by Blinky, Inky and Pinky.

* In an episode of The Simpsons, Marge reminisces to a time in the early '80s when Ms. Pac-Man "struck a blow for women's rights."

* In the movie Wayne's World, Wayne asks the owner of 'Noah's Arcade' "I've always wanted to know what is the difference between Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man, really?", to which he replies "Well, she has a bow on her head". Wayne responds with: "That's it? Get right out of town!".

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