|Developer:||General Computer Corporation|
|Designer:||Doug Macrae, John Tylko, & Kevin Curran|
|Release Date:||February 3, 1982|
|Monitor:||Vertically oriented, 224 x 288, 16 palette colors|
|Layout:||Bezel, Control Panel, PCB|
|Cabinet Type(s):||Standard upright;
|Arcade CPU:||1x ZiLOG Z80 @ 3.072 MHz|
|Sound:||1x Namco WSG (3-channel mono) @ 3.072 MHz|
|Misc:||Dip Switch Settings|
|Read The Review:||N/A|
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.
- The very first level in Ms. Pac-Man consists of a pink colored maze. This maze has two portals on either side of the screen, 220 dots and the standard number of power pills. Ms. Pac-Man will start off near the bottom of the screen, and she will move toward the left. There are a couple of large, block shaped barriers that will make maneuvering tricky, but the ghosts will come out of their box slowly, one by one. If you choose to clear the bottom of the maze first, make sure that you have a strategy in mind for tackling the top portion. The cherry bonus that is standard on level one is worth a total of 100 points. Do not go after this bonus if you risk losing a man. Clear all of the dots to move to level two.
- Level two again features the pink maze. Although this stage looks exactly the same as level one, there are some notable changes. The ghosts will exit their box a little faster, and there is also a new fruit bonus, the strawberry, which is valued at 200 points. There will again be 220 dots on this level. The four power pills will still be in each of the four corners of this maze, and Ms. Pac-Man will be able to access four portals. The first of three animated sequences plays directly after the completion of level two. Both Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man are shown fleeing from ghosts individually. In the last portion of this animated short, Ms. Pac-Man and Pac-Man make a clean get away, leaving the two ghosts to run into each other.
- The third stage features a new maze that is light blue in color. There are four portals within this maze, but two of them are a little harder to access. Ms. Pac-Man will need to eat a total of 240 dots in order to clear this board. Eating all of the dots on the bottom two thirds of this maze will be simple enough. However, the L-shaped barriers near the top of the screen make it difficult for Ms. Pac-Man to reach the two top most portals and power dots. The best strategy for completing level three utilizes a “round 'em up” method.” By moving around the barriers, you can hold off on consuming a power pill until you have rounded up at least three of the ghosts. When you have eaten a power pill on the bottom half of the screen, you will need to eat all nearby ghosts rounded up into a group quickly, then go directly to the top of the board. When you eat one of the power pills on the top of the screen, all remaining ghosts will flee the area and you will be able to quietly clear the area of dots. The orange food bonus worth 500 points also appears on this level.
- The light blue maze again appears on level four, but a different part of this stage is regarded as the most dangerous area. The area immediately surrounding Ms. Pac-Man should be cleared and vacated as the ghosts will be exiting the box very quickly. As soon as they leave the box, they will start to pursue you. Use one of the paths to the far side of the screen in order to make it to the top. You should eat as many dots as you can, but stay close to the power pill in case you are ambushed. When you eat a power pill, try to eat the ghosts that are within a few paces of Ms. Pac-Man. Otherwise, eat all of the dots, making sure not to leave any stragglers behind. The pretzel bonus appears on this stage. Run after the bouncing pretzel and gobble it up for an extra 700 points.
- This is the last time that you will have to complete the light blue maze until later on in the game. By now, the ghosts will be moving at rapid speed, and the length that the power pills lasts will be severely shortened. Players will need to make sharp and precise turns in order to evade their enemies. The 1,000 point apple bonus appears within this maze. Food bonuses will also disappear almost as quickly as they appear. Eat the 240 dots and the four power pills present on this stage to get to level six. At the end of this stage, Act II will begin to play. This time, Ms. Pac-Man and Pac-Man will be chasing after each other in a joking manner.
- The orange maze has to be competed for times in total, and it appears on for the first time on the sixth level. There are 230 dots on this stage, so Ms. Pac-Man will have to cover a little less ground. However, you will only have two portals to work with. The portals are situated kind of high up on the screen, which makes the bottom of the board hard to complete. If you manage to stay around long enough during stage six, you will have the chance to snag the 2,000 pear bonus. If you move Ms. Pac-Man so that she blocks the entrance to the portal on the left, you should notice the ghosts moving in a circular pattern. Eventually, they will catch on to Ms. Pac-Man's position, but this safe area can be used at different points in order to avoid enemies.
- Level seven contains the orange colored maze, which contains the same number of dots and portals as before. The ghosts will continue to increase in speed, but you will also get a chance to pick up the bonus food item with the highest value in Ms. Pac-Man. The banana yields 5,000 points.
- This is the third time that the orange maze appears in this game. From now on, the 5,000 point banana food bonus will be the only icon to appear. Your enemies will be moving a lot quicker and the power pills will last a much shorter period.
- Level nine marks the last time that the orange maze appears in this part of the game. Use the power pills to clear the surrounding area of all ghosts, and then move quickly while eating dots on your way to the next destination. Once all 230 dots have been eaten, you can go to the 10th level. At the end of this round, the final animated intermission, Act III will be played. Ms. Pac-Man and Pac-Man are officially a couple, and it is revealed that Jr. Pac-Man has been born.
- After Act III is finished playing, Ms. Pac-Man will go to level 10, where the dark blue maze awaits. This is the fourth and final maze pattern in Ms. Pac-Man. The four portals on this level actually make it more difficult for players to complete this stage without losing a life. Both sets of tunnels are adjacent to one another, which means that a ghost can go through a tunnel next to the one that you are traveling through and be ready to attack as soon as you exit. Otherwise, the dark blue maze is fairly simple to complete. Try to clear the dots both above and below the ghost box first.
- Level 11 moves a little faster than level 10, but otherwise, it is exactly the same. Pick up the banana fruit bonus whenever possible so that you can get closer to earning an extra life.
- Level 12 is yet another repeat of round 10 and round 11.
- Ghosts will be moving at record speed and power pills will wear off within a second. After you beat round 13, you will get to see Act III played again.
- This and every level after. The remaining stages in Ms. Pac-Man are tedious rather than difficult. The initial 13 rounds are difficult because you are just beginning to learn the patterns of the ghosts. You will not play the pink maze or the light blue maze after you make it to this point in the maze. Once you have mastered both the orange and the dark blue maze, you will know exactly when the bonus food item will appear, and what move the ghosts will make next.
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:
- 933,580 Abdner Ashman, Apollo Amusements, Pompano Beach, FL, April 6, 2006
- 920,310 Chris Ayra, Miami, FL, September 16, 1998
- 910,350 Rick Fothergill, Stoney Creek, ON, Canada, September 8, 1998
- 874,530 Chris Ayra, Victoria, BC, Canada, June 30, 1985
- 820,150 Chris Ayra, Miami, FL April 17, 1984
- 703,560 Billy Mitchell, Hollywood, FL, January 27, 1984
- 681,130 Tom Asaki, Twin Galaxies, Ottumwa, IA, October 2, 1983
- 557,120 Billy Mitchell, World Class Amusements, Wilmington, NC, September 20, 1983
- 436,500 Billy Mitchell, 7-11, Hollywood, FL, July 1, 1983
- 419,950 Tom Asaki, Twin Galaxies, Ottumwa, IA, June 6, 1983
- 411,050 Spencer Oueren, Twin Galaxies, Ottumwa, IA, June 5, 1983
- 393,000 Tom Asaki, Bozeman, MT, May 5, 1983
- 257,100 Darren Olsen, Twin Galaxies, Ottumwa, IA, March 20, 1983
- 201,000 Joe Wingard, Whitefish, MT, June 1, 1982
- 130,300 Rick Greenwasser, Kirksville, MO May 20,1982
- 109,200 Jim Lennon, Staford, NJ, May 19, 1992
- 102,080 Jeff Falduto, Belleville, NJ, March 16, 1994
- 98,050 Jeff Thomas, Greenbay WI, October 19, 1987
- 97,080 Noah Bratcher, Scotia, CA, May 18, 2007
- 94,050 Braden Minor, Vancouver,BC, CA, July 10, 2006
In popular culture
- A Ms. Pac-Man machine is the basis of a story line in the Friends episode The One Where Joey Dates Rachel. The plot line 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 War Games, 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!".