Ms. Pac-Man is a 1982 maze arcade game that was the sequel to Pac-Man which was released in 1980. The player controls Ms. Pacman and is tasked with eating all of the pellets in an enclosed maze while avoiding four colored ghosts. Eating large flashing “Power Pellets” will cause the ghosts to turn blue and flee, which can be consumed for bonus points.
Multiple names were considered for the game, including Super Pac-Man, Miss Pac-Man and Mrs. Pac-Man, before the final name was chosen for being easier to pronounce. While the game was reportedly made without Namco’s blessing, Namco president Masaya Nakamura provided feedback on the player character’s design, and the company collected the same royalties on each cabinet as they had with Pac-Man.
Ms. Pac-Man was acclaimed by critics for its improvements to the original gameplay and female protagonist, some labeling it as superior to Pac-Man. It has been listed among the greatest video games of all time and one of the most successful American arcade games ever made.
The gameplay is very similar to that of Pac-Man. The player earns points by eating pellets and avoiding monsters (contact with one causes Ms. Pac-Man to lose a life). Eating an energizer (or “power pellet”) causes the monsters 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 monsters’ vulnerability, eventually stopping altogether.
Differences from the original Pac-Man
- The game has four mazes that appear in different color schemes and alternate after each of the game’s intermissions are seen. The pink maze appears in levels one and two; the light blue maze appears in levels three, four, and five; the brown maze appears in levels six to nine; and the dark blue maze appears in levels 10 to 14. After level 14, the maze configurations alternate every fourth 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 monsters’ 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 monster 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 monster 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 basis for the attract opening sequence in Jr. Pac-Man.
- The sound effects and music are all new.