Ms. Pac-Man: Classic Arcade Game Video, History & Game Play Overview


While the original Pac-Man arcade game created by Namco was a worldwide success, it's even more popular sequel was originally labeled a copycat spin-off. Ms. Pac-Man debuted in the United States in 1981, as an unauthorized collaboration between Midway and General Computer Corporation. Namco had previously been working with General Computer Corporation to convert existing Pac-Man arcade machines with a new kit called Crazy Otto.

General Computer Corporation's legal troubles with a different video game distributor eventually resulted in a ban on the unauthorized sale of arcade game conversion kits. After having the opportunity to review Crazy Otto in its original form, Midway struck a deal with General Computer Corporation, which eventually led to the creation of Ms. Pac-Man.

Although Namco was the original creator of the Pac-Man game concept, Midway was able to purchase the complete game rights to Ms. Pac-Man. A few tweaks were made to alter the game's appearance and give it a slightly unique twist. Ultimately, Ms. Pac-Man was premiered in United States arcade, and it eventually went on to become the best-selling arcade game of its time.

In an attempt to put a spin on the situation, Midway made a public statement ahead of the release of Ms. Pac-Man. Midway Marketing Director, Stan Jarocki, stated that Ms. Pac-Man was created to pay homage to the female gamers that helped to make the original Pac-Man a success. By introducing the first female protagonist in an arcade game, Midway made history. Unfortunately for Midway, Namco was able to attain all rights to Ms. Pac-Man a short time later. Midway also had all future distribution rights to the Pac-Man series rescinded by Namco.

Ms. Pac-Man was ported to most popular U.S. home video gaming systems, such as the Nintendo Entertainment System, the Atari 5200, 7800, 2600 and 8-bit, the Xbox 360, the Game Boy Color and Commodore 64. The original, unaltered version of Ms. Pac-Man continues to be ported to contemporary gaming systems along with several new and revised versions. Ms. Pac-Man has also been included in numerous video game collections and anthologies.

The most recent version of Ms. Pac-Man appears within a collection of games featured on Pac-Man's 30th anniversary collection by Namco. Ms. Pac-Man is a one and two player game.


Game Play Overview

Other than appearance, there are few substantive differences between Pac-Man and the Ms. Pac-Man sequel. Ms. Pac-Man is the name of the arcade game itself as well as the main character. The small yellow colored character with bright red lipstick, a beauty mark and a large red bow represents Ms. Pac-Man. Gamers control this character with the directional keys as her mouth opens and closes in tune with her movements.

Moving through a series of mazes, Ms. Pac-Man's objective is to eat all of the dots and power pills present on each stage. There are portals on each board that enable players to escape their enemies, and appear on the other side of the screen. The number of dots and portals vary from level to levels, as well as the layout of each maze.

Four colored ghosts named Sue, Pinky, Blinky, and Inky are generated in a small rectangle near the center of the display. These ghosts roam the maze freely, but ultimately, they will make a beeline for Ms. Pac-Man, and sometimes attack her in groups. Ms. Pac-Man can eat the ghosts whenever a power pill has been activated. This short spurt of power will also make the ghosts retreat

When a ghost is eaten, a point bonus will be awarded and the ghost will not regenerate again for a few moments. Ghosts are normally lethal to Ms. Pac-Man as a single touch will cause players to lose a turn. After every few boards, animated intermissions are played. These short, animated sequences show how Ms. Pac-Man factors into the Pac-Man series. After the second maze is completed, Act I plays. Act II comes after the fifth board and Act II repeatedly plays directly after the completion of levels nine, 13 and 17.

There are a total of four maze layouts in Ms. Pac-Man. Although there is a definitive end to this game, the main objective is to score the most points. Eating dots, ghosts, fruit and power pills are the only ways that players can increase their scores.

Special Features

Ms. Pac-Man features seven different fruit bonus icons. Cherries appear on the first stage and yield 100 bonus points when gobbled up by Ms. Pac-Man. The strawberry fruit bonus is valued at 200 points and appears on the second level. On the third stage, the orange fruit icon is featured. The orange is worth 500 points.

The pretzel isn't a fruit, but this is the icon that comes on the fourth level. You will get 700 points if you are able to catch it. Apples are assigned to the fifth stage, and they are worth 1,000 bonus points. Pears are valued at 2,000 points. Pears are only seen on the sixth board. Lastly, the 5,000 point banana fruit bonus icon appears on the seventh stage and every level thereafter.

Extra lives are usually earned every 10,000 points, but Ms. Pac-Man arcade machine settings can be changed so that bonus lives come every 20,000 or 50,000 points.

Ghosts can only be eaten when Ms. Pac-Man has consumed a power pill. You can earn a total of 1600 points if you get all four ghosts when a power pill is active. If you eat another power pill, the point bonus that you get for eating ghosts is reset.

Each power pill is worth 50 points. Single dots are worth 10 points each.


Dots – There will be more than 200 dots for you to eat on every level. Clearing dots is the only way to progress in Ms. Pac-Man.

Fruit – If the bouncing fruit is not eaten quickly, it will go away and you will not be able to get the additional points.

Power Pills – Ms. Pac-Man has access to four power pills on each level. You will know that it is activated because the ghosts will flash until the power pills become inactive.

Ghosts – Four ghosts named Blinky, Sue, Inky and Pinky patrol the maze and pursue Ms. Pac-Man. Sometimes ghosts can be eaten, but most of the time it is best to avoid them.

How to Play Ms. Pac-Man

Game play in Ms. Pac-Man is fairly simple. Move the left, right, up and down buttons to navigate between barriers and eat dots, and use the portals to pull a fast one on ghosts. Ms. Pac-Man will continue to move even when the directional keys are not pressed if she has a clear path. However, she can become 'stuck' in a corner if you do not turn fast enough. The timing of your moves will be essential in this game.

Level 1
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 2
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.

Level 3
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.

Level 4
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.

Level 5
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.

Level 6
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 7
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.

Level 8
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 9
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.

Level 10
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
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
Level 12 is yet another repeat of round 10 and round 11.

Level 13
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.

Beyond Level 13
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.

Hints and Tips
- Do not risk your life for the bonus food items. Even if you manage to score an extra life in the process, you will also risk losing momentum. The only exception to this rule comes in when Ms. Pac-Man needs to clear the board of ghosts in order to get a few random dots left in a difficult area.

- Ghosts can kill you while you travel through the portals. If you see a ghost entering from the opposite end, double back and go back out the same way that you came in.


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