Bally/Midway - 1981 - Arcade
Ms. Pac-Man is an unauthorized sequel to the original Pac-Man produced by the Midway corporation. While similar to Pac-Man, it featured several new gameplay mechanics and quickly became one of the most popular Arcade games of all time.
While similar, Ms. Pac-Man introduced several new features that expanded upon the original. First off, Ms. Pac-Man featured a variety of maps to play on unlike Pac-Man, which only had the single maze repeated. There are 4 separate mazes in Ms. Pac-Man, each with a different difficulty. Maze 1 is light pink and is your average difficulty. Maze 2 is light blue and as multiple spots where you can easily be trapped. Maze 3 is red, is slightly less difficult, and only has one escape tunnel, and Maze 4 is dark blue and is almost as easy as the first. Other then the mazes, the fruit and ghosts behaviors have also changed significantly. In the original Pac-Man, the fruit would stay in a stationary location under the ghost nest, but in Ms. Pac the fruit will appear though one of the tunnel entrances and travel around the maze. The fruit is programmed to take the route that is most difficult for you to get too it, so you must be careful to not get trapped by ghosts while chasing it. The Ghosts have also changed in some major ways. The first is that Clyde, the orange ghost, has been replaced with Sue, his female doppelganger. The biggest change though is that they no longer strictly follow their patterns from the original Pac-Man. All the ghosts now have random movement cues as well as their specific characteristics, that make them far less predictable, and far more deadly. Outside of these changes, the gameplay is fairly similar. The game speed still increases with each stage and the object of the game remains the same, use power pills wisely and score as many points as you can.
There is a reason Ms. Pac-Man is one of the most popular Arcade games of all time, and one of my all time favorites. Ms. Pac-Man perfectly improved upon Pac-man’s already popular gameplay, adding where needed and keeping what made it so fun in the first place. The fast paced game play, and the equally fast thinking the game requires hooks you fast and hard. The cute, iconic graphics and sounds, and the simple and addicting game play appeal to players of all ages and skill levels. Simple, creative and addictive, this will always be one of my favorite games. If you somehow have never enjoyed this retro gem, do so now. And to those that haven’t played in a while, go to your local arcade, pull up a stool, and enjoy.