While many people have heard of the Ms. Pac-Man game, not everyone is aware of the origins and history of this game. Although it is based on Pac-Man, this game became popular in its own right during the 1980s but was not the game that was first intended.
Pac-Man was released in 1980 by Midway Manufacturing Corporation. This game was invented by Namco and became one of the most popular arcade games in history. This was followed in 1982 by another game called Ms. Pac-Man, which was the most popular arcade game released that year.
However, this game started out life in a different way than it is now known as it was first named ‘Crazy Otto’ and was intended as a kit for enhancing Pac-Man. The game was the innovation of a group of programmers who were working at a company called the General Computer Corporation. Unfortunately, the game could not go ahead with its release as the business became involved in a legal battle with Atari. As part of the settlement, they were banned from selling all such kits unless they had the appropriate permission from the original manufacturers of a game.
GCC did not want to scrap ‘Crazy Otto’, so they presented the game to Midway, who are the American distributors of Pac-Man for Midway. At the time, Midway was waiting for Namco to release Super Pac-Man, the follow-up to the original game. ‘Crazy Otto’ caught their attention and they bought the rights.
Midway collaborated with Namco and GCC to develop the game ready for its release. This involved multiple changes taking place. First, they changed the lead character to Pac-Man, just like in the original game, and the name to Super Pac-Man. However, they then decided to change the lead character to a female as they had been inspired by a female character from Crazy Otto. This led to the developers deciding to call the game Pac-Woman before changing it again to Miss Pac-Man.
This name was then binned as there were protests relating to the two computer game characters of the opposite sex potentially having a child outside of marriage. For this reason, the name was changed again to Mrs. Pac-Man before they finally chose the name under which it was released and is now known.
Despite the character being inspired by one from the ‘Crazy Otto’ game, a spokesperson for Midway claimed that they had released this game in recognition of the fact that the majority of the players of the original Pac-Man were women. He said it was a way of thanking the women who had played and enjoyed Pac-Man.
Following its release in 1982, it was the runner-up for the Coin-Op Game of the Year at the Arcade Awards and received a certificate of merit. There was also a battle relating to the royalties of this game as Midway and GCC were accused of developing and releasing it without the consent of Namco. This led to both companies involved handing over the rights to Namco. Doug Macrae has always disputed the fact that the game was released without the knowledge of Namco. He has even argued that Namco’s president, which was Masaya Nakamura at that time, was involved in giving feedback relating to the artwork of the game during the development stages.