What’s going on with Ms. Pac-Man?

The seminal side-scrolling platformer Pac-Land gained an Arcade Archives re-release today. Those with eagle eyes will have spotted that Ms. Pac-Man is looking a little different. Gone is her trademark red bow, replaced with a dashing pink bonnet and matching pink shoes.

This alteration is seemingly down to a long-running dispute between AtGames and Namco, in which AtGames – manufacturers of mini-arcade games and plug ‘n plays – acquired the royalty rights to Ms. Pac-Man from General Computer Corporation (GCC) a few years ago.  

GCC was responsible for Ms. Pac-Man back in ‘80s, originally creating an enhancement kit for Pac-Man – known as Crazy Otto – which was then sold onto Midway. After a dispute with Namco – which Polygon covered extensively in 2019 – AtGames retaliated by acquiring the royalty rights, meaning whenever Ms. Pac-Man is featured, they earn a sum of cash.

Clearly fed up with this arrangement, a workaround has been put in place. Enter Pac-Mom, a replacement for Ms. Pac-Man. This links into sightings of the new character in next month’s Pac-Man Museum+ where they can be seen – sporting the same pink headwear – as a background character and as a trophy.

We sincerely hope Namco is able to come to an agreement with AtGames in the future. Namco losing a piece of their history makes us feel oddly uncomfortable, and we’re sure we aren’t alone in feeling this way.

Sources: @RyanSilberman, @EZ_takayoshi

Matt Gander

Matt is Games Asylum's most prolific writer, having produced a non-stop stream of articles since 2001. A retro collector and bargain hunter, his knowledge has been found in the pages of tree-based publication Retro Gamer.

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