Curmudgeon Gamer
Curmudgeoning all games equally.
13 January 2007
Ms. Pac-man's dirty little secret
The review of the Xbox Live Arcade version of Ms. Pac-man makes me angry. Not the review, per se, but that dirty little secret that the big media feel like they can't mention in public:
No one actually plays the original Ms. Pac-man.
That's right. The original game is a plodding exercise in frustration. What we all really enjoy is a rousing game of the sped up version of Ms. Pac-man that has dominated arcades everywhere since -- well, a very, very long time.

To my knowledge the only thing approximating this mode is the fast mode offered by Tengen's cartridge version of this game (on SNES and Sega Genesis, perhaps others). Even there, it's not quite what you'd expect and the Ms. gets a pair of wings on her head or something to show that she's going FAST! Every other version -- on the many incarnations of the Namco Museum, particularly -- is the slow-as-molasses original.

So why do we keep getting the same lame version that no one actually likes? And why can't someone reviewing the game for a big site come right out and tell Namco how much the slow version stinks?

Update: Just so it's clear: slow original vs. fast modification. I prefer the latter, but Namco doesn't even offer the option. (Possible exception noted in comment below by JohnH.)

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--Matt Matthews at 02:50
Comment [ 10 ]

Comments on this post:

Posting this from my Wii as a test....

I remember reading that "20-year Reunion," Namco's arcade machine with Ms. Pac-man & Galaga, has the fast game (and fast shots for Galaga, a popular mod of that game) as an operator setting. As far as I know, no other Namco release of the game has the fast game.

By Blogger JohnH, at 13 January, 2007 06:36  

I have to assume that you're talking about the fact that Ms. Pac Man slows down when she consumes a dot. That's one of the primary new gameplay mechanics that separates it from Pac Man, and it's always been there.

By Blogger Jeremy, at 13 January, 2007 08:24  

JohnH: Ah, interesting to know. I wonder why Namco treats it so? Perhaps sensitive that someone else hacked their game to be so much better than the original? ;^)

Jeremy: No. The original game is actually very slow compared to what you find in arcades now. From the KLOV:

A variety of different speed-up options have been made available to enhance the game. These range from simple ROM swaps to the addition of sub-boards, hacks or custom circuitry.

Source: KLOV

By Blogger jvm, at 13 January, 2007 09:52  

There were dozens of hacks of Pac Man. IIRC, MPM is a Midway developed version of one of the Pac Man clones that had appeared in the US.

Namco's certainly managed to profit from the extended branding though, I doubt they're terribly upset by the cavalcade of clones.

By Blogger Jeremy, at 13 January, 2007 10:10  

Just to be clear...

This is standard Ms. Pac-man speed. Ms. Pac is moving pretty slowly compared to the next video.

This is the speed I'm used to playing. That's not some insanely high's actually pretty early, but look how fast Ms. Pac moves.

I haven't seen one of the slow machines in the wild since last century.

By Blogger jvm, at 13 January, 2007 11:30  

I've seen a "slow machine," but only as a 20 Year Reunion machine that hadn't been set to fast play.

It so happens that there is another kind of sped-up machine that can be found, one that, in addition to speeding up the Ms. Pac-Man, also speeds up the ghosts to commensurate speeds. The Brunswick arcade I used to go to years ago had one, and it was entertaining to play once in a while, if you didn't mind losing really quickly. I think I once made it to level three on that....

By Blogger JohnH, at 13 January, 2007 11:34  

I've never seen a machine set to that fast speed.

Then again, I haven't been in an arcade with a Ms. Pac Man machine in quite some time. Does Aladdin's Castle exist anymore (Namco's arcades)?

There certainly aren't any around here now (Boston). They used to have a very bad reputation as places where a lot of drug dealing went on, I recall being told to avoid them.

By Blogger Jeremy, at 13 January, 2007 12:22  

I could not agree with you more on this. I have purchased several of the Namco museum incarnations hoping that one of them will have the speed setting as an option to turn on or off. It baffles me that they refuse to release a Ms. Pac-Man with this simple feature. After having the same game released over and over and over again, you'd think the suits would see it as a feature to market in a new release. Someday it's got to come....right??

By Blogger Keefe, at 26 September, 2008 16:02  

Nice to see that I'm not the only one that noticed this. I can't stand playing Ms. Pacman on the slow setting. It borders on excruciating! The $4.99 version that I bought on my iPhone was an utter disappointment, as it too was the molasses version we Pacman lovers have all come to loath.

By Blogger bree, at 09 February, 2011 12:53  

Note sure if this would help anyone, but just happened to run across this thread.

If you own the 20th anniversary edition:

In freeplay, pushing any start button will bring up the game select screen.

To enable Pacman:
At the select screen, push the joystick up, up, up down, down, down, left, right, left, right,
left, then press the start button.

To enable Speedy Ms. Pacman & Rapid Fire Galaga:
At the select screen, push the joystick left, right, left, right, up, up, up, fire then the start

- This enables the speed setting for one game only.
To enable Speedy Pacman:
At the select screen, push the joystick up, up, up, down, down, down, left, right, left,
right, left, left, right, left, right, up, up, up, fire then the start button

The speed settings in the setup menu are overridden with these codes. If the game
settings are set to normal speed these codes will change them to fast speed for one game

If the game settings are set to fast, these codes will change them to normal speed for one
game only.

By Blogger Adam, at 25 July, 2012 14:47  

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