Ms. Pac-Man (Arcade): Does It Hold Up?
In a world with so much emphasis on HD graphics and unbelievably high polygon counts, arcades don't get that much love anymore. It's a shame, too, because a lot of great old school arcade cabinets are still out there, playable to folks who either do a little looking or just happen to go to their local brick and mortar shops. Not too long ago, I happened to come across a Ms. Pac-Man machine at my local mom-and-pop burger joint. So after placing my order, I went out on a sexy date with Pac-Man's lovely wife.
Even after playing the superb Pac-Man Championship Edition DX (which I consider to be the absolute best incarnation of the series), I couldn't help but become enamored with the fruit-gobbling, maze-running antics of Ms. Pac-Man.
First off, with the exception of the aforementioned Championship Edition DX, you probably won't find a better version of Pac-Man than Ms. Pac-Man. That's not just hyperbole on my part, either. The small doses of variety implemented into this arcade gem are such that they help this particular game trump its arcade brethren back in the day. That's not to say retro Pac-Man was or is bad, but there are some nice additions here that make this specific game just a lot more fun all around.
Ms. Pac-Man includes a total of four mazes. Not a whole lot, sure, but still more than the original game's singe level. Additionally, the ghosts that give chase don't follow a specific pattern. Instead, their movements are slightly randomized, forcing you to rely on quick decisions rather than memorization. Not only is that a big game changer when compared to original Pac-Man, but it keeps the game interesting longer.
Since its actual entertainment is rooted in short bursts of play at the cost of a few cents at a time, Ms. Pac-Man isn't ideal for lengthy play sessions. It's the perfect game if you've got a few minutes to kill. It's also a good choice if high scores are your bread and butter. You won't get as much mileage out of it as something more modern, but that doesn't mean Ms. Pac-Man isn't a wonderful little arcade machine.
The verdict: Ms. Pac-Man trumps her husband's original arcade outings
There's a reason people go nuts over Ms. Pac-Man. Not only does the game offer up that familiar Pac-Man feel with a few notable improvements, but it also holds up remarkably well. Personally, I think it's second only to Championship Edition DX. As a classic arcade title, though, this joyously simplistic, ridiculously addictive maze adventure stands tall as one of the best.
Ms. Pac-Man will run you a few thousand bucks if you invest in an actual cabinet (over $2,000 to be exact). That said, if you come across one of these at a pizza place or general store, give it a play. A few quarters will get you some solid arcade fun. You could always go for one of the multiplatform versions, but that's not nearly as cool as the actual machine. If you can afford it, you should totally shell out the cash for a cabinet. It'll make for a great conversation piece. Plus, it's freakin' Ms. Pac-Man, dude!
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