Pac-Mom

A funny thing happened this past week with Bandai / Namco re-releasing the classic game Pac-Land onto the Nintendo Switch. Pac superstar Miss Pac-Man was nowhere to be found. Instead she was replaced with a character named Pac-Mom and, yeah, there was confusion as to what is going on here.

Kyle Orland at Ars Technica goes down the rabbit hole that is Pac-Man, the reason such an incredible sequel exists, and the convoluted copyright situation that’s come along with it all since the 80’s.

While the original Pac-Man is a wholly owned Namco creation, the Ms. Pac-Man arcade cabinet started life as a “speed-up kit” called Crazy Otto that was created by a group of MIT students calling themselves General Computer Corporation (GCC). That modification kit was eventually spun into the 1982 release of Ms. Pac-Man, with Namco’s official blessing.

In a 1983 lawsuit, GCC acquired a perpetual right to receive a royalty any time Namco re-released a new version of Ms. Pac-Man or Jr. Pac-Man (which GCC also developed). That royalty, which was renegotiated in 2008, helps explain why those two games are so rarely included in Pac-compilations to this day.

Ars Technica

It’s interesting to think that Pac-Man has endured for so many decades, but now only after reading about this have I realized the lack of re-releases of Ms. Pac-Man. It’s sad and frustrating to see legal issues get in the way of game preservation and re-releases. To me, these are what give the games new life and bring them to new audiences. Yes, Ms. Pac-Man isn’t the greatest game ever, but it’s fun and important especially to Namco’s history. For now, we will have to endure this weird “new” character, Pac-Mom.

This has been another article for curious readers like you.

TimeMachiner helps you find that next great article, like this one, by sharing the best in tech, culture, and nostalgia.

Subscribe below. It fits great in your inbox.