Obsessive Pac-fans of a sure age might keep in mind Ms. Pac-Man’s cameo look in Pac-Land, the 1984 side-scrolling spin-off that first gave Pac-Man legs. This week’s re-release of the sport on the Swap appears to have thrown the “miss” down the reminiscence gap, although, an odd retcon that could be the results of the difficult authorized historical past surrounding Ms. Pac-Man‘s creation.
Pac-Man e-book contributor Ryan Silberman and artist Nick Caballero have been among the many first to notice the obvious change on Twitter this week. They highlighted Pac-Land Swap screenshots during which Ms. Pac-Man’s iconic bow and excessive, purple boots have been changed with a personality sporting pink excessive heels and an identical hat. The sprite for the baby-sized Jr. Pac-Man has been equally modified to take away the trademark purple bow that was first seen in 1983’s Jr. Pac-Man.
Leaving the sprites of their unique type would have clearly been the less complicated alternative for Hamster, which publishes the Arcade Archives collection on Swap. And the outline for Pac-Land‘s Arcade Archives re-release notes that the “collection has faithfully reproduced many basic Arcade masterpieces,” making such a minor change much more weird. What is going on on right here?
Who owns Ms. Pac-Man?
Bandai Namco hasn’t responded to a request for remark from Ars Technica concerning the modification. However the transfer in all probability has one thing to do with the lengthy and complex authorized historical past of Ms. Pac-Man itself.
Whereas the unique Pac-Man is a completely owned Namco creation, the Ms. Pac-Man arcade cupboard began life as a “speed-up equipment” referred to as Loopy Otto that was created by a bunch of MIT college students calling themselves Common Pc Company (GCC). That modification equipment was ultimately spun into the 1982 launch of Ms. Pac-Man, with Namco’s official blessing.
In a 1983 lawsuit, GCC acquired a perpetual proper to obtain a royalty any time Namco re-released a brand new model of Ms. Pac-Man or Jr. Pac-Man (which GCC additionally developed). That royalty, which was renegotiated in 2008, helps clarify why these two video games are so hardly ever included in Pac-compilations to today.
Quick-forward to 2019, when AtGames introduced it had acquired these royalty rights from GCC throughout its makes an attempt to launch a brand new Ms. Pac-Man retro cupboard. That in flip led to a lawsuit from Namco Bandai that was settled in 2020 for undisclosed phrases.