Mario Walking

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Bally Midway's Pac Family

Everyone has heard of Namco, mostly due to the games Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man. We know there're other Pac-Man games out there but never take the time to play them, or even acknowledge them. But Ms. Pac-Man didn't actually always hold the Namco name, in fact, a company called Bally Midway that used to have a licensing agreement with Namco. Several games led to the termination of this agreement, including the creation of Ms. Pac-Man.

Ms. Pac-Man: A company called General Computer Corporation created the first version of Ms. Pac-Man, a game called Crazy Otto. Crazy Otto featured a character very similar to Pac-Man except with legs and a blue eye. In order to avoid  a lawsuit General Computer Corporation presented Crazy Otto to Bally Midway. However, rather than approving or disapproving the game Bally Midway bought Crazy Otto from General Computer Corporation because they were tired of waiting for Namco to produce Super Pac-Man. With Crazy Otto Bally Midway changed some details to make the game into Ms. Pac-Man. Not only did they not even create the game, they then released it without Namco's permission.

   It took Namco years to get the rights to Ms. Pac-Man. It also was only one of the  games that ended up influencing Namco to break it's relationship with Bally Midway. Bally Midway had created a whole Pac-Man family without Namco's permission before Namco was finally influenced to end their deal. Another one of Bally Midway's unauthorized games is Jr. Pac-Man.

Jr. Pac-Man: This game is similar to the other Pac-Man games, but the maze is two times wider. Because of this the camera pans left and right to follow Jr. Pac-Man. Another difference is the fact that these mazes didn't have tunnels that led to the other side of the maze like most Pac-Man mazes and the mazes usually has six power pellets rather than four. Finally, the fruits (which were actually not fruits at all) will bounce around like regular, but upon encountering a dot will change the dots into large dots that, when eaten, slow Jr. Pac-Man down but are worth more points. If a fruit were to encounter a power pellet before eaten it would self-destruct, destroying both itself and the power pellet. The final tiny difference is that the orange ghost (who, despite the name Sue in Ms. Pac-Man is actually named Clyde) is named Tim rather than Sue or Clyde. This game isn't considered part of the Pac-Man series, unlike Ms. Pac-Man.

You'd think after both of these Namco would be done, but Bally Midway still had two more games it managed to release with no permission before they lost their licensing agreement.

Baby Pac-Man:  Baby Pac-Man is also not considered part of the Pac-Man series. The game is a hybrid of a pinball machine and a video game. It had a video mode and a pinball mode. In the video game mode it was like any other Pac-Man game, except that there were no power pellets at the start of the game. Also, the maze is different, with two tunnels leading off screen at the bottom. If the player enters one of these tunnels they start the pinball mode. In the pinball mode of the game you play like regular pinball, trying to earn fruits, speed increases or power pellets. Once the player loses pinball mode the video mode  resumes but the chutes are shut off until the player is either caught by a ghost or eats all of the dots on that level.

 Professor Pac-Man: This is the final game Bally Midway game that was released without Namco's permission. All of these games led to the end of their licensing agreement. This game is counted as part of the Pac-Man series despite Bally Midway publishing it, like Ms. Pac-Man. This game has nothing to do with Pac-Man besides the title and the fact that the character in it is a Pac-person. Because of it's abandonment of the maze gameplay it flopped, all the game featured was "Professor Pac-Man" asking you questions and giving you a limited time to answer. Not only was this a simple game design and didn't even do very good, but also the idea for a "Professor Pac-Man" game had originally come from Johnny Lott and Ed Adlum (a game where Pac-Man would be eating questions rather than dots). When this idea was pitched to Bally Midway they said they weren't interested but when Lott and Adlum discovered they had created a Professor Pac-Man Game anyway they managed to get a royalty deal with Bally Midway.

So there, you've been introduced to the Pac Family, even if they weren't created by Namco and some were never even accepted into the Pac-Man Series. And some just asked dumb questions.

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