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Ms. Pacman

Anyone who has ever ventured into an arcade or even a laundromat since 1981 has played the game that has gone on to be a classic like no others, even surpassing the popularity of its predecessor. The little yellow lady friend of our dot munching hero finally makes her way onto the Xbox Live Arcade in another slightly disappointing attempt by Namco.

Rather than try to reinvent their games Namco seems content to release pure ports of the arcade versions of games, and while I truly appreciate the authenticity of the titles offered it is a refreshing to see new takes on titles, such as Frogger or Scramble. Ms. Pac-Man is presented in all of its arcade glory, and even goes as far as padding out the majority of a widescreen television with a simulated marquee. The game plays exactly how one would expect it to play, but as most arcade gamers are well aware the Xbox 360 controller does leave something to be desired.

Ms. Pac-Man differentiates itself from Pac-Man in a couple ways, more than just the introduction of not only Ms. Pac-Man and Jr. The biggest change that Ms had going for it was the different layouts for levels rather than the same static image throughout the entire game. As you progress through the game the background levels change and with it the level of challenge that the “intelligent” ghosts provide. I say intelligent because they do not operate on a predicted path, but rather choose a direction when they reach an intersection, which does add to the replay value of the title.

However Namco did not take into account some of the pitfalls that gamers around the world pointed out with the release of Pac-Man and Dig Dug earlier. The game can be continued indefinitely from the same level that you lose your last life on which in essence makes 170 out of the 200 gamer points ridiculously easy to obtain. In fact the point distribution is a replica of the structure that Pac-Man used.

Being a true port of the arcade expect the graphics and audio to be exactly as remembered, right down to the repeated sound effects as the pellets find their way down your gullet on level after level. Namco even went to the trouble to include small bugs that were in the original arcade game, so from time to time be ready to see Ms. Pac-Man move right through a ghost and also be ready to watch Act III of the illicit affair between the two pellet munchers multiple times.

Aside from the static images potentially leaving a mark in the TVs of dedicated pellet pounders who have a plasma TV the other enormous disappointment was the absent speed mod that so many people love to use when playing Ms. Pac-Man in arcades. In the options you can set a number of lives up to five and adjust the screen size, so why not include this much beloved hack? Leaderboards are not updated for gamers who alter the game from the default settings anyway, so where is the harm? Can we all say patch?

Overall the 400 points that you’ll need to spend on this arcade title are more than likely better used to enhance your Lumines Live! experience, especially if you’ve already been bitten once by the Pac-Man bug. Gamers who absolutely need this title may enjoy the game for a short time, but other gamers will be feeling a bit of buyer’s remorse not long after obtaining the easiest 170 gamer points around. Skip this title and help spur innovation on the arcade.