Retro Vault is our regular weekly feature in which we dive into gaming's past and share five classic nuggets of retro nostalgia. If you want to catch up on previous Retro Vaults, check out the CVG Retro Vault archive.
January 1982 - Ms Pac-Man arcade flyer
Though you may think Ms Pac-Man was a simple case of Namco releasing a quick sequel to capitalise on the success of the original, the actual story is more complicated and doesn't actually involve Namco at all.
Midway was the official US distributor of Pac-Man, and was getting anxious waiting for Namco, located in Japan, to come up with a follow-up. To Midway, it didn't seem like a sequel was forthcoming.
Enter the General Computer Corporation (GCC), a group of American programmers who specialised in 'enhancing' pre-existing arcade games. GCC had been working on an upgrade to Pac-Man called Crazy Otto when they were hit with a lawsuit by Atari for releasing an 'enhanced' version of Missile Command.
Ordered never to release any more enhanced games without the written consent of the publisher, GCC decided that before binning Crazy Otto it would at least show it to Midway to see what it thought.
Eager for anything to fill the gap while it waited for Namco to release a Pac-Man sequel, Midway bought the rights to Crazy Otto and changed the sprites to turn it into a proper Pac-Man game. They also changed the main character to a woman in order to appeal to the numerous female gamers who played Pac-Man.
Ms Pac-Man was even more successful than the original in the US, which led to Midway and GCC fighting in court over who should get the lion's share of the royalties. Ultimately neither company won, as an angry Namco stepped forward, essentially said "hang on, Pac-Man is our IP," and took away the Ms Pac-Man rights from both of them.