Let's Take A Look At Ms. Pac-Man by Milton Bradley

How Do You Make A Board Game Out Of An Arcade Classic?

Article by Jonathan Imberi

From the front of the box:
As much fun as the action-packed arcade game. Be the first player to gobble up all the dots in your color area of the maze. Ages 7-14, for 2 to 4 players.

From the back of the box:
Hi! I’m Ms. Pac-Man…. The star of the most exciting maze game around. Inky, Blinky and Pinky are in it too, and there’s even a new ghost called Sue. We chase each other through a special maze that’s divided into four different colored areas with lots of walls to maneuver around, four handy exits to help me make my getaway from those pesky ghosts and plenty of delicious dots for me to munch on. It’s great fun and you’re invited to play. Just choose one of the four available colors. Move your color ghost around the maze by die roll. If your ghost can catch me, you get the chance to control me and munch a bunch of dots. All you have to do is gobble up all those silly dots in your color area of the maze (with my help) and you’ll win the game. So good luck, have fun and catch me if you can (I dare you)!

Contents of the game:
· 1 Plastic Ms. Pac-Man Spinner
· 4 Plastic Ghost Pawns
· 1 Special Die
· 68 Plastic Dots
· 1 Gameboard
· 1 Label Sheet
· 1 Instruction Booklet

Rules of the game:
Click to view the Instruction Booklet (in PDF format)

Review: After getting the board game assembled it is easy to see that unlike the Pac-Man board game there are only a few noticeable elements from the arcade classic of the same name. The traditional maze is gone in favor of a more four square approach allowing for four player game play. The yellow and white marbles that made the Pac-Man version come to life are also missing in favor of a bingo style method of pellet decor.

Ms. Pac-Man is present looking stunning as usual although in a very 2D kind of way. They chose to mold the Ms. Pac-Man piece in classic Pac-Man yellow, but with the inclusion of a spinner. The piece actually doubles as the spinning device used to move the piece. Unique? Maybe, but I already miss the chomping action. There is only one Ms. Pac-Man piece as the other players will play as the pesky ghosts.

There are four ghost pieces included with the game also molded in yellow. The ghosts are two sided and have colored decals that coordinate with the four squares on the board game: red, blue, green and purple. Each side has its own decal depicting either a strong or weak side to the ghost. This is an element from the game which was nice to see transformed into a playable boardgame format.

Game play really does not follow the arcade game because of how the board is laid out. However, the use of only one Ms. Pac-Man on the board is much more realistic and still allows for alternate play. Players take turns spinning Ms. Pac-Man’s spinner to see who plays as Ms. Pac-Man first. The player playing as Ms. Pac-Man uses the built in spinner to move the piece. The other players will roll the die to move their ghost. Movement on the board has the same rules as the arcade in that you cannot cross a divider line and cannot leave the board, with the exception of the exits. The object of the game is to collect as many pellets as possible from your colored quadrant of the board. If a Ms. Pac-Man encounters a ghost, the player who was controlling the attacking ghost now controls Ms. Pac-Man. There is one exception to this: if the ghost player had rolled a F2 (replaces 1 on the six sided die) he must turn over his weak side and if encountered in that state by Ms. Pac-Man he must return home. There also four Power Squares on the board which also have the yellow bingo chips. Ms. Pac-Man can collect one of these chips to turn all of the ghosts to their weak side and they will remain that way for one more turn.

Although I think Milton Bradley may have missed the mark on capturing the thrill of the arcade game, I will admit that making the game too similar to their Pac-Man board game would also have been a mistake. That being said, I think they did a good job creating a completely different game with the familiar faces of the arcade classic. The game does have replay potential, but sadly not the same nostalgic appeal their Pac-Man title created.

Nothing’s more fun than playing with Ms. Pac-Man! Wocka! Wocka!