Why did Ms. Pac-Man’s look change for Arcade Archives: Pac-Land?

Quick, what does Ms. Pac-Man look like? You have certainly imagined the red bow, perhaps also the go-go boots. Well, this version of Ms. Pac-Man, who regularly disappears thanks to a Byzantine dispute involving Bandai Namco and AtGames, has been changed into a new version of Pac Land launching today – and likely in next month’s release of Pac-Man Museum Morea retro compilation that also houses Pac Land.

Graphic designer Nicholas Caballero, from Paraguay, noted on Twitter on Wednesday as the anthropomorphic Ms. Pac-Man appearing in 1984 Pac Land is more like what Bandai Namco calls Pac-Mom: she wears a pink hat, gloves, and heels instead of a red bow, orange gloves, and red boots. Baby Pac has had his palette changed, for good measure, replacing his bow with a flower and removing his pacifier.

So what gives? Well, come back with us to 2019, when Bandai Namco sued AtGames, the makers of mini-consoles and arcade cabinets, whose work on a 2016 Genesis/Mega Drive for Sega didn’t win them any friends. . Among other things, Bandai Namco alleged that AtGames interfered in the publisher’s negotiations with the original creators of Ms. Pac-Man – a group of seven classmates from MIT calling themselves General Computer Corporation – to buy out their rights. of royalty.

Lo and behold, AtGames itself ended up buying this royalty interest, which means that in the future, if Bandai Namco released anything with Ms. Pac-Man (or Baby Pac), it would owe AtGames residuals, the people they were now pursuing. (Note: these fees must be paid each time the work is used; Bandai Namco still has full ownership and control of Ms. Pac-Man as intellectual property, and may unilaterally manufacture any product including it .)

Bandai Namco alleged other unauthorized uses of its intellectual property; AtGames said Bandai Namco was punishing it for a private deal with rights holders who weren’t happy Bandai Namco wasn’t doing anything with Ms. Pac-Man. The lawsuit was settled in November 2020, but AtGames still owns the royalty rights to Ms. Pac-Man.

Thus, during the Arcade Archives reissue of Pac Land appeared on the Nintendo eShop today, Pac-Mom had stepped into the role.

The Pac-Man Museum Plus arcade, with

The Pac-Man Museum Plus arcade, featuring “Pac-Mom” as a collectible figure.
Picture: Bandai Namco

Pac-Mom also seems to be the version that Pac-Man Museum More, launched in late May, will use. This anthology includes 14 games from the Pac-Man franchise, dating back to the 1980 original – but 1981 Mrs. Pac-Man is, you guessed it, not included. (Pac-Mom and the revised Baby Pac will apparently be collectible figures that can be earned to decorate their in-game arcade, as noted in Pac-Man Museum More‘ trailer.)

There was no console re-release of Mrs. Pac-Man since the predecessor of this collection, 2014 Pac-Man Museumfor PlayStation 3, Windows PC and Xbox 360. This was two years after Bandai Namco turned down AtGames’ pitch to make a Mrs. Pac-Man mini-cabinet, which was related to allegations made in the 2019 lawsuit.

Speculation is that the publisher doesn’t want to do anything for which it owes royalties, and Ms. Pac’s lack of proceeds is circumstantial evidence of this. Steve Golson, one of the original designers, did an hour-long autopsy on Mrs. Pac-Man at the 2016 Game Developers Conference, where he discussed the tangled royalty agreement the two parties reached.

Polygon has reached out to representatives from Bandai Namco Entertainment America and original GCC creators for additional comment.