Image: Mrs. Pac Man/Galaga (Class of '81),  Pinball, Video Games, Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, Hopewell Township, Hall of Fame,   Museum

In 2001, Namco released an arcade board featuring both Ms. Pac-Man and Galaga in honor of the 20th anniversary of both games with the subtitle “20 Year Reunion / Class of 1981“. It also features Pac-Man as a hidden bonus game. The later 25th Anniversary Edition allows all three games to be selected at the main menu.

Ms. Pac-Man is an arcade video game from the Golden Age. It was produced by Illinois-based Midway Manufacturing corporation, the North American publisher of Pac-Man. Ms. Pac-Man was released in North America in January 1982, and is arguably the most popular arcade video game of all time. This popularity led to its adoption as an official title by Namco, the creator of Pac-Man, which was released in the United States in late 1980. Ms Pac-Man introduced a female protagonist, new maze designs, and several other improved gameplay changes over the original Pac-Man. Ms Pac-Man became the most successful American-produced arcade game, selling 115,000 arcade cabinets.

Ms. Pac-Man was originally conceived as an enhancement kit for Pac-Man called Crazy Otto, created by programmers employed at the General Computer Corporation (GCC). While Crazy Otto was under development, GCC settled a lawsuit with Atari over their Missile Command conversion kit Super Missile Attack. Part of the settlement terms barred GCC from selling future conversion kits without consent from the original game manufacturer.

Rather than scrapping Crazy Otto entirely, the programmers decided to show it to Midway, Namco’s American distributor of Pac-Man. Midway had become impatient in waiting for Namco to release its next Pac-Man game (which would be Super Pac-Man), and were enthusiastic that such a game had come to their attention. They bought the rights to Crazy Otto, changed the sprites to fit the Pac-Man universe, renamed the game Ms. Pac-Man, and released it into arcades.

Shortly before release, Stan Jarocki of Midway stated that Ms. Pac-Man was conceived in response to the original Pac-Man being “the first commercial videogame to involve large numbers of women as players” and that it is “our way of thanking all those lady arcaders who have played and enjoyed Pac-Man.” The game was later awarded the Certificate of Merit as runner-up for Coin-Op Game of the Year at the 1982 Arcade Awards held in January 1983.

The game went through several name changes. The original name was going to be Pac-Woman. That name was eventually dropped and then Miss Pac-Man was chosen, but because of the family imagery in the third intermission, protests were feared about the Pac-couple having a Pac-baby out of wedlock. The name was changed to Mrs. Pac-Man, and then finally to Ms. Pac-Man, which rolled off the tongue easier. These later changes (Miss, Mrs., and Ms.) all occurred within 72 hours of actual production.

Galaga is a fixed shooter arcade game developed and published by Namco in Japan and published by Midway in North America in 1981. It is the sequel to Galaxian, released in 1979. The gameplay of Galaga puts the player in control of a spacecraft which is situated at the bottom of the screen. At the beginning of each stage, the area is empty, but over time, enemy aliens will arrive in formation, and once all of the enemies arrive on screen, they will come down at the player’s ship in formations of one or more and may either shoot it or collide with it. During the entire stage, the player may fire upon the enemies, and once all enemies are vanquished, the player will proceed to the next stage.