The idea of Ms. Pac-Man did not come from Namco, but from hackers. The first version of Ms. Pac-Man was created in 1981 by a handful of programmers at General Computer Corporation. The programmers took a Pac-Man cabinet and modified it, calling it Crazy Otto.
The programmers showed it to Midway who were both surprised at the quality of Crazy Otto and were getting upset over the long wait between the original Pac-Man and its sequel. Midway bought the rights for Crazy Otto and added the Pac-Man sprites and iconic name Ms. Pac-Man to the previously bootlegged game.
Namco quickly took note of Ms. Pac-Man's swiftly growing popularity. Midway had not received consent from Namco to publish the game and a legal battle was about to erupt. Fearing a case would be brought against them, Midway and GCC turned over the rights for Ms. Pac-Man to Namco. Afterward, Namco created numerous ports for the home consoles while benefiting from the widely popular arcade game that was quickly becoming a cultural phenomenon in its own right.
Ms. Pac-Man's gameplay does not stray much from Pac-Man's simple mechanics of eating pellets, numerous types of fruit, and power pellets to eat ghosts. However there are a few major changes that would change the gameplay experience between both games.
- The first such change is that the three intermissions in the game are changed to tell the story of Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man's relationship from dating all the way to a stork dropping off their baby.
- The second change is a minor one; the changing of the orange ghost's name from Clyde to Sue.
- The ghosts now have movements that are semi-random. Because of this, many players have learned to use a set of moves to avoid the ghosts.
- The fruit no longer appears and stays in the center of the maze. It instead enters from one tunnel of the maze, travels around, and leaves through the other tunnel if not eaten by the player.
- The fruit order is now cherries, strawberry, orange, pear, apple, pretzel, and banana. The score for each is also 100, 200, 500, 700, 1000, 2000, and 5000 respectively.
- The final change is that there are six different mazes. With each of the mazes there are four different colors or styles. Each maze also now has two warp tunnels that will transport the player to the opposite side of the maze.
- The walls are now filled in (Pac-Man had hollow walls).