Category Archives: 1981

#94: Ms. Pac-Man

Format: Coin-Op Genre: Maze Released: 1981 Developer: Bally/Midway / General Computer Corporation

In 2005 I waved goodbye to Blighty (UK) and set sail (boarded a plane) for the new world (Vancouver, Canada). There I was going to make my fortune (live there for a year) and wander from town to town righting wrongs (do some travelling). I went with my good friend (actually… hang on, he is a good friend) Andy. Being adventurous we decide to plan as little as possible (left everything to the last-minute and chanced our luck).

When we arrived we had no job, no where to live and only our first night in a hostel booked. Seems crazy to me now but at the time neither of us was particularly worried. That’s the confidence of a 25-year-old. You completely believe it will all work out fine in the end. And it did. We arrived on the 4th, by the 8th we had found work and a place to live.

Home to travellers, wanderers and slightly confused Brits

Unfortunately there’s a peculiar Vancouver by-law (I think) which only allows contracts to start at the end/beginning of the month which means on the last day of the month the streets are full of moving vans and people carrying sofas.

So despite signing our contract we couldn’t move in for another three and a half weeks. With no other option Andy and myself prepared ourselves for 23 days of hostel living. The YHA Vancouver Downtown became our home. 23 days of sharing a room with three other men. 23 days of eating out every night (and drinking pretty much every night). 23 days of getting strange looks in the kitchen at breakfast time as you were in a suit dressed for work.

Still, it could have been worse. The place was clean, relatively quiet and only a couple of weirdos. The main problem was trying to fill time. The books I brought with me I soon finished. The TV room always seemed to be hogged by someone watching… whatever it is they put on Canadian TV (The Rick Mercer Report, Corner Gas and hockey). There’s only so many times you can play ‘Chase the Ace’. So thank God for Ms. Pac-Man.

Similar arcade to the one I used to play. More games should come in table form.

Yes, Ms. Pac-Man. The hostel ‘games room’ had a bashed about but perfectly working Ms. Pac-Man arcade. At first I just played it in a slightly ironic ‘Oh yeah, old game… cool’ kind of way. Plus at only a quarter a play it seemed a cheap way of occupying myself. Within a few days though I was hopelessly addicted. My ultimate aim? To beat the current high score. Why? Because it was there of course, because it was there.

So did I do it dear reader? Well, the photo speaks for itself.

Possibly the happiest moment of my life.

With only a few days left in the hostel I manged to do it. The High Score. 30,470. IN YOUR FACE OTHER HOSTEL PEOPLE! So imagine my disappointment when a few days later a guy turned up to empty the machine of quarters, turned it off and the score was deleted. In many ways this tale is like a modern day Icarus. I had a brief moment in the Sun before I plummeted back to Earth.

I was even more disappointed when, while researching for this post, I found out the highest score ever was 933,580. Abdner Ashman of Queens, N.Y. achieved that in April 2006. That’s about 6 months after my high score. Maybe I inspired him?

A couple of years ago I got Ms. Pac-Man for my phone. Despite no need to find quarters and lots of time to kill on the tube I’ve never beaten 30,470. It remains a personal best. I think I might have 30,470 put on my gravestone.

Before I go, have a look at this. I never realised Ms. Pac-Man had such a lovely voice.

Ian

1 Comment

Filed under 1981, Coin-Op, General Computer Corporation, Maze, Midway