Tuesday, May 11, 2021

This is why Ms. Pac-Man almost never happened

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Back in the late ’70s, a group of MIT students started dabbling in the arcade business as a side project. Eventually, this involved creating an ultimately profitable enhancement kit for Atari’s Missile Command game, so they left MIT and started their own company, General Computer Company (GCC), to keep doing the work. And they decided to create their next enhancement kit for Pac-Man. They were careful not to infringe upon Atari’s copyrights with the game Crazy Otto, but that didn’t stop Atari from trying to sue GCC, who learned about Atari’s planned tactic and sued first.

GCC turned out to be too savvy for Atari, so Atari offered GCC a development contract instead. Under that deal, the former students could sell enhancement kits with the manufacturers’ permission, so GCC next went to Midway. President Dave Marofske found it refreshing to be dealing with people asking permission to produce Pac-Man merch and decided to see what the group was working on. Midway was looking for the next new thing, and that thing was Crazy Otto, which GCC then turned into a full-fledged Pac-Man sequel, with Namco’s knowledge and help.

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