On the scale of things mattering right now, the status of Ms. Pac-Man ranks somewhere between “are sandwiches hot dogs?” and “hey, who did let the dogs out?”. There are far more pressing concerns in our world. For example: Literally everything. But even as we burn to death or drown depending on where we take our summer vacation, everyone needs to come together to take a moment to acknowledge how absolutely fucking funny it is that Namco has sent Ms. Pac-Man into the memory hole because they don’t own rights to her.
If you don’t know the reason Namco doesn’t own the rights to Ms. Pac-Man, let me explain it in a way that’s surely wrong: Midway got the rights to distribute Pac-Man products and they, along with some other nerds, created Ms. Pac-Man and her game. And thus started a legal rollercoaster in which Namco had to fork over cash whenever they used Pac-Man’s (wife? girlfriend? flowers in the attic situation?). It’s that stupid.
The rights to Ms. Pac-Man are pretty messy, which is itself funny because she’s just Pac-Man but dressed like a lady who wears a bow, boots, gloves, and absolutely no clothing. The Pac people are nude and lack an anus. Everything goes in and out of their mouths. Everything.
Fortunately, Namco found a clever way around this: Turning Ms. Pac-Man into Shelly Miscavige and replacing her with Pac-Mom. What’s wild is, they also changed the names of characters like Pac Jr. to Pac-Boy, further tearing the Pac-Man family apart. It’s so stupid and it’s so funny. Oh, and depending on where you read up on it, Pac-Mom seems to either be Pac-Man’s mom or Ms. Pac-Man’s unofficial mom. Or Pac-Man’s new side piece?
A passive-aggressive battle over Ms. Pac-Man has made it seem like Pac-Man is a dude at a bar who takes off his wedding ring before talking to the person on the stool next to him. He just dropped that lady. He won’t even call Pac-Boy on the phone ever since he sided with Ms. Pac-Man in the divorce. As Pac-Boy walked out the door, Pac-Man held aloft a giant pixel strawberry and said, “I have no Pac Jr.!”
What I love about this stupid rights issue is that… it’s Ms. Pac-Man. It’s so, so stupid that Namco just left Ms. Pac-Man out of Pac-Man Museum+, a game that is centered around being – and you won’t believe it – a museum for Pac-Man. I understand the reason why they did! If Namco doesn’t own the rights, they have to pay to use her. I absolutely understand that position.
But it’s also fucking ridiculous to consider. It’s not really ‘bad’ in any way. Don’t get me wrong. Ms. Pac-Man is still a game you can buy and enjoy as it was meant to be. It’s not a Sonic 3 situation in which Sega would put a bullet in the back of that game’s head if it ever could. It’s still around.
Yet… they still recast Ms. Pac-Man. They didn’t change her design. They didn’t send her on an adventure in some way to keep her out of the picture. They made Pac-Man dump her and start hanging out with a cougar who may or may not be his mom. And, honestly, I don’t know which is funnier!
If it’s his mom, Pac-Man, baby, what are you doing? Was the divorce that bad? Did she leave in the break-up? Was it your pill problem? And if Pac-Mom is a new, older romantic partner, good for you, Pac-Man. Age ain’t nothing but a number. You gotta live the life you want and love the people you love.
But for the love of God, Pac-Man, call your son.
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