She doesn't look too bad for an old bird. Suspiciously so, in fact. It's been 25 years since Ms. Pac-Man's first appearance in an arcade game, yet she seems as smooth as ever. We can't stop wondering if she's been at the Botox...
Yes, Ms. Pac-Man is a quarter century old this year, and to celebrate / cash-in, Namco has made this iPod game – another one for Apple's collection of retro and casual titles for its flagship digital player.
Unfortunately, however, Ms. Pac-Man suffers from the same control flaws as iPod Pac-Man, making it not the happiest of anniversaries.
But before we get to that, it's obligatory in any review of a Ms. Pac-Man game to hark back to Wayne's World, and the claim that the only difference between her and Pac-Man is her bow. Which is patently ridiculous: she has eyes and a Cindy Crawford-style mole too!
It's the very same Ms. Pac-Man you'll find on your iPod, with her original visuals, sound effects, and 256 colour visuals of dot-chomping action. In fact, the game features an 'Original' mode that gives you exacting old-skool Ms. Pac-Man in all her glory.
But there are also gameplay differences, including smarter enemies, wandering fruit, four different maze designs, and warp tunnels at the sides of the screen for you to scoot down at will. The gameplay differences are subtle, but if you're a Pac-head, considerable.
Meanwhile, if your retro game skillz aren't quite up to scratch, there's an 'Easy' mode to play, too. You big wuss. There's also a handy tutorial to teach you how to play the game, particularly getting to grips with the controls.
Ah yes. Them. Like Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man relies on you brushing the iPod's scroll wheel to move in four directions. You can't actually press though. And while this works well enough for puzzle games on iPod, for a game like Ms. Pac-Man that requires split-second changes of direction, it's a pain. (That's certainly our best excuse for why we keep dying after missing a turning.)
The game looks good, though. Plus you can record your high scores, and choose to play with your music in the background, as with all iPod games.
Ms. Pac-Man is a more satisfying game than Pac-Man, thanks to the optional changes in the gameplay. It suffers from the same control niggles, but if you're a hardcore Pac-fan, you'll probably put up with these. If you have to choose one of Namco's Pac-Man games, choose this one.
Now Apple fellas, how about commissioning some all-new iPod titles that AREN'T based on 1980s arcade games?