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Beat It! Ms. Pac-Man [2600]
by Robert Guerra
[Appeared in the October/November 1983 issue of "Video Games Player"]
        
        Atari's VCS version of Ms. Pac-Man includes nearly all the elements 
that made its coin-op counterpart the most successful sequel game to date.
Everything from the catchy opening theme to bouncing fruit and pretzels is 
intact. But game-play is the main attraction.
c        Instead of one maze to chomp your way through, there are four. Each 
has its own tunnel locations and dangerous passages where inexperienced 
gobblers can easily become surrounded and trapped. Six types of fruit and a 
pretzel randomly appear throughnut the game and are worth up to 5000 bonus 
points. Inky, Pinky, Blinky and Sue are all here, each distinguished by color 
as well as speed.                 
        After clearing a maze completely of dots, you get a new maze to clear.
Mazes one-four must be cleared twice each before moving on to the next maze. 
Following the fourth maze, you will alternate between mazes three and four 
for the rest of the game.

SCORING

        Each maze contains about 150 dots that are worth 10 points apiece. 
There are also four energy pills in every maze, worth 50 points each. 
        The first ghost Ms. Pac-Man consumes after eating an energy pill is 
worth 200 points, 400 for the second, 800 for the third and 1600 for the 
fourth. All four ghosts must be gobbled on a single energy pill to win the 
total 3000 points.
        Bonus points for eating fruit and pretzels are awarded as follows:
CHERRY....................100   APPLE....................1000
ORANGE....................500   PEAR.....................2000
PRETZEL...................700   BANANA.............,.....5000

MAZE ONE 
  
        Because the wall sections are relatively short in the first maze, it 
is difficult to become trapped in one section if you keep moving. The two 
escape tunnels (located about halfway up the left and right sides of the 
maze) also help Ms. Pac-Man avoid dangerous situations by allowing her to 
exit at one side of the screen, and reappear at the other.
        When play first begins, do nothing. Ms. Pac-Man will automatically 
move to the left. As this happens, watch the red ghost (fastest of the four) 
that begins the game already out of the central reincarnation box. If he goes 
right, begin clearing out the bottom left corner of the maze, but leave the 
energy pill until it's really needed.
        Gradually work your way over to the right side, using any pattern that 
clears a lot of the center in a continuous chomping of dots. Always be 
prepared to escape up through the center of the maze if the ghosts close in. 
If the red ghost begins by moving left, head right via a quicker, more direct 
route.
        Try to keep track of how many dots you've eaten. When this number 
approaches 50, head directly for one of the escape tunnels on the right side 
of the maze. Upon eating your 50th dot, your first fruit--cherries--will enter
the screen through one of the escape tunnels. If it enters at the right, 
you'll be in great position to pounce on it. If it enters at the left, simply 
wrap through the nearest tunnel and do the same. Don't worry if you don't eat 
the cherries right away. They will bounce around the screen for up to 25 
seconds before exiting through another eseape tunnel.
        Now that you've cleared out most of the lower half of the screen, eat 
the first energy pill. Carefully work your way up to one of the energy pills 
at the top of the screen and wait beside it until one or more of the ghosts 
are very close. When you eat the pill, you get eight seconds to chase and eat 
the ghosts.
        After turning blue, the ghosts frequently head for the corners. As 
you chase them, becareful not to inadvertently run over a second energy pill. 
This will begin the cycle an over again and you will Iose the bonus you would 
have received for eating all four ghosts on the first pill. Avoid chasing any 
ghosts past the top of the reincarnation box once you've already eaten one or 
two. They may try to reenter the game as you're passing directly above, and 
you will lose a game life.
        A second pair of cherries appears after the 100th dot has been eaten. 
When it does, eat a second energy dot (provided there is at least one ghost 
very close by). They try to get all four ghosts and the cherries before the 
effects of the energy pill wear off, or the cherries disappear.
        Be sure, as you're finishing off the rest of this screen, to save at 
]east one dot until after you've eaten your fourth energy pill and the ghosts 
it entitles you to. When this screen is completed, it will be repeated (this 
time with strawberries). But the ghosts will be quicker and you'll have to be 
even more careful to avoid getting caught without a means of escape. Otherwise,
the basic strategies should work just fine.

MAZE TWO

        Although there are four fewer dots to eat in this maze, it's harder 
to clear for three reasons: ghosts move quicker; their vulnerability, after 
an energy pill is consumed, lasts only six seconds; and the escape tunnels at 
the bottom left and right of the screen are often used by ghosts to take Ms. 
Pac-Man by surprise as she waits by one of the lower energy pills.
        When play begins, move to the left and then down to clear the lower 
central portion of the maze. Then quickly race for a mare open area before 
getting trapped. Work the sides of the maze, passing back and forth through 
the second escape tunnel until the first fruit appears. (Always glance at the 
opposite side of the screen before going through a tunnel, to avoid running 
into a ghost upon your arrival on the other side.)
        When possible, clear the long top row of dots while luring as many 
ghosts as you can toward one of the waiting energy pills. As you chase the 
ghosts, try to clear at least a portion of the confined central section of 
dots directly below the top row. Although the energy pills don't last as 
long, never give up the chase until the ghosts have blinked twice. 

MAZE THREE          
  
        If you make it through the second maze twice and still have a Ms. 
Pac-Man or two to spare, you should do well on maze three if you focus all 
your attention on methodically clraring the maze of dots. Since energy pills 
will now only effect the ghosts for four seconds, don't waste time, after 
eating a pill, by chasing ghosts over areas that have already been cleared.
Instead, concentrate on eating all the dots near each energy pill, thus 
clearing close to one quarter of the screen at a time with each energy pill 
that you eat.
        Try to clear the central portion of the screen a little at a time
(in short passes) as you move from one energy pill area to the next. Eat all 
the apples and pears you can, since getting all four fruits on these screens 
increases your score by 6000 points.
        While you could easily shake a pursuing ghost in the earlier rounds 
by taking a lot of quick corners, this tactic no longer works very well. The 
fastest, most persistent of the four ghosts is the red one, so take every 
precaution to avoid a hot chase by this character. If there is a ghost on 
your tail, head for the nearest energy pill. If none is available, an escape 
tunnel (there is only one in this maze) may do the trick.
        If you make it this far, congratulations! Your main concern should be 
surviving long enough to reap the 10,000 bonus points accompanying those two 
bouncing bananas. Energy pills now last only between one-and-a-half and two 
seconds, so you won't be gobbling up many more ghosts.
        There is, however, one surc way to gulp down at least one ghost for 
each energy pill consumed. Rather than waiting beside an energy pill until a 
ghost is dangerously close and then eating the pill, reversing direction, and 
giving chase, you should follow a ghost as closely as possible when he runs 
over the pill. This way you get to continue in one direction as the ghost 
reverses and heads straight into Ms. Pac-Man's waiting jaws.
        
MAZE FOUR

        The fourth maze is fairly open and easy to maneuver around with just 
a few exceptions. The escape tunnels, though located similarly to those in 
maze one, are shielded by a T-shaped barrier on each side of the maze. So it 
takes a few more turns to enter or leave the maze. At the top center of the 
maze there is a small niche containing six dots. Since there are only two 
points of access to this area, it is easy to get trapped by two ghosts 
entering simultaneously at both ends while you're in the middle. Therefore, 
be extremely careful while clearing this section of dots.
  
        That should give you all the information you need to know to do a
job on Ms. Pac-Man and amaze your friends. You will notice, by the way, that 
with this and other home games, the better you are at the game, the better 
you will probably do in the arcade version of the game. Ms. Pac-Man the 
arcade game is quite similar to Ms. Pac-Man the Atari VCS cartridge. "How To
Play Forever" (see page 42) will give you another tip for Ms. Pac-Man--if you 
can complete the 137th board of the arcade game, the board will turn upside 
down. But the dots will all be in the right place. When you clear the board, 
there is a 75% chance you will receive 64 free games. 
        Keep an eye out for the 5200 version of Ms. Pac-Man.

M I N I M U M   S C O R E   P O T E N T I A L : 50,000

[Scanned and edited by Dennis Brown -- brownd@ns2.apmtech.com]

AtariAge - Beat It! 2600 Ms. Pacman