Beat It! Ms. Pac-Man 
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.
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:
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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 -- firstname.lastname@example.org]
AtariAge - Beat It! 2600 Ms. Pacman