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Urban Exploration find: Ms. Pac-Man upright cab - bootleg, or official release?

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Back in 2015, I was granted permission to access the property of an old mini-golf fun center that had been sitting abandoned for nearly three years at that point in time. The fun center had operated from 1992 - 2012, when the owners defaulted on taxes and the place shut down for good. For my photography class final I decided to do an urban exploration piece, and I was EXTREMELY lucky to walk into the vacant relic of one of my favorite childhood places. Upon walking in, I was shocked to see that there were three games left, pushed into a corner of the game room. One of which was a Ms. Pac-Man machine, which I played time and again whenever I visited.

However, I always wondered why it looked so...different. 

The cabinet, for one, is MASSIVE. The screen, from what I can recall, was far bigger than the arcade original, though it was still a vertical upright monitor. This game also possessed the speed chip, which if my memory is correct, was not added until sometime between my childhood and teenage years. I recall the game running at normal speed when I was a kid, though I could be wrong.

But the cabinet itself has always intrigued me. Despite having "MIDWAY" plastered across the top above the screen, I wondered if this cabinet was actually a super-rare bootleg of sorts. I do know the control panel art is original Pac-Man art from a company called Willis (see below)


So I have several theories on what this actual machine might be:

1. A official re-release by Midway in the 1990s, using leftover cabinets from other games they produced in an effort to liquidate unsold boards.
2. The cabinet itself is one where the owners can easily switch out arcade boards to classic games they have lying around, just to swap out a game from time to time and keeps their inventory fresh-ish, possibly made by Midway in the 90s.

3. The entire thing, board included, IS a bootleg game, though this wouldn't make much sense as the company that made it would have certainly been sued by Midway for using their logo in stickers.


Does anyone else have any ideas? I'd love to hear them, and if anyone else has seen something like this out in the wild before. Before I left, I stuck a note with my contact information to whoever purchased the property in order to buy the game from them if they choose to sell it.










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I think it may be a combination of the second and third. It looks to me like a generic Jamma cab that someone's put a Ms. Pac-Man board into, said board may or may not be official.


An official Midway re-release in the 1990s would most likely be impossible, as they lost the rights to anything Pac-Man related in late 1984, and a full bootleg cab is unlikely too, as Ms. Pac-Man wasn't exactly the newest game around when this cab appears to have been made, so there'd be no real incentive to bootleg it.  Plus, if someone were to make a bootleg, they, as you mentioned, would remove Midway's name from anything they could find, rather than adding to them. 


That's what I think it most likely is, but, in the end, who knows?



Edited by Jumpman1981
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Your possibility #2 is most accurate. I can tell you with certainty that's not a release cabinet, either Midway or bootleg :)


Namco cut ties with Midway in '84, so Midway couldn't produce any more Pac-Man series games even if they wanted to. That marquee art looks like it came off an original cabaret/mini style cabinet, with the top and bottom bends shaved off and sandwiched into the generic marquee area, which definitely doesn't make sense for an actual release. Willis was a company that made 3rd party replacement art with alternate designs to avoid copyright issues, so that wouldn't make sense either :)


I don't believe that cabinet was manufactured by Midway, but indeed it's probably a generic that operators could plug whatever JAMMA game boards they had into. (JAMMA is the wiring standard for most post-1985 games).


I'm curious what board/wiring are inside it. Ms. Pac original boards don't have the JAMMA pinout, but some later bootlegs do.


Edit: Dang it! Totally missed the guy above said exactly what I did.

Edited by JrPac
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It's a complete hackjob. Willis made aftermarket overlays for cabinets back in the day for an alternate art setup - I got a Willis NOS sticker for my SI cab, and they're really cool. Willis was around in the 80s and a lot of operators would buy their stuff when their CPOs got beat up since it was cheaper than a replacement and the different art attracted people.


That cab looks like some form of a Neo Geo cab and the operator has just slapped other art on it. I'd imagine it's complete bootleg with absolutely nothing to do with original stuff - just a cobbled together hackjob from a variety of parts. The joystick appears to be typical of Neo Geo cabs as well, and that red looks original, though the shape is a bit different from some Neo Geo cabs. Nonetheless, given Neo Geo cabs were generic and made in large quantities, they make good candidates for throwing something in there.


My guess would be an authentic Ms. Pac board in a cobbled together fully hackjob cabinet.

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