Get your retro fix with Ms. Pac-Man

First impressions 

With the “Pixels” film being released internationally this weekend, it seems only fitting for me to look at an app related to a game from yesteryear. I’m sure I’m repeating myself when I say I was amazing at playing Pac-Man and Donkey Kong back in the day; and don’t get me started on Asteroids! 

Graphics and design have come a looooong way since those days of pixilated characters, and the Halos of this world have taken over. Just in case you’re wondering what the movie is all about, allow me to fill you in: aliens misinterpret video feeds of classic games as a declaration of war, and head to Earth to attack us in the form of those games. 

Although the trailer is already getting dubious reviews, I’m sure that those of us from that era (I’ll just make us sound like we’re dinosaurs) will find it difficult to resist going to see the film. Come on, Adam Sandler – give us a good one, I beg of you! 

Anyhoo, as I mentioned before, I went scouring the App Store for some of the oldies but goodies, and although it didn’t have my beloved Donkey Kong, it DID have Q*bert and Ms. Pac-Man. I could never seem to get the hang of Q*bert, and always had him swearing all over the board. Maybe I’d give him another try. 

I first downloaded him as a free app, but to my horror, instead of the usual ads for other games that tend to pop up on the screen when you’ve got a freebie, instead I got a full 30-second video for some other game. I played two levels of Q*bert, and was much better than I remembered, but then another ad came up like the one before. “@!#[email protected]!” as Q*bert would say; I’d had enough. 

I immediately dumped that app, and turned to Ms. Pac-Man for guidance. 

How it works 

A rather ironic note here is that the younger generation will probably be the ones who need to have Ms. Pac-Man explained to them. You download the free app (Ms. Pac-Man LITE), and you can start the game or buy the full version. 

Choose to start, and suddenly that familiar screen will be in front of you: four ghosts (Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Sue) in a wee holding pen, with Ms. Pac-Man – a yellow circle with a mouth and a bow on her head – sitting underneath. The countdown begins, and she’s off! 

You use your finger to swipe in the direction you want her to go, and basically you want her to “eat” all the white dashes in her path without being caught by the ghosts. If they’re getting too close for comfort, she can head to one of the four large white dots in the corners of the game area (Power Pellets) which will turn the ghosts blue with fear for a short period of time, and the hunted becomes the hunter. 

The more ghosts Ms. Pac-Man catches and chomps before their fear wears off, the more points you’ll accumulate; plus you’ll send their eyes back to the holding pen so they can regenerate, giving you a nice buffer. 

Don’t forget to take advantage of the exit/entrance on the left- and right-hand sides of the screen. You can take Ms. Pac-Man out the left side, and she’ll magically appear on the right side, hopefully evading the ghosts. 

As the levels go higher, you’ll see random fruit making its way through the maze. Get the fruit whenever you can, as again, your score will increase. 

When I played it 

It really was nostalgic, playing Ms. Pac-Man on my iPad. There was the familiar music; there was the chomping sound I remembered from my youth; there was the miserable noise when Ms. Pac-Man got annihilated by a ghost. Ah, yes … the memories all came flooding back. 

Had I really been that good at this game? I was downright panicking, trying to get away from those ethereal entities while desperately chomping away. Perhaps my skills had waned over the years, and therefore perhaps I needed to spend all my free time with this app to get back to tournament level. 

I may have considered it, if an ad had not popped up for some other app again, and again, and again. I’m sure that the full version erases all of those annoying interruptions, but at $5.99 I’m just not sure that my love affair with Ms. Pac-Man is worth it. 

Final thoughts 

If you’re interested in revisiting the glory days of classic computer games, by all means download Ms. Pac-Man LITE to see if you want to fork out for the full version. It now boasts the addition of MFi controller support and the game itself runs pretty smoothly. 

On the other hand, if you’re not up for the challenge, just head to Regal Camana Bay this Friday and watch your favorite characters invade the world. It’s probably worth it just to see Peter Dinklage sporting a mullet. What would the Lannisters have to say about that? 


All the sights and sounds of the original. Smooth gameplay. 


LITE version features lots of ads. Full version is $5.99 – ouch! 

  • Ms. Pac-Man LITE

  • Cost: Free (Full version is $5.99)
Seller: BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment America Inc.
Devices: Android and iOS
Rating: E for everyone 

Just look for this alluring creature in the App Store.


Incredible wit, coupled with cutting edge graphics.


Avoid the ghosts and chomp through the pellets.


Do you remember this screen? And yes, those are cherries on the right.