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Issue Date: Vol. 40, No. 12 / October 25, 2000 - November 24, 2000, Posted On: 10/25/2000

Namco Celebrates The Class Of 1981; 'Ms. Pac-Man' And 'Galaga' Return

Marcus Webb

SAN JOSE, CA - The class of 1981, together with Namco America, is staging a reunion of two of the most successful video games of all time , "Ms. Pac-Man," and "Galaga." For the first time, both of the classics are available in one dedicated cabinet.

The retro-style cabinet is a replica of the original "Galaga" and "Ms. Pac-Man" cabinets, with a few notable exceptions. A 25-in. monitor replaces the original 19-in. monitor while a modern over/under coin door with quarter, dollar coin and dollar bill acceptance enables operators to use pricing schemes that were unavailable for the original models.

In addition, the exterior of the cabinet appears as a combination of the original games. "Ms. Pac-Man" side panel graphics adorn one side, "Galaga" graphics the other. The cabinet front, marquee, CPO and instructions include a mix of the two classics.

Although the game play is identical to the original versions, Namco has added a number of options with operators in mind. Selectable options include regular or speedy "Ms. Pac-Man," and original or rapid fire "Galaga." Another feature not available 20 years ago is a selectable player buy-in continuation mode. And rumor has it that the original "Pac-Man" is hidden in the game as well.

Why bring back these hits from the past? According to Namco, feedback from operators over the past few years was a significant factor. Many have said that the games continue to perform well, but that the hardware is generally in bad shape, with burned-in monitors, delapidated cabinets and boards that can no longer be serviced.

After researching the problem, Namco found that many of the components were a great deal more expensive today than they were 20 years ago. Due to efforts to lower their cost, however, the company says it is able to offer the game at virtually the same price it was available at in 1981.

To maintain the integrity of the original cabinets, Namco has partnered with many of the same support companies that helped build the originals, including Grand Products. Dave Marofske, president of Grand Products, was in charge of the Midway team that built and sold the U.S. "Ms. Pac-Man" and "Galaga" games in the early 1980s. Now, 20 years later, his Grand team (many of whom were at Midway at the time), has been contracted to build the 2000 version.

"It has really been a pleasure working with the Grand team on this project," said Namco's Frank Cosentino. "You can really tell the emotional attachment that many of these guys have to the originals. So many of them were involved 20 years ago and are excited to be part of the new release."

The upright, Cosentino added, will be available in November, while the cocktail version is slated for a December rollout. Namco's sales office is located at at 877 Supreme Drive, Bensonville, IL 60106; tel. (630) 238-2248; fax. (630) 238-9333.

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