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Games Database
Challenger Series
# 9435K.C. Munchkin!
Game Details
Region: U.S.A.
Publisher: Philips
Year: 1981
Programmer: Ed Averett
Rarity: 1
Review: Available
Average Rating: 4.4 (Out of 5)
Known Box Varieties
Box FrontBox BackCardboard
Known Cart Varieties
Cart Photo Not AvailableAC9435 (Yellow Text)
Cart Photo Not AvailableAC9435 (White Text)
CartPrototype
Screenshots
Screenshot
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Tagline
How many Munchies can your Munchkin munch before your Munchkin's all munched out????? Myriads of different mazes!
More Information
K.C. Munchkin! is possibly the most famous Odyssey² game of them all, but not always for good reasons. Philips released the game to cash in on the Pac-Man craze, but tried to change the gameplay enough to avoid legal action. Atari, who owned the home rights to Pac-Man, did not oblige, and sued Philips for copyright infringement. By the end of the months-long trial, two out of three circuit judges ruled against Philips, ordering that K.C. Munchkin! could no longer be sold after stores cleared out whatever inventory was already on their shelves.¹ K.C. sold quite strongly before the legal challenge, so today copies are easy to find despite the ruling. The verdict of Atari, Inc. v. North American Philips Consumer Electronics Corp., 672 F.2d 607 (7th Cir. 1982), became an important precedent in software copyright law; unfortunately, it cost Odyssey² its best-selling game.

K.C. Munchkin! is reportedly Ed Averett's favorite Odyssey² game. The main character was named after Kenneth C. Meinken, who was president of North American Philips at the time.²

This game is unusual in that there are TWO released versions of it floating around. One version has white copyright text on the cartridge label; the other has yellow copyright text. In the yellow-text version, one of the enemy Munchers is orange. In the more difficult to find white-text version, that Muncher is blue. There are apparently no other differences between the versions, and nobody seems to know why Philips bothered to create two different versions of the game in the first place.

Sources:
1. Phoenix: The Fall and Rise of Videogames by Leonard Herman, pp. 69-70.
2. Digital Press Collector's Guide, edited by Joe Santulli, p. 322.
3. Glitches submitted by Aaron Howald.
Glitches
Both of these seem to happen at higher, faster levels, beyond level 4 or 5.³
  1. Sound cut-out: Get into any spot where you can be safe (not move) for a while. After a few minutes, the "beat" sound will start getting cut out more and more, and eventually the game will go silent! Moving resets this glitch, but it can be done over and over. The technique may work at lower levels, but takes longer.
  2. Dropping pills: Sometimes when K.C. eats a power pill, all remaining pills shift down 1 or 2 pixels. This can happen more than once; sometimes the last pill can go so low that K.C. cannot nab it in a horizontal direction, because it goes below him!
Preproduction
Preproduction Munchkin In 2003, David Winter discovered some prototype versions of K.C. Munchkin!, including two that were apparently in early preproduction stages. They reveal that the game started off looking much more similar to Pac-Man than the version that was ultimately released. In both prototypes, the lead character is not a munchkin, but a roundish gobbler with a big mouth, much like Pac-Man himself. The Munchers look quite similar to Pac-Man's ghosts as well. The earliest prototype features some bare animation but no gameplay, and another one, apparently further along, features a fully playable game with a number of different mazes. David has put together a web page about the prototypes, complete with many screenshots.
Hacks
PacManPacMan: In 2000, Raindog created a graphics hack of K.C. Munchkin! that makes the game resemble the arcade version of Pac-Man, with changed colors and altered sprites. Raindog never completed the hack because the Odyssey² cannot produce the color yellow. You can download the hack here.
Beast MunchkinBeast Munchkin: A graphics hack by Ken "Grimlick" Scott that changes K.C. and the Munchers into insectoid characters from the animated series Transformers: Beast Wars You can download the hack here (click on the Odyssey2 link under "My Hacks").
Equivalent Games
TitleRegionPublisherNumberRarity
»K.C. Munchkin!U.S.A.Philips94351
Glouton et VoracesEuropeRadiola385
MunchkinEuropePhilips382
MunchkinEuropeSiera387
Come-Come IIBrazilPhilips06 AV 94352
K.C. Broyefer!CanadaMagnavoxAC94355