A short time ago we ran a piece of news that Mario Kart Arcade 3 would be making its way to the market sometime this year. If anyone felt that was a rumor, it can now be laid to rest as Bandai Namco has formally unveiled the next installment of the Mario Kart series in arcades, now called Mario Kart Arcade Grand Prix DX which is scheduled to be released this Summer in Japan and I imagine soon afterwards to the rest of the world as the first two Mario Kart arcade titles were.
Here is the cabinet design which is similar to what Namco is using for Wangan MaxiTune 4, albeit a bit more colorful. The game supports up to four linked units and they are keeping the NamCam feature for the avatars as the previous games and various other Namco arcade titles have used. There seems to be an indication that the camera will work to capture players reactions during the race to but it’s hard to tell from the translation.
The document describing the game, released to Japanese media lays out the four game modes that can be found: Grand Prix, Battle Mode, “Alter Ego” Battle mode, and Team Co-Op mode. The latter two are new to the arcade series; the translation is clunky on what the Alter Ego mode is exactly but from the sounds of it, it is an online mode where other players can race against your recorded ghost player when you are not on the machine. The game will certainly have network play to some degree, something Namco has been getting into lately with Tekken Tag 2 and WMMT4.
On the Team play mode, you play as a team against two CPU controlled players for points. One thing about this that I’m not aware of existing in other Mario Kart versions (a commenter points out that this is similar although not exactly like what could be done in Mario Kart Double Dash)is that the team members can combine their karts into one and then one player will control driving while the other controls the attack capabilities, a sort of “pilot & gunner” configuration like in old space games. There is also some sort of shield function the team can use to ward off enemy attacks. Here is a picture of a combined kart:
As far as content goes, they are promising “10 redesigned courses”, over 100 items to use and regular online updates. Namco is also adding one of their own characters to the mix, Don-Chan from their drumming game Taiko No Tatsujin (which is getting a new version released next month in Japan). Also one of the new race courses is from the Taiko No Tatsujin world. Also to be found in this version – flying karts.
Overall it looks like Namco is putting a lot into this version of Mario Kart but we will have to wait and see how they decide to go about it for Western markets. There is no indication as to whether the 1st place player gets a free race or not (a criticism of the previous two MK Arcade titles that is often brought up) and no hint at whether this is using some new arcadified WiiU hardware or something else. The game will be at the JAEPO 2013 expo in a couple of weeks, I’m sure we’ll find out much more by then.
One last thing I should add is that the market for racing games is quickly crowding this year with Namco already announcing Dead Heat Riders, Raw Thrills doing Cars Arcade, Sega just re-released GRID in the 42″ cabinet and they still might have K.O Drive to release and then GlobalVR’s next game is also supposed to be a racer. That doesn’t include any others that are still actively being sold on the market, of which there are a few. If Cars does come along (it’s been pretty mysterious, only showing up at one trade event and some discreet location tests and then only in a single cab, no linked units) then that will be duking it out with MK certainly as these two are both more family friendly than a lot of other racers. Who will come out on top? I guess we’ll know by the end of the year!
Here is the translated text that is a source for the information